The skills and depth of talent within this country’s sheep industry were recognised at Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ)’s 2017 Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill last night.
Now in their sixth year, the Award’s celebrate the top performers in the field of science, innovation, industry training and genetics and acknowledge emerging talent and outstanding contributions.
Among the award recipients was retired Hawke’s Bay Romney breeder Tony Parker, whose stud, in 1961, was the first to produce a Selection Index for sheep. This was selecting sheep on recorded performance data rather than physical attributes alone. Although controversial at the time, this represented a step-change in this country’s sheep industry.
Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot won the B+LNZ Sheep Industry Science Award in recognition of his practice-changing research into the use of legumes – particularly lucerne – for dryland farming systems.
Central Otago farmers Alan, Jean, Richard and Abby Hore won the Blackdale Stud Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year Award. Nominated by their processors Silver Fern Farms, this award recognises the family’s ability to supply lamb that consistently meets company specifications.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the awards are an opportunity to recognise – and celebrate – the many people who, through their work, have made a significant difference to the productivity and performance of this country’s sheep flock.
“A successful sheep industry is built on the combination of people and animals and how they are brought together successfully. Our sheep genetics set the potential for what can be achieved and it’s the expertise and commitment of the people applied across the value chain from conception to consumption where that potential is realised,” says McIvor.
2017 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Award winners
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Science Award – Professor Derrick Moot, Lincoln University
Since 1995, Professor Derrick Moot has been leading practice-changing research into the use of legumes—particularly lucerne—for dryland farming systems. He has been instrumental in developing grazing systems for farmers to maximise the value of their lucerne on-farm. His detailed experiments have produced the science that underpins changes in best-practice management—changes he has championed to maximise crop yield, persistence and animal performance. Derek’s ability to communicate that science has enabled widespread uptake of his research findings, which has proven to be game-changing for many dryland farmers.
Blackdale Stud Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year – Alan, Jean, Richard and Abby Hore
The Hore family farm Beaumont Station at Millers Flat, Central Otago. They have been loyal Silver Fern Farm suppliers for many years and last season supplied the company with 14,543 lambs at an average specification rate of 94.2%. This is based on a specification of 14-23kg P, Y, T grade lambs. Because they farm Halfbreds, the family has a unique year-round supply profile, with 30% of the lambs being sold for a premium in October. The Hores enjoy a close relationship with Silver Fern Farms and believe their loyalty is rewarded through involvement in various pilot programmes.
Ballance Agri-Nutrients Sheep Industry Emerging Talent- Hayden Peter, Wyndham
Hayden Peter’s involvement in the sheep industry extends far beyond the commercial flock he farms on 430ha in Southland. He also runs 800 stud ewes, is a member of the Southern Texel breeders Alpha and Suftex breeding groups, vice chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Southern South Island Farmer Council and the Council’s representative on the Farmer Research Advisory Group. Hayden is a regional judge for the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards and last year completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership course.
Tru-Test Sheep Industry Innovation Award- StockX
StockX is an on-line livestock trading company which cuts many costs out of the traditional selling options, leaving more money in farmers’ pockets. The platform allows farmers to market their own stock and accept the offer they choose. As the purchaser deals directly with the vendor, transport can be coordinated to suit both parties. The system offers security around payment, as the purchaser deposits funds into an independent trust account and, once the funds are cleared, the seller is notified and stock can be moved. StockX is backed by farmers and agribusiness professionals.
Silver Fern Farms Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year – John and Liz Chittock, Jeff Farm
For 17 years, John and Liz Chittock have trained and mentored dozens of farm cadets into the sheep industry. As managers of the Salvation Army-owned Jeff Farm, they take on young people who are passionate about farming and provide them with the opportunity to learn basic farm and life skills. Chittocks are enthusiastic about encouraging young people into the industry and take a real interest in them as individuals, encouraging and supporting them to be skilled shepherds and farmers.
B+LNZ Individual or Business making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry – Tony Parker, Hawke’s Bay
Tony Parker was a pioneer in adopting objective measurement of productive performance as the main criteria for selecting ewes in ram breeding flocks. At a time when animals were selected on their physical attributes, Tony adopted and implemented the principles of genetic improvement advocated by Professor Al Rae of Massey University. Tony was amongst the first to performance record his stud flock and, in 1961, his Wairunga stud made history by having the first Selection Index for sheep in New Zealand. Tony forged a pathway that defined the future of New Zealand’s Sheep Industry.
Genetic Traits Awards
Alliance Group Ltd New Zealand Terminal Worth – Waikite FocusPrime™, Focus Genetics, Peter Strawbridge, Reporoa
FocusPrime merges Focus Genetics’ Lamb Supreme, Primera and Texel terminal programmes and incorporates outside genetics focused on maximising growth, survival, yield and providing a better, more consistent eating experience for the consumer. This flock continues to be one of the largest contributors to the South Island Genomic Calibration Progeny Test, which drives the LambEQ SNP chip for identifying rams with proven eating quality. This flock regularly exports genetics to Focus Genetics’ sister breeding programme in the UK, where FocusPrime genetics have proven to be superior. Peter’s Lamb Supreme flock won two Terminal Sire categories in 2015 and has been a finalist three times.
B+LNZ Terminal Trait Leader for Lamb Growth – Rosebank FocusPrime™, Focus Genetics, Barry and Julie Crawford, Gore
Owner/operators Barry and Julie Crawford are Focus Genetics breeding partners. The couple run a highly-productive and technology-intensive operation and have managed a Focus Genetics Primera flock since 2010. They now run 550 recorded FocusPrime ewes. Crawfords are among the first users of EID tags in sheep, original FarmIQ demonstration farmers and Lincoln University South Island Farmer of the Year finalists. The couple specialises in terminal ram hoggets and run a highly effective commercial enterprise.
AbacusBio New Zealand Maternal Worth – Andrew and Katherine, Russell and Pam Welsh, Gore
Twin Farm covers 750ha in the Waimea Valley. The stud flocks are made up of 1400 TEFRom and 880 Suftex ewes, plus associated ewe hoggets. All ewes are fully recorded and single mated. There is also a commercial flock of 3000 ewes. The Welsh family is driven to increase economic performance for their commercial clients, with a focus on growth rate, milking ability and lamb survival. The stud also aims to accelerate genetic advancement through hogget lambing.
B+LNZ Maternal Trait Leader for Parasite Resistance – Nikau Coopworth, Kate Broadbent, Waikaretu
Nikau Coopworth aims is to produce a facial eczema tolerant sheep that requires minimal drenching and exhibits high growth rates. The stud has been a finalist in previous awards’ Parasite Resistance and Wool categories. The Nikau ewe flock has had a no-drench policy since 2002. Lambs are on an extended drench interval and selection is based on above average performance in the face of parasite challenge. Nikau has a philosophy of selecting for “fit to purpose” with a focus on the health traits or FE and parasite tolerance.