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Celebrating success in New Zealand’s sheep industry

9 August 2012

Celebrating success in New Zealand’s sheep industry

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Southern South Island Farmer Council has recognised top-performing New Zealand sheep breeders at the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill last night.

About 200 people attended the event, designed to celebrate sheep farming excellence. Nine awards were presented, covering genetics, production and business innovation. Results of the genetics-related awards have been calculated based on breeders’ performance in SIL-ACE (Advanced Central Evaluation) – the large-scale, across flock and breed genetic evaluation of more than 280 ram breeding flocks.

The B+LNZ Award for an individual or business making a significant contribution to the New Zealand sheep industry was presented to sheep breeding science pioneer Dr Jock Allison. The Silver Fern Farms Award for sheep industry innovation was presented to Rowan Farmer, responsible for introducing and promoting sheep pregnancy and eye muscle scanning technology to New Zealand. Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm was named winner of the AgITO Business Farm Trainer of the Year Award.

The terminal sire flock rated highest for genetic merit across the SIL-ACE evaluation was “The Burn”, Joseph and Judy Barkers’ Texel stud in Mid Canterbury. The dual purpose (ewe breed) rated highest for genetic merit was “MNCC”, Edward Dinger’s Coopworth stud in the Waikato.

The idea to hold an awards ceremony was initiated by B+LNZ Farmer Council member and ram breeder Russell Welsh. Mr Welsh says the dairy industry’s track record of celebrating success prompted him to suggest the awards ceremony. “It highlights best practice and, by default, that lifts all farmers.”

B+LNZ Chairman Mike Petersen says it is great to see farmers driving an initiative which celebrates the sheep industry, while also highlighting the immense value of SIL’s database to the sector.

“Any of us in the sheep business know that choosing a ram is a farm-by-farm decision – that we all have different priorities with regard to finishing, wool production and animal health issues. Consequently, these awards by no means represent ‘the top list’ for all. But it is very interesting to crunch the numbers and see what comes out the other side.

“My congratulations to all those named. You are part of a critical group of top performing ram breeders who are firmly focused on improving your animals’ traits and performance, so that we commercial farmers continue to improve our flocks year on year.”

B+LNZ Geneticist Mark Young says the process of identifying the top-performing flocks involved analysing the top 25-50 per cent of rams for each specified set of traits, before then adjusting the results to account for variations in flock size.

“This exercise also identified highly-rated sires that were making a big impact in industry. The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Super Sires are rated in the top 10 per cent for genetic merit in indexes of merit across key traits. They are also rams which have been used a lot, so have the most progeny.”

AWARDS BASED ON SIL-ACE – FULL RESULTS

Top Flocks for Genetic Merit

Terminal Flock
(Index: Lamb Growth + Meat Yield)
Winner: The Burn (Texel), JT & J Barker, Winchmore
Commendations: Tamlet (Texel), GA & K Smith, Wyndham
Mount Linton (SufTex), Mt Linton Station, Otautau
Kepler Supreme (Lamb Supreme), Focus Genetics Kepler, Te Anau
Blackdale (Texel), LG & WI Black, Riverton

Dual Purpose Flock
(Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool)
Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge
Commendations: Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto
Ashton Glen (Coopworth), R & R Mitchell, Clinton

Alliance High Performance Flock
(Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool)
Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge
Commendations: Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto
Ashton Glen (Coopworth), R&R Mitchell, Clinton

Dual Purpose plus Meat Flock
(Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + Meat Yield)
Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge
Commendations: Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto
Marlow (Coopworth), S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau

Dual Purpose plus Worm FEC Flock
(Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + Parasite Resistance)
Winner: Nithdale (Romney), A Tripp, Gore
Commendations: Nikau (Coopworth), E & S Welch and K Broadbent, Tuakau
Hazeldale (Perendale), Longview Farm, Tapanui

Dual Purpose plus Facial Eczema Flock
(Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + FE Tolerance)
Winner: ARDG (Romney), R & G Alexander, Tirau
Commendations: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge
ARDG (Romney), RL & A Steed, Whangarei

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Super Sires

Terminal: 2960.101/03 (Texel), WTD, D Clarkson, Wairarapa
Dual Purpose: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau
Dual Purpose High Performance: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau
Dual Purpose plus Meat Yield: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau
Dual Purpose plus Worm FEC: 406.486/07 (Romney), ARDG, R &G Alexander, Tirau
Dual Purpose plus FE Tolerance: 2529.152/07 (Romney), ARDG, RL & A Steed, Whangarei

BUSINESS AWARDS – BACKGROUND BIOS

B+LNZ Award for an individual or business making a significant contribution to the New Zealand sheep industry

Winner: Dr Arthur John (Jock) Allison, ONZM

Dr Jock Allison’s rural achievements are too numerous to cover in depth, but two highlights include:

• Initiated work with the Booroola Merino, which has lead to the discovery of a major gene fecundity gene. This gene has been transferred out of the Merino type into other long wool breeds.

• Imported the East Friesian sheep to New Zealand. The infusion of the East Friesian – known for its reproduction and milk producing characteristics – has been described as “the greatest advance in the sheep industry in the past 50 years”.

Silver Fern Farms Award for sheep industry innovation

Winner: Rowan Farmer

Pregnancy scanning in sheep was commercialised when Rowan Farmer set up Stockscan in 1991. The primary aim was to scan sheep for eye muscle area, but Rowan’s experience with quarantined sheep at Invermay gave him an insight into the management benefits of pregnancy scanning. Since then, the practice has expanded to include the identification of twins and triplets. Scanning has revolutionised the reproductive management of sheep throughout New Zealand.

AgITO Business Farm Trainer of the Year Award.

Winner: Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm

Bequeathed to the King in 1919, Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm is a 3186 hectare property, wintering 31,000 stock units. It is located in Central Hawkes Bay and operates as a commercial farm, as well as a self-funding training facility for 22 farming cadets annually (11 per intake, for a two-year programme). Since 1931, Smedley Station has trained more than 500 cadets. Graduates have gone on to roles, including working on farms, rural property advisors and finance experts, or into further education.

ENDS

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