Glammies a constant test for Central Otago farmers

Robert Gardyne runs his eye over ram lambs at East Limehills.

Robert Gardyne runs his eye over ram lambs at East Limehills.

Central Otago's Gardyne family must in the running to be at the top of the list when the Glammies organisers celebrate the competition's 10th anniversary by naming a Producer of the Decade. 

The Gardyne family of Robert and Rosemary Gardyne, and their son Grant and his wife Teri, have been finalists in Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Golden Lamb Awards (Glammies) nine times in 2007, from 2009-2012 and 2014-2017, including being named last year's grand champions.

About five years ago the family moved from a small farm on the plains of central Southland to a steep, physically demanding 489ha hill country farm in Ida Valley, Central Otago, to run their perendale and texel stud flock and commercial flock. 

Ida Valley farmer Robert Gardyne with some of the ram lambs he grazes at East Limehills.

Ida Valley farmer Robert Gardyne with some of the ram lambs he grazes at East Limehills.

The family went to work, putting two tonnes of lime to the hectare on the hill, while also adding inputs of boron, molybdenum, sulfur and coated seed onto the farm, Robert said. It paid off.

READ MORE: Golden Lamb Awards celebrates 10 years of dud-free lamb

"Even at 3000 feet this year with the very good November you couldn't put your foot down without standing on clover, which meant we got phenomenal growth rates in our lamb," he said.

By the third week of February there was only 15 per cent of the Gardyne's lambs and half of their hogget lambs left to be processed, he said.

"But because we were so critically dry we needed that lamb growth. We're only just getting them off the property in time."

The family deals with low rainfall throughout the year, with an average of 420 millimetres. The summer months are particularly dry and up to 9.9mm of water can evaporate each day.

"Unless we get more than 6mm of rain then it's all gone in 24 hours."

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After all the money they had invested in the farm, it was great to finally see the rewards coming through in their lambs, he said.

As far as the Glammies are concerned, Robert sees them as a way to measure his work on the farm.

"You're only as good as what you are at the moment. It's not what you did 10 years ago and so it's good to be constantly analysing what you're doing as a farmer and constantly testing yourself."

It was such a tight competition, no one had ever won twice, he said.

"It's a very, very tough competition with all of New Zealand's best farmers, many of whom I have the greatest respect for."

Robert did not rate his chances of making the finals this year, after the lambs he had picked out as possible entries grew too heavy. Most of the lambs he sent ended up coming off the draft, he said.

Lambs are tested by a laboratory, before being judged by five of the country's top judges.

When he first entered the preceding Lamb Oscars 11 years ago, only about 25 people were there to watch the judging. Now far more people showed up to the Glammies to find out who was producing the tastiest lamb, he said.

"I think one of the things that has given me the most pleasure every year at the Glammies at least one of our ram buyers has reached the final."

This year there were 144 farmer entries and 22 retail entries. Four finalists were selected from each category.

From there the finalists' rumps will be judged over two rounds at the Wanaka A&P Show on March 10.

Invercargill chef and chief judge Graham Hawkes will be joined in the judging by Beef + Lamb ambassador chefs of Steve Beere, of Napier, Alistair Forster, of Nelson, Scott Kennedy, of Palmerston North, and Shaun Clouston, of Wellington.

 - Stuff


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