Southern sheep breeders scooped most of the accolades at the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.
The awards, which recognised the country's top-performing sheep breeders and industry leaders, were presented at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Wednesday night.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen said the occasion was a "fantastic chance" to celebrate the sheep industry.
"There is utter admiration for our industry around the world.
"We've got to celebrate our successes and be prepared to reinvest in our sector," he said.
More than 300 people attended the hugely popular event, dining on a surprise entree of salmon fish cakes and seared duck breast followed more fittingly by hereford beef fillet and lamb wellington.
Southern sheep breeders won seven of the 10 genetic awards based on the ranking of their rams in Sheep Improvement Ltd's Advanced Central Evaluation (SIL-ACE).
Wyndham sheep farmers George and Kathryn Smith won the Alliance Group Terminal Sire Overall.
Their Tamlet sires feature regularly in the top band of the Texel Dual Purpose lists and the Smiths were actively involved in Central Progeny Test trials.
Mt Linton Station won the SIL-ACE Terminal Sire for Lamb Growth Award with its Suftex (Suffolk-Texel), while Landcorp's Kepler Farm won the SIL-ACE Terminal Sire for Meat Yield for its Lamb Supreme in conjunction with Focus Genetics.
Meanwhile, Andrew and Heather Tripp, of Nithdale Romney, received both the SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Reproduction Awards and the SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Internal Parasite Resistance.
Russell and Pam Welsh, of Twin Farm, won the SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Growth (Lamb Growth and Adult Size) for their TEFRom (Texel-East Friesian-Romney) composite, while Peter and Marion Black, of Blackdale Coopworths, won the SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Wool award.
Other awards presented on the night included the Silver Fern Farms Sheep Industry Science Award, which went to former AgResearch Invermay scientist Dr George Davis for his work on the Inverdale and Booroola fecundity genes which took lambing percentages to a new level.
The Blackdale Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year award was presented to Hugh and Judy Akers, of Broadlands Station, who were the inaugural national winners of the Waitrose Supplier of the Year Award and have twice featured in the top five suppliers for the North Island for the past seven seasons.
The Alliance Group won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Innovation Award, while New Zealand Animal Breeding Trust general manager Clare Callow was named as the Allflex Individual or Business Making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry.
The AgITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year was Kevin Smith who manages three properties for Greenfields Rural and employs a steady stream of graduates from Telford, Lincoln University and AgITO programmes.
Dynamic guest speaker John Allen, chief executive and secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the sheep industry could not afford to rest on its laurels.
"Science is changing and markets are changing," he said.
"We have to continue to innovate and apply ourselves or our competitors will steal our market position."
Sheep Industry Awards convenor Paul McCauley said that although he hoped to retain the awards in the south, there was a case for holding it in the North Island every second year and making it a truly national event.
- © Fairfax NZ News