A Clinton sheep farming family are producing some of the best lambs in the country.
Craig and Tania McKenzie, and their son Craig, have won the supreme award in Silver Fern Farms' 2014 Plate to Pasture Awards for the lower South Island.
The McKenzies, who also won the lamb section, were named the inaugural winners at a function at the company's Finegand plant, near Balclutha, yesterday.
Robin McKenzie, who farms two properties at Taumata, near Clinton, and one at Waitahuna West, said he was overwhelmed to win the award. "I was very surprised but very proud," he said.
The McKenzies finish about 18,000 lambs a year at an average 17 kilograms to 18kg carcase weight through Silver Fern Farms' Finegand and Waitane plants.
Awards were presented to the top 10 suppliers in each category - lamb, prime beef, venison and dairy - based on factors such as stock presentation, commitment to supply and supply volumes, and whether or not a farmer was in the Farm IQ programme.
Riverton deer farmers Chris and Robynne O'Connell won the venison award, while Landcorp's Dawson Downs won the prime beef award and Balclutha farmer Daryl Wendelgelst won the dairy award.
Silver Fern Farms former business development manager Glenn Tyrrell said farmers were reluctant to put themselves forward for competitions so Silver Fern Farms selected their top suppliers out of about 3000 in the lower South Island, covering from Oamaru south.
The McKenzies will now compete against the winners of four other regions in the country for the ultimate prize - a tour of Silver Fern Farms' overseas markets.
The overall winner will be announced in June. Plate to Pasture Award results:
Lamb: 1st Robin, Tania and Craig McKenzie, Clinton, 2nd Daniel Lochhead, Balclutha, 3rd Landcorp Lynmore Farm, Te Anau.
Prime Beef: 1st Landcorp Dawson Downs, Balclutha, 2nd Sid and Glenda Heckler, Palmerston, 3rd Beaumont Station, Roxburgh.
Venison: 1st Chris and Robynne O'Connell, Riverton, 2nd Landcorp Stuart, Te Anau, 3rd George and Mary Scott, Pukerau.
Dairy: 1st Daryl Wendelgelst, Balclutha, 2nd Pieter and Jacoba Meyers, Grove Bush, 3rd John and Donna Dowdle, Otahuti.
- The Southland Times