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When Alan and Jean Hore bought Beaumont Station in 1972, they were told they would never fatten a lamb on the property.
Fast forward 45 years and the Hore family — Alan and Jean and son Richard and his wife, Abby — won supplier of the year at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.
Richard Hore yesterday acknowledged his father’s vision, adding that what had been achieved on the 28,000ha Otago high-country property had been through family determination and development.
The Hore family were nominated by their processor, Silver Fern Farms, and the award recognised their ability to supply lambs that consistently met company specifications.
Last season, they supplied Silver Fern Farms with 14,543 lambs at an average specification rate of 94.2% and they were one of the company’s bigger suppliers.
They had a year-round supply profile, with 30% of their lambs being sold for a premium in October.
Being recognised at the awards was unexpected and ‘‘pretty overwhelming’’ and it was a privilege to be acknowledged, Richard Hore said.
He paid tribute to those involved in the operation, including staff, professionals and suppliers, saying you were only as good as the team you built up around you.
The family employed about eight full-time staff, and used casual staff and contractors regularly. They own a fattening farm at Balclutha, managed by Alister and Steph Paul.
Their sheep suited the environment and the year-round spread of kill was a big factor when it came to their success, particularly being able to supply that 30% in October, when markets wanted it.
Over the years, the family had strived to produce better lambs and increase production and the weights and quality of stock had ‘‘improved out of sight’’, Mr Hore said.
Longtime suppliers to Silver Fern Farms, they enjoyed a close relationship with the company and had been involved in various pilot programmes.
Last year, they were grand finalists in the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Awards, representing the lower South Island. Those awards recognised farmers’ commitment to the company’s Plate to Pasture strategy.
Mr Hore gave credit to Beef and Lamb for hosting the awards, saying farmers often were just chipping away in their own environment, without ever getting "a pat on the back".
Beef and Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor said the awards were an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the many people who, through their work, had made a significant difference to the productivity and performance of the 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," he said.
John and Liz Chittock, managers of the Salvation Army-owned Jeff Farm at Kaiwera, won trainer of the year. For 17 years, the couple have trained and mentored dozens of farm cadets into the sheep industry. They take on young people who are passionate about farming and give them the opportunity to learn basic farm and life skills.
Prof Derrick Moot, from Lincoln University, who has been leading practice-changing research into the use of legumes, particularly lucerne, for dryland farming systems, won the sheep industry science award.
Prof Moot has been instrumental in developing grazing systems for farmers to maximise the value of their lucerne on-farm.
Hayden Peter, from Wyndham, won the emerging talent category. He is a member of the Southern Texel Breeders Alpha and Suftex breeding groups, vice-chairman of Beef and Lamb’s Southern South Island Farmer Council and the council’s representative on the Farmer Research Advisory Group. He is also regional judge for the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards and, last year, completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership course.
The innovation award was won by online livestock trading company StockX, while retired Hawke’s Bay Romney breeder Tony Parker was recognised for making a significant contribution to the sheep industry.
In the genetic trait awards, Focus Genetics’ breeding partners, Barry and Julie Crawford, from Gore, won terminal trait leader for lamb growth, while Andrew and Katherine, and Russell and Pam, Welsh, from Gore, won maternal worth.