Recognition for passionate young sheep farmer

Ballance Agri-Nutrients director Sarah von Dadelszen congratulates Will Gibson at the Beef + Lamb...
Ballance Agri-Nutrients director Sarah von Dadelszen congratulates Will Gibson at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards. Photo by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Ever since he was a young lad, Will Gibson's passion for the farming sector has been remarkable.

Whether it was exhibiting his coloured merino sheep and fleeces at A&P shows, entering stock-judging competitions with considerable success, or embracing life at home on the farm, he displayed maturity beyond his years.

He was always destined to go places in the industry and, last week, that passion was recognised when he received the emerging talent award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Masterton.

Mr Gibson (22), who owns the Bluestone coloured merino stud, has been breeding coloured sheep since he was 10.

He also has the Foulden Hill Hereford cattle stud.

His parents Anton and Liz, who farm at Middlemarch, have always been tremendously supportive of his endeavours.

That support allowed him to keep his studs while he lived in Christchurch and to retain a keen interest in everything that happened behind the farm gate.

"My parents still do the fantastic job they have done for a number of years,'' he said.

A Lincoln University graduate, Mr Gibson started work at the New Zealand Merino Company in January last year as a production science project officer.

He took on his role as NZM's Canterbury area manager in June this year but continued to work in production science, in a job that was "busy but good''.

Having that hands-on experience in farming enabled him to have a "real view'' of what was going on in the sector and allowed him to relate to farmers a lot better.

"I enjoy getting on-farm and talking to cockies; like-minded individuals,'' he said.

Returning to the family farm was always Mr Gibson's end-goal but he expected he would always have a keen interest "in another something''.

He loved working for NZM and the company's business plan was something that he was keen to be involved with, he said.

Among the other award recipients were Northland sheep breeder Gordon Levet, who was recognised for his long-term work breeding for worm resistance, while Hawke's Bay farmers James and Jane Hunter were named sheep industry suppliers of the year.

Derek Daniell, of Masterton, received an award for his significant contribution to the sheep industry.

Emily Crofoot, of Castlepoint Station, Wairarapa, was presented with a special award for services to the sheep industry in recognition of her industry leadership and ongoing involvement in extension, innovation and research programmes.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said the awards were an opportunity to celebrate the sheep industry.

"This country's sheep farmers are acknowledged as being world-leading in terms of productivity, animal welfare and the ability to produce a product that meets the demands of today's consumer,'' Mr McIvor said.

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