Breeder broke the mould
By Alice Lock
The man who represented a steep change in the country’s sheep industry was recognised at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards on Wednesday.
Retired Hawke’s Bay Romney breeder Tony Parker won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Individual or Business making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry Award.
Mr Parker was the first farmer to select sheep on recorded performance data, rather than physical attribute alone.
In 1961 after the findings by pioneering animal geneticist Jay Laurence Lush, Mr Parker produced a Selection Index for Sheep.
“Registered breeders who were very powerful in the 1950s-60s didn’t want to know about any computers recording sheep, so it was very difficult for us and we were given a hard time. It wasn’t until a few years ago that others realised and adapted to what we had started.”
Mr Parker was thrilled to be acknowledged at the sixth Lamb + Beef Awards and said it came as a real surprise after all those years.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand 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 this 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,” Mr McIvor said.
Photo caption – HAPPY FARMER: Retired Romney breeder Tony Parker won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Individual or Business making a Significant Contribution to the NZ Sheep Industry Award on Wednesday night.