Melville Park Hereford stud has taken out the RASV Heifer Challenge champion title for 2020.
Following eight days of on-farm judging during Stock & Land Beef Week, the Vasey-located stud, led by David Lyons, was selected from the 32 entered properties to be awarded the honour and a $3000 cash prize.
Mr Lyons, who has been involved in the Heifer Challenge for all nine years, was joined by wife Olwyn and family on the night and was ecstatic with the win.
"I congratulate all of the other finalists and entrants in the Heifer Challenge," he said.
"I've been in the Heifer Challenge right from the beginning and this year it is absolutely marvellous to have been selected as champion.
"I thank the RASV for working with the Stock & Land Beef Week team to undertake this large task and the judge, who had the hard job of selecting the finalists from what I am sure was a wonderful 32 pens."
This year, the competition was judged by experienced cattleman Rick Smith, who has managed multiple cattle properties and worked in the Justice Department as general manager of industry.
Mr Smith and the team from the RASV travelled more than 5000 kilometres to judge studs across Victoria and into NSW.
Speaking at the Heifer Challenge presentation dinner at the Melbourne Showgrounds last Friday, Mr Smith said he was thrilled to be involved in such an impressive competition.
"I would like to acknowledge [teams] for organising an informative competition that gives stud beef producers an opportunity to benchmark their breeding and marketing on their homeground," he said.
SEE MORE: All the 2020 Beef Week photos
Sharing some insights into his breeding and judging philosophy, Mr Smith considered the female lines to be the key to the success of the herd.
"I consider the heifer program to be the foundation of the herd and the business," he said.
"Get the cows right and the rest will follow."
He said temperament and structural soundness were the keys to his assessment.
It was, however, the resilience of the rural communities that who had been through varying conditions over the past 12 months that received the most praise from Mr Smith.
"The cattle community is tough, and they all fronted up and did a magnificent job," he said.
The reserve champion of this year's RASV Heifer Challenge, judged during Stock & Land Beef Week in late January and early February, who won a $1500 cash prize, was awarded to previous winners Ravensdale Hereford stud, Holbrook, NSW.
Owner Brian Burgess was on-hand to accept the award.
Other Heifer Challenge finalists announced on the night included Glendan Park Hereford stud, Rangan Charolais stud, Riga Angus stud, Langi Kal Kal Angus stud, Boonaroo Angus stud, Caskieben Shorthorn stud, Wormbete Simmental stud and Murdeduke Angus stud.