The low milk payout was forgotten as the cream of the southern dairy crop was celebrated on Saturday night.
Otautau sharemilkers Callum and Hanna Stalker won the 2016 Southland-Otago Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner in Gore.
The couple, who 50 per cent sharemilk 680 cows for Ben and Bev Verhoeven at Otautau, took home more than $13,000 in prizes.
The other big winners on the night were Wayne Ashmore, who became the 2016 Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Chloe Mackle, the 2016 Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.
More than 500 people attended the awards dinner with a Hollywood theme at the MLT Events Centre.
The Stalkers said they aim to continue building equity through their livestock, and they believe a strength of their operation is their adaptability - especially in the current low milk payout climate.
"We can adapt the business to ensure we are still on track to achieving our goals.
"Our team of people, including ourselves and our farm team and farm owner, all have complimentary skills and we are all working towards the common goal of running a profitable and sustainable business."
The Stalkers entered the awards for a second time to analyse their business and benchmark it against others in the industry to gain improvement.
South Otago lower order sharemilkers Matthew Korteweg and Catherine Tate were runners-up in the Share Farmer competition while Seaward Downs lower order sharemilker Mike Henderson was third.
Farm Manager of the Year Wayne Ashmore currently manages one of Southland's larger dairy farming operations, Fortuna Group, on their Glenarlea Farm milking 930 cows near Otautau.
He has been with the group for eight years, progressing from herd manager to farm manager and now plans to become a farm supervisor, overseeing a few of the group's farming operations.
"The group has a wealth of knowledge and due to its size we are able to try new things."
It was the third time Ashmore had entered the awards, doing so to step outside his comfort zone and network with other like-minded dairy farmers and rural professionals.
Gore herd manager Ann Linton was second in the Dairy Manager competition while Invercargill farm manager Sam Hodsell placed third.
2016 Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year Chloe Mackle has "big dreams" to own farms where she is able to train school leavers, upskill people and provide an enjoyable workplace.
"As a junior I was very fortunate to have had employers that saw the importance in setting a solid foundation for me to use as a platform in the future.
"I would love to develop the same platform for others."
Chloe has been in the industry since 2012 and is currently herd manager for Abe and Anita de Wolde on their 500-cow property at Heddon Bush.
Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was Gore farm manager Joshua Best while third place went to Winton second-in-charge (2IC) Hamish Dempsey.
The Stalkers along with Wayne Ashmore and Chloe Mackle will represent the Southland-Otago region at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards in Wellington on May 14.
Share Farmer Merit Awards:
-DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Mathew Korteweg & Catherine Tate
-Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Mathew Korteweg & Catherine Tate
-Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Mike Henderson
-Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Callum & Hanna Stalker
-LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Mike Henderson
-Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Callum & Hanna Stalker
-Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Callum & Hanna Stalker
-Westpac Business Performance Award – Mathew Korteweg & Catherine Tate
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
-Claude Wuest Memorial Encouragement Award – Angela Nicholson
-McIntyre Dick & Partners Employee Engagement Award – Wayne Ashmore
-Vet South Leadership Award – Wayne Ashmore
-Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Alex Potts
-DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Ann Linton
-Primary ITO Power Play Award – Wayne Ashmore
-Fonterra Farm Source Farm Management Award – Dante Calamayan
-Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Sam Hodsell
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
-The Wrangler Most Promising Entrant Award – Simone Smail
-Landpro Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Joshua Best
-Shand Thomson Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Joshua Best
-DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Chloe Mackle