The National Beef Recording and Improvement Scheme of the ARC, in collaboration with other research programmes, has focused very strongly for more than six decades on the adoption and implementation of technologies aimed at improving the biological and economic efficiency of our national herd. The ultimate aim is to ensure optimal and sustainable use of our natural resources and to capacitate farmers to enhance their contributions, through profitable production, to lasting food security in our country. On an annual basis, the Scheme gives recognition to farmers, across all spectrums of production that have excelled in their quest to manage their enterprises and breed animals that will ensure sustainable and profitable operations. Our annual awards event has since its inception become a platform where exceptional achievements from our farmers are recognised, in particular relating to their efforts to improve the genetic potential of our national herd. Their contributions are also put into perspective in view of our declining and often limited resources. To achieve our goals, the Scheme thus also puts a high premium on collaboration with farmers across all sectors, government and other stakeholders in agriculture to strengthen our collective effort to enhance production and access to beef value chains.

Beef Cattle Improvement Scheme
Animal Recording and Improvement

During 2020, the awards consisted of eight categories:

1.            The ARC National Best Elite Cow Awards sponsored by Farmer's Weekly

2.            The ARC National Platinum Bull Awards sponsored by GMPBasic

3.            The ARC National KyD Province of the Year Award sponsored by Molatek

4.            The ARC National Emerging Beef Farmer of the Year Award

5.            The ARC National Mentor of the Year Award sponsored by Molatek

6.            The ARC National Special Performance Test Class

7.            The ARC National Beef Cattle Improvement Herd of the Year Award

8.            The ARC National Commercial Beef Producer of the Year sponsored by Molatek

​ARC National Best Elite Cow Awards

This award category only considers actual performance data of participating cows. Participating cows should exhibit exceptional reproduction figures and other economically important traits such as maternal ability and pre-weaning growth rate (weaning weight). This award category is also contested, as in the past, among cows across all breeds and only one cow per breed will be crowned as the top female of each participating breed. Our valued partner, Farmers Weekly, have been the sole sponsor of this award category for 42 years in a row, which in itself is indeed praiseworthy.

Both registered and commercial cows are eligible to participate and specific qualification criteria include age at first calving; the average inter-calving period; days since the last calving; the completeness of records for weaning weights; performance records (Breeding Values) regarding wean direct and wean maternal; birth maternal (where available) and the number of calves with reliable weaning weights. For commercial cows where no BLUP breeding values are available, the criteria evaluated include, in addition to criteria already mentioned, the weaning index of the cow's calves individually as well as for all calves weaned. Additional criteria used to identify the best performing cow per breed include breeding values for birth and weaning; average efficiency index (if available); approval ratio (percentage of her progeny approved for registration by the relevant breeders' society); reproduction index and the percentage of performance tested calves.

​ARC National Platinum Bull Awards

Besides having exceptional performance figures themselves, bulls can only qualify for this award if they were bred from an Elite cow, therefore the saying that it is the "best from the best" award category. More than one bull per breed can be eligible for this award, although as a rule very few bulls qualify due to the stringent adjudication criteria. Eligible bulls must have received a Gold Merit certificate when they completed a Phase C test of the ARC and its dam had to receive her Elite cow status during the year in which the bull received his Gold Merit award. Eligible bulls also had to complete their Phase C tests between 1 January and 31 December in the year preceding the awards.  GMPBasic, one of the ARC's valued partners, has been sponsoring this award category for seven years in a row now, a category that has been contested for 25 years already.

​ARC National KyD Province of the Year Award

The objective of this award is to recognise the province with the highest number of participating farmers in the scheme (KyD). These farmers must be registered on INTERGIS and must have loaded data on the database between March of the year preceding the award and April of the year of the award.  The three provinces with the highest number of participating farmers will receive the accolades Platinum, Gold and Silver respectively. This award was only introduced in 2016.

ARC National Emerging Beef Farmer of the Year Awards

Background & History:

This is another flagship award of the ARC that acknowledges emerging beef farmers that are members of the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) Scheme of the ARC and that have excelled when it comes to how they manage and improve their herds and enterprises making use of record keeping, amongst others. This award category commemorates its 18th anniversary this year. Finalists, aiming to become fully-fledged commercial farmers, from each of our country's provinces are identified and they ultimately contest for the title of National Winner. The Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo Scheme focuses on assisting emerging cattle farmers to apply beef recording and improvement technology to facilitate accurate selection for economically important traits and increased productivity and profitability of their herds. Emerging farmers serviced and developed through the KyD Scheme are also registered on the INTERGIS (national database) and to date more than 8000 emerging farmers are members of KyD.


To acknowledge members of the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo Scheme who perform well on specific criteria related to recording, management and performance of their herds;

  • To encourage emerging cattle farmers to improve their standard of living through higher returns from animal production and job creation;

  • To promote participation in the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo Scheme;

  • To promote sound breeding and management principles in the beef industry; and

  • To demonstrate the benefit of performance testing, practically by identifying outstanding herds.

​ARC National Mentor of the Year Award

This award category was introduced to give recognition to farmers with exceptional leadership skills, in particular focusing on building capacity, skills and information dissemination to fellow farmers and industry at large. In short, this award category assesses how a farmer ploughs back his or her skills, knowledge and experience to the benefit of others. Farmers who enter this category should have a record of accomplishment that attests to their efforts to train and mentor others and very importantly to show the impact of their actions and mentoring initiatives.

​ARC National Special Performance Test Class

This very popular award category has been presented for over forty years and rewards only bulls with exceptional performance traits. Bulls which were awarded Gold or Silver merit certificates when they completed a standardised growth test (Phase C) of the National Beef Recording and Improvement Scheme during the year that preceded the awards re eligible to compete in this award category. Residual Feed Intake or RFI, a trait that describes a bull's ability to utilise feed efficiently, is also considered. Only one bull per breed eventually is identified as representative of the entire breed in terms of performance and functional efficiency. Bulls are not adjudicated across breeds as during previous years (interbreed adjudication), meaning that every bull is crowned as the overall national winner within the participating breed. 

​ARC National Beef Cattle Improvement Herd of the Year Awards

To be eligible for this award category, a farmer had to excel among a number of performance indicators, not only those directly involved with managing and breeding his or her own herd. This award category is also one of the most fiercely contested and highly sought after accolades in industry. Besides being adjudicated on how they implement performance recording and related technologies to improve the genetic potential of their herds, their involvement with industry, interaction with their fellow farmers and their efforts to build and add value to the beef production industry is also assessed.  Breeders and herds across breeds in southern Africa can enter this award category while farmers making use of any of the service providers in southern Africa are eligible to enter. Herd related traits that are assessed include the level of reproduction of the herd; overall participation and implementation of performance testing as a tool for improvement; cow efficiency in the herd (including post-weaning performance); the completeness of performance records; the size of the cow herd (must consist of at least 50 cows); the calving performance of the herd; genetic trends and progress in the herd and the application of modern scientific breeding techniques. The contributions and reputation of the participating herd owner is also considered, in particular regarding his or her leadership and guidance to other farmers and stakeholders.

​ARC National Commercial Beef Producer of the Year Award

This award category recognises the achievements of commercial farmers who do not focus on stud breeding. The commercial farmer must exhibit a record of accomplishment of implementing performance testing and related technologies to improve his/her commercial herd. The candidate must also have a record of accomplishment of his/her interaction and mentorship under an established breeder and evidence of significant progress in his/her own enterprise. The recipient should furthermore exhibit a passion and enthusiasm for breeding genetically superior animals, making use of established management principles and available technologies.