HAVING spent weeks fighting back against an invasive fungus, receiving national recognition for high quality hay was welcome news for Charlton's Ian Olive.
Along with son Matt, the pair were judged to have the country's best vetch after it was put under the microscope to measure protein content and energy.
The family won the national vetch feed analysis award at last week's Feed Central National Hay Quality Competition in Adelaide.
The competition inspected a total of 753 lots weighing 180,000 tonnes from September to June to come up with a list of the country's best hay.
Mr Olive said the competition was a new concept for the industry.
"It's done in a laboratory where they test for a number of factors, but the most important ones are protein content and energy," he said.
"Like with a lot of things, you just have to try your best to get a good article.
"Weather comes into it, and so does luck."
Mr Olive said a consistently wet winter had provided ideal conditions for fungus to break out, but the right conditions in spring would allow farmers to get on top of the problem.
Victorian farmers won four of the eight national categories, including Alex Peacock of Timmering near Rochester, who had Australia's top lucerne bale by visual appearance.
Kyabram's Frank Fanning also won a national award for his lucerne.
Closer to Bendigo, Roger and Rowan Hickson had Victoria's best cereal hay for visual appearance.
Feed Central managing director Tim Ford said the awards were a way to celebrate the role of the hay industry in agricultural Australia.
"This is the first time that large scale commercial hay producers have had an opportunity to compete on a national basis for recognition of their hard work and quality produce," he said.
"Overall we had a good dry spring and hot dry summer nationwide which resulted in good quality hay being available."
The awards highlighted the importance of having hay looking close to a $100 note in colour with a high metabolisable energy (ME) and protein levels.
Mr Ford said growers were recognising the importance of producing the best possible hay.
"High quality hay means more money for a supplier and better outcomes for end users," he said.