The basis of the Hardiesmill herd was the Thornton herd of Aberdeen Angus, which was owned by Alison's family.
Lady Thornton-Kemsley, Alison’s Grandmother, founded the Thornton Aberdeen Angus herd in 1949 at Thornton, Laurencekirk. Females came from Pitskelly and Derculich herds, all purchased at commercial prices. As cash allowed, further cows were added from Edenwood, Harviestoun, Charterhouse, Stype, Islabank, Sandon and Little Dean. Early stock bulls included Eulian of Kilham (by Perfect of Gaidrew), which was purchased for 500gns in 1955.
The herd was taken over by Thornton Farms Ltd in 1957, at the helm was Nigel Thornton-Kemsley. In 1967 Elomar of Yeldems was puchased jointly with Fordhouse. A son, Erk of Thornton was sold to Westdrums. At Westdrums, Erk's influence was huge and in 1970, Nigel bought a son of Erk, Proud Frank of Westdrums. However it was the cows of the Thornton Herd that really stood out: Palova 2nd of Thornton (mother/dam of Thornton Peter and Picador of Thornton) won many local shows including the Interbreed title at Tarland Show in 1976. Her daughter Palava of Thornton (by Proud Frank of Westdrums) took the top slot in 1978 at many shows including the Great Yorkshire and in 1979 Supreme and the Royal Show and Reserve at the Highland.
In 1982, when retiring as Aberdeen Angus President, Nigel won the last Championship for Thornton (to date). Picador of Thornton won the Junior and Supreme titles at Perth, whilst the Senior and Reserve Supreme was also Thornton bred (Elmarko of Thornton). Both were by Elvar of Beath.
The repuation of the Thornton herd spread throughout this period, and Thornton was honoured to host such dignatories as Mr Sung Chih-Kuang, Chinese Ambassador in 1973 and HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1982.
A change of farming policies in 1987 meant the Thornton Herd was dispersed. However, Nigel and Gaye Thornton-Kemsley needed grass grazers and selected females were bought back from various dispersals.
In 1998 Alison and Robin were offered both the cattle and the herd name. Circumstances dictated that the "Thornton Ladies", as they became known, were bought before any land, so they headed south for a two year break at Begley Farm in the Home Counties. When Hardiesmill was purchased, they headed north again. Unfortunately Nigel never saw the Herd head to Hardiesmill but was influential in the purchase of the first stock bull, Cardona Edwin Z043, a son of Lochdhu Elfking, a Thornton bloodline, and the famous Cardona Edwina 7th, a fabulous show cow for Cardona.
In 2002 Alison transferred the Thornton Prefix back to her brother Ian when he wished to have Aberdeen Angus cattle back at Thornton, and renamed her herd "Hardiesmill". The blood lines remained at Hardiesmill.
Thornton lines continue to flourish at Hardiesmill – Palavas, Electives, Elfins, Edessas and Ediths. These have been supplemented by purchases of cows from Blelack, Tofts, Chimes and Galcantray. Three homebred bulls including Hardiesmill Everite C016 (a son of Blelack Blackstock) plus bulls from Fordel, Strathinver and Dunlouise have helped consolidate the herd to a more standardised look and real growth off grass/grass-silage. Currently, Hardiesmill have 4 stockbulls - Hardiesmill Blacklad G303, Dunloise Nevis L441, Dunloise Marathon and Hardiesmill Red Bull.
The increase of the beef sales has meant that the herd is still expanding organically by retaining heifers. There's no quick fix, but to ensure consistancy we won't buy in carcasses to suplement the beef requirements! Hardiesmill is trademarked. To have the Hardiesmill brand name, all the cattle, and hence the beef, are now born and reared on the farm.
If you are interested in purchasing livestock please contact Alison Tuke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)1573 410797.