| The Thornell/Partridge family first became involved with the breed in 1951 when Don’s grandfather, Charles Thornell, and father Lewis Partridge purchased our first six Brown Swiss cows as the farm began to milk cows in Batavia, NY. The “Thorndale” prefix was derived from the name Thornell, and was first used in 1965 when Don registered his first calf.
Upon graduating from Cornell in 1973, Don taught agriculture class at a local school for a brief time while milking cows for his father. In 1975, Don had earned enough money to join in a partnership with his father Lewis Partridge as Partridge Farms was created. Over the years the herd grew to over 205 registered and grade Holsteins with the few Swiss mixed in, as they worked 800 acres of crops. Partridge Farms was dissolved in 1993 as Don joined a partnership in K&P Farms in Alexander, NY. He was the managing partner overseeing as many as 20 employees, 700+ head of grade Holstein cattle, and working approximately 1500 acres. K&P Farms soon became Partridge Dairy Farms and Alexander Cropping as Don took the reins in a full buyout. Through all of this the small number of Swiss continued to be scattered about amongst the Holstein holding their own at the bunk and in the tank.
In 1999, it was decided to walk away from the business as we sold all of the Holstein cattle, most the land, and all the facilities. Many of our Swiss had also sold through this sale, but the family held on to a handful of our favorites. These heifers were housed here at home on our farmstead which has always been our home and kept separate from the farm businesses we had. Over the last few years the numbers have grown to over 65 total registered Brown Swiss (approximately 25 heifers, calves, and bulls with 35 milking cows) . In 2001, Thorndale Brown Swiss became a business. A partnership is present between Don, his wife Patricia, and son Scott. Today numbers are cut back to around 50 cows, heifers, calves, and bulls. Our 200 acres of land and the farmstead are located on Rte. 63, one mile south of Batavia, NY.
Scott selling Dot at the dispersal in 1999
Original Thornell Farmstead
Don and his 1st calf
Don in 4H