The Aberdeen-Angus breed may well be renowned for its superior meat eating qualities, however, it's the all-black’s ease of management, fleshing ability and hardiness that Martin McCornick and his daughter, Gemma, from Boreland Farm, Kirkcowan, rely on most in producing high value pedigree cattle.

Boreland Farm has been home to the McCornick family for four generations, with both Martin and Gemma forming a keen interest in livestock from a young age, having been influenced and encouraged by their late father and grandfather, Peter. The rest of the team at Boreland includes wife, Emma, who helps with the day-to-day running of the business and youngest daughter, Kate, who works for the Scottish Ambulance Service and helps out at home when she can.

"My father established a Charolais herd in 1974, while managing a pedigree dairy herd of Ayrshire cattle, however, we sold the milking cows in 2000 and replaced them with 180 Aberdeen-Angus crosses to bull them with the Charolais," Martin commented.

Having been most impressed by the Angus cross as a breeding female, they soon looked to sourcing pure-breds, which they have discovered thrive and perform just as well under the same conditions as the commercial herd, living outdoors all year round and utilising the rough grazing.

“The cows and heifers all calve outside from mid April to June, with heifers calving down at two years old. Due to ease of calving and natural maternal traits combined with vigorous calves getting to their feet to suckle straight away, they rarely require assistance,” he added.

With Martin now phasing out his commercial herd to focus on the pedigrees, the McCornick Angus herd currently sits at 100 head of cows following its establishment in 2006 with the purchase of two heifers at the Border Blacks sale, in the form of Wedderlie Nelight E003 and Huxton Bloom D183.

Adding to those two founding members were eight draft cows from Rawburn and the first stock bull was bought privately in the form of 13-month-old Netherton Mr American E370, which has since bred sons to top at 7000gns for McCornick Evolution, sold in 2013.

"We purchased a few females from select families that would suit us and our system. I always looked at maternal lines and heifers and cows with tight udders and small teats, as well as easy fleshing abilities for our wet winters," Martin said.

"Our aim is to breed a medium-sized cow that has plenty of milk, breed character, correct feet and legs, strong topline and square over the plates with a well set tailhead. Most importantly, they must thrive well outside all year round under commercial conditions and produce the type of offspring required to sell well through a live market," he added.

"When looking to buy a stock bull, back breeding and consistency of the families within the pedigree of the bull is essential, as well as the animal itself. Natural shape, breed character and a bit of extra outlook and style are also important, especially when breeding for the show and sale ring."

Since the foundation of the McCornick herd, Martin has used several bulls to stamp their mark. Two of these were Duncanziemere Edwin-sired bull calves in the shape of Halbeath Kitemark N500, which has left ‘fantastic females’ within the herd and secondly, Halbeath Pentagon N511, who has produced two sons to sell at 11,000gns at Stirling, in October 2017 and 2018.

Another favourite of the family is Skaill Dino P099 – purchased for 6500gns at Stirling, in 2016 – which was responsible their 2019 Royal Highland Show Angus champion, McCornick Keira U451, and this year’s Bull Sales champion at Stirling in February which sold for 7500gns. Breeding consistently well throughout the herd, and still a major part of the breeding programme, Dino has been producing quality commercial bulls, so far selling to 8500gns twice and 8200gns at Stirling.

"We have some strong female lines within the herd, including the foundation Rawburn families. The most noted of these being the Duchess line, which produced McCornick Destroyer S217, that stood reserve champion at the Stirling October Bull Sales 2017 and sold for 11,000gns," Martin said.

Another big favourite is Wedderlie Even Sorrell G411, which was the grand dam of McCornick Evening Express T379 – a first prize bull in October 2018 that sold for 11,000gns – as well as Netherton Kim F381, purchased at the Netherton sale, in 2007, and grand dam of last year’s 14 month old Highland Show champion, McCornick Keira U451. The full brother to Keira, McCornick Kaiser V573, has been retained by Martin as a junior stock bull and was used on heifers this summer.

Females purchased at the Halbeath dispersal, in 2013, have also made their mark in the herd. Halbeath Pam L428 is the dam of McCornick Pathfinder U465, the previously mentioned Stirling Bull Sales Champion in February this year. She is also the grand dam of McCornick Panther U464, the second top price bull as part of the Stirling May Sale at 7200gns.

Halbeath Kerry L450 is the dam of another favourite female in the herd, McCornick Kerry P000, who stood reserve junior female champion at Stars of the Future, in 2014. She was also shown at the Agri-Expo Winter National for three years – winning first prize as a calf in 2014, reserve yearling female champion, in 2015, and first prize two year old with her bull calf, McCornick Kerry's Boy S215, at foot in 2016. Kerry's Boy then returned to Agri-Expo in 2017, where he won the overall championship and has since been retained as a stock bull. His first son McCornick Eastbourne V565, who belongs to Gemma, will be forward at Stirling Bull Sales next weekend.

"The majority of our cows are outwintered on the hill with silage which we grow ourselves, along with straw and minerals. In-calf heifers and a small number of cows can be wintered inside in the 70 cubicles," stated Martin.

Straw bedded sheds are made available during winter, with all weaned bull calves coming indoors, while the weaned heifers are outwintered.

When it comes to selecting replacement females, Martin has high expectations and a strict culling policy to ensure he only retains the best of the best.

"Whilst building up the pedigree herd we have been keeping between 20 and 25 pedigree heifers each year to gradually replace the commercial herd, with the remaining heifers sold as breeders or stores," he said.

The farm's commercial suckled calves are sold at six-months of age in October, with pure Angus bullocks and tail-end heifers being sold in spring all through United Auctions, Stirling.

"Any young bulls not meeting our strict criteria as breeding bulls are sold deadweight through ABP at 13-15 months of age, carcase weights up to 400kg, with the majority hitting U grades and this year selling for up to 395p per kg due to the Angus premium," Martin added.

Alongside the Aberdeen Angus, Martin and Gemma run a small herd of 12 pedigree Charolais cows and a flock of 400 breeding ewes, compromising of hill and park-type North Country Cheviots, as well as pedigree Roussins.

"Charolais bulls are often sold privately, with a few going out to society sales where they have previously sold to 10,000gns. Two bulls were forward at the Stirling sale in May 2019, which were awarded champion and reserve at the show and went on to sell for top price of 8500gns and 6500gns, as well as topping the Angus trade on the day with McCornick Delboy T419 at 7200gns," Martin commented.

Carrs Billington feeding is used in the form of cake for youngstock and suckler rolls for cows in spring and autumn and all purchased through Tarff Valley with nutritional advice from Henry McTeir. To ensure that the bulls are in tip top condition, they are provided a Galloway McLeod specialist bull mix on the run up to big events.

The McCornicks are also big fans of local agricultural shows, which they rely upon to promote their various pedigree enterprises.

"We usually attend a couple of our local shows, Wigtown and Dumfries and travel further afield to the Agri-Expo Winter National and some summer national shows too. Last year, we also exhibited at the Royal Highland Show for the first time and came away with the overall championship amongst the Aberdeen-Angus, which has been one of our biggest achievements," said Martin.

Commenting on the future of the breed and a post-Brexit industry, Martin concluded: "I don't think anyone can predict what's going to happen regarding Brexit, especially now that we are dealing with an ever bigger problem in the form of Coronavirus. All we can do at the moment is continue working hard producing and marketing our high quality Scottish and British products."

"These days producers do not want a huge animal that needs a lot of feed to finish, so the breed is attracting many new buyers. The Angus are easily managed and can produce quality pedigree and commercial calves that attract premium prices and that is why, I believe, they are in a strong position against other notable beef breeds."

The McCornicks have a cracking team of four Aberdeen-Angus bulls for next weekend’s breed sales at Stirling, so if you want a hardy, easy fleshing, easy calving bull with a good temperament, you know where to go.


  • Martin is a third generation farmer after his grandfather moved into Boreland farm, in 1929, as a tenant. The farm was bought in November, 2018, runs to more than 200ft above sea, with 600 acres of rough grazing and permanent pasture.
  • Family made up of Martin and wife, Emma, and daughters, Gemma and Kate.
  • Farm is home to 100 head of pedigree Angus cows, 400 breeding sheep and 12 Charolais cows, as well as a small number of Angus cross commercial cattle.
  • Calving is mid-April-June, all outside with the majority of the herd outwintered.
  • Breeding bulls sold privately and through Stirling or Carlisle Bull Sales, while fattened bulls are sold deadweight through ABP with the remainder of youngstock sold as stores through United Auctions, in Stirling.


  • Best advice you have received?: “You don’t learn anything with your mouth open.”
  • Favourite restaurant?: Paco’s in Perth was the family favourite on our twice yearly visits to the bull sales. Unfortunately, I haven’t ever managed to make it back there for a meal since the bull sales moved to Stirling.
  • An abiding memory?: I have two! Firstly, my two daughters bringing out McCornick Keira U451 at the Royal Highland Show, in 2019 (after many years of them asking to show there), and watching Gemma lead her out to win the first strong class of twelve heifers, then going on to win the overall Aberdeen-Angus championship. Next has to be watching McCornick Pathfinder U465, lead by Kate, winning intermediate and overall champion at the February Bull Sales, this year. Both achievements of a lifetime!
  • Biggest disappointment?: That my late father Peter, who was born at Boreland farmhouse, in 1932, didn’t live to see us owning the farm. He passed away in August 2018, just three months before we completed the purchase of the farm, after nearly 90 years as tenants.
  • Best holiday you’ve been on?: My last foreign holiday was my honeymoon 29 years ago! Due to our keen interest in pedigree breeding as a family, holidays have usually involved agricultural shows or sales, with visits to Yorkshire always including a couple of days at the Great Yorkshire Show, and trips to bull sales in Perth and now Stirling.