Hazeldean was settled in the early 1860s by James Litchfield who travelled from Essex, England. James came to the Monaro with a letter of introduction to prominent squatter William Bradley who controlled more than 120,000 hectares of land stretching from Cooma to Bombala in south eastern New South Wales. After a short time as overseer at Bradleys Monaro headquarters, Coolringdon, James was employed as manager of the Myalla lease.
With the advent of the 1861 Crown Lands Act, which ended the squatting era, James Litchfield took up his first 130 hectare block on the Cooma Back Creek. Four years later, he founded the Hazeldean Merino Stud and continued to expand his pastoral interests. By 1891, he had acquired in excess of 18,000 hectares of land on the Monaro. On retiring he divided his estate between his four sons, who operated their portions as a partnership until 1910.
The eldest son, Arthur James Litchfield assumed control of Hazeldean but was forced to sell out in 1918 due to poor health. By a twist of fate, he was able to buy back the property and its original stock in 1923 for his son, James Francis Litchfield, who further developed the Hazeldean Merino stud, introduced Angus cattle to Hazeldean in 1926, founded the Hazeldean Angus stud and expanded the company's pastoral interests. He received an OBE in 1972 for services to the Wool Industry.
Fourth generation, James Litchfield developed the Hazeldean Angus Stud founded by his father and expanded the size and influence of both the Merino and Angus studs. He has been recognised as a pioneer in the application of proven scientific research and for his contribution to Australian livestock production with a number of awards. These include the Beef Improvement Associations Howard Yelland award for services to the beef industry in 1988, the Eliza Furlonge Medal for services to sheepbreeding and science, the NSW Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries Shield for support and co-operation, election as Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics in 1995,and the Helen Newton Turner Medal for Contribution to genetic improvement in the Merino Industry 1997.
Today, fifth generation Jim Litchfield is Managing Director of the Company and has further expanded the pastoral interests of Hazeldean through the acquisition of properties and expansion of the business. He has served on many committees including AGBU and the MSA grading committee. Now, his eldest daughter and right hand man, Bea Litchfield, continues in the tradition of breeding and genetics, as the sixth generation of Litchfields.
The Litchfield family have educated many jackeroos, overseers and managers in the art of sheep and cattle breeding and in performance recording and objective measurement, coupled with visual assessment to select and identify top animals and best practice in livestock breeding.
Many of the leaders in the livestock industry today have spent time at Hazeldean giving them the foundations and knowledge to take into leadership roles in the agricultural industry, such as Graham Greenhalgh & Jock Laurie, and into farm management and livestock consulting, such as Nev and Ian McMichael, Jim Symon, Jason Southwell, Jim Steele, James Hart, and Craig Wilson.