Lovely red and white cattle, the Hereford breed is a valuable part of the United States beef herd. These cattle have changed significantly since their development in the mid-1700s, morphing from a large, rangy animal in the early 1800s to a shorter, fatter cow in the 1950s. Currently, Herefords are moderately-sized. Herefords offer good feed efficiency, high fertility, and long, productive lives.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Bovinae
Genus - Bos
Species - B. taurus
Common Names - Hereford, Polled Hereford, Horned Hereford
Hereford cows typically rich red in color with white faces. They usually have white tail switches and some white markings on their briskets, lower legs, and bellies. The white face is usually a dominant feature, even when the Hereford crosses with other breeds. Two varieties of Hereford exist: polled (no horns) and horned. The polled variety is dominant in breeding. Hereford cows usually weigh around 1200 pounds and have muscular, beefy physiques.
Hereford cows mature early and are capable of reproducing around the age of 1. However, most breeders wait until 18 months to breed their cows so that the first calving occurs around 2 years of age. Hereford cows have long, fertile lives; many of them continue producing calves reliably until they are 15 years old.
Among the beef breeds, Herefords are some of the most docile cows. They are excellent mothers and tend to stay calm. Herefords are appealing to breeders because they are usually easy to handle.
Almost 300 years ago, breeders in Herefordshire, England developed the Hereford breed. They wanted to develop a beef cow that could produce plenty of meat on grass. In 1742, Benjamin Tomkins began selectively breeding cattle that would eventually become the Hereford breed. In 1817, Henry Clay brought a few Herefords to the United States, but it wasn't until the 1840s that the first pure-bred herd of Herefords was established. This herd began in New York State, and in 1881 the American Hereford Cattle Breeder's Association was established. Naturally polled Herefords were exhibited at the 1888 World's Fair and breeders began selecting for the polled trait. The size of Hereford's have changed over the years, but this beef breed still delivers excellent beef efficiently.
Hereford cows are popular in beef-producing countries across the world. Over 5 million of them exist in over 50 countries. They do well in the United States, Mexico, Australia, South America, and Russia.