The Hereford is one of the most iconic breeds in the cattle industry. They’re known for their trademark white faces and red bodies and their natural adaptability. While Hereford cattle are traditionally of British origin, they’re found around the world today. As opposed to other breeds, Herefords are known for their large body mass and the fact that they can efficiently convert grass and pasture into high-quality beef, so it’s no wonder that the breed has captured a large portion of the market.
History of Hereford Cattle
Hereford cattle were originally bred in 1742 in the County of Herefordshire, England. During the beginning days of the Industrial Revolution, farmers were searching for a breed of cattle that could turn grass into beef. Benjamin Tomkins was credited with creating the Hereford breed. Tomkins’ goal was to develop a type of cattle that matured early, was prolific and had a natural ability to grow from grain and grass. Tomkins achieved his goal using a bull calf and two cows–Mottle and Pidgeon–that he inherited from his late father’s estate. As a result of Tomkins’ pioneering work, one of the world’s leading cattle breeds was born. Originally, Hereford cattle were much larger than they are today. One bull, Cotmore, weighed in at 3,900 pounds when it was shown in 1839. Over the years, the breed has changed, as the focus of farmers has become more on the quality of the finished beef than on the size of individual cattle.
Hereford Cattle in the United States
Henry Clay was one of the first to import Herefords into the United States. In 1817, Clay brought three Herefords to the country where they quickly drew attention. In 1840, Erastus Corning and William Sotham furthered the breed’s reputation when they began marketing Herefords in New England.
Growing Interest in Hereford Cattle
The American Hereford Association (AHA) was formed on June 22, 1881. The group was founded to promote industry interest for the breed, and both polled and horned cattle were able to be registered under the AHA. Today, the AHA is the second largest with respect to the number of members. The AHA created the Certified Hereford Beef program to inform consumers and represent farmers. While Hereford cattle may not have the same recognition as Angus, the breed is one of only two branded beef labels, the other being Angus.
Hereford Cattle Qualities
Hereford cattle have grown in importance owing to many of their qualities. The breed is a docile one that has incredibly high fertility levels. The cattle easily calve and have outstanding maternal qualities. When used in breeding, the Hereford brings a number of desirable features to the new cattle. One of the most popular crosses, the Black Baldie, blends the best traits of Hereford and the Angus cattle.
The Future of Hereford Cattle
As consumers continue to demand high-quality beef and farmers need breeds that provide the supply, the Hereford is sure to remain one of the most popular choices. Owing to its adaptability to a wide variety of conditions, Hereford cattle will continue to control a large portion of the market segment. If you’d like more information on the resilient breed that is said to be able to forage on sticks and rocks, contact us through the online form.