The origin of the Hereford has been lost over time but it is generally agreed that it was founded on the draught ox descended from the small red cattle of Roman Briton and from a large Welsh breed once numerous along the border of England and Wales. Herefords have taken their name from the county Herefordshire, an historic agricultural region of England where this breed has evolved. The origins of this breed of cattle in the County of Herefordshire have been mentioned by various agricultural authors as long ago as the early 1600’s. During the 1700’s and early 1800’s documented records of the breed were maintained by various individuals in and around the Herefordshire area.
The Herefords are docile, efficient and productive. The breed’s temperament will impact positively on your herd (though there can be some crazy ones too). Herefords thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions.
All Herefords are red and white, with red varying from a deep cherry red to a light buckskin-orange colour. Cattle of this breed will have white running from their faces to behind their ears and down their chest, dewlap and brisket to between their front legs, all along the lower belly, covering the flanks, and end at the point tween their legs. Most will have this white stripe running from the back of their heads to their withers (which is located behind the shoulders on the top of the animal). Some Hereford cattle may have less of a white mane than others; many of the modern Herefords may lack this. Some Herefords will lack white behind and below their ears and behind their jawline; others may have these red side-burns running just behind their ears down to almost their dewlap; still others may lack both these characteristics. Many Hereford cattle may also lack the white running from their chins down to the brisket, and may instead have a bit of red on the upper-middle portion of the chest, with the white starting on their briskets. Some Herefords may also have a red patch or reddish pigment around their eyes. On the back of the ears, there may be a small white patch running from the top of the ear to the bottom, with a lot of white in their ears Others may have a straight-red colouration instead, but retain most of the white in the ears.
Herefords are quite blocky in appearance, but are more smooth down their rump, loin, thighs and shoulders. Bulls are more masculine than cows in this respect, often having more muscle mass in the shoulders, neck and hindquarters than in cows, but this muscle mass is often less defined in Herefords than in Continental breeds. Hair on Herefords range from short, slick and smooth to short and curly. This breed will also form a thick hairy coat during winter or colder seasons, depending on where they live.
The Hereford cattle have a white face. Pigmentation can also be noticed around the eyes, and some may also be seen to have a roan-like or speckled face as well, which is often the physical evidence of breeders selecting for more maternal characteristics in the breed. Bulls almost always have curly hair around their foreheads, more so than with cows. Cows and bulls may have a broad forehead. Mature adults always have a wide-looking mouth, with the upper lips always overlapping the lips of the bottom jaw. Herefords also have big wide noses too, to accommodate for the width of the top jaw.
The Herefords are fit to survive and thrive in the environment in which it is raised, on a cost-effective basis . The Herefords have balance between the productive trait and carcass excellence, that are needed by the commercial beef industry together with other characteristics required such as fertility, milking ability, hardiness, longevity, good feed conversion.
The Hereford female is an superior mother with the capacity to meet producers demands for productivity and efficiency. The fertility and reproduction of the female Herefords affects the profit potential of a cowherd more than any other trait.
The modern Hereford sire is well muscled with good size and volume, strong feet and legs, built to withstand the tough breeding seasons. The number of services a bull achieves in a mating period is a good measure of a bull’s libido.
Other characteristics of the Herefords Breed
The Herefords are one of the most highly adaptable breeds of cattle in the world. They can be found, in desert-like conditions like that in Arizona, in tropical climates like that in Brazil and Uruguay, on rough terrain and vegetation like that in South Africa, or on wet and cool climates like the place where they originated from; Great Britain. A Hereford’s thick hide, light-and-dark coat color, and ability to live off of grass and hay alone, make it able to adapt so readily to the different climates it lives in. Herefords are known for their great temperament and docility (though there can be some crazy ones too), and because they require little management in terms of feeding, are one of the best breeds to raise on ranch or range-like conditions where most cows are selected to be able to fend for themselves most of the time.