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Breed information


Geographical - historical info 

For hundreds of years Herefords have grazed the rich pastures of Great Britain. Long before the formation of the present type, they had an excellent reputation as a primarily beef breed and were known to produce fine, large draught oxen. Though not generally classed as dairy cattle, Herefords can produce a useful quantity of milk. Although the origin of the breed is not fully known, Herefords are probably related to the neighbouring Gloucester, Welsh Black and the now extinct Glamorgan of South Wales, as well as to the Devon and Sussex of Southwest England. 


At the beginning of the 19th century the first exports of Hereford cattle had taken place to North America and within 100 years it had become the major beef breed in  Canada, the USA and Australia but it has recently declined in numbers. Other important breed populations, with their own herdbooks and breed societies arose in Denmark, Sweden, France, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In the 1980 the world population had reached 5 million head, distributed over 50 countries. A herdbook for the breed was established in the Netherlands in 1992, and the Dutch Hereford Society a year later. 


Morphological info

With time the breed type changed, according to changes in demand. When the need for working oxen declined during the 19th century, the breed became smaller, bulkier and put on more meat and fat. The back-fat could grow to 15 cm. (...) In the sixties the extremely well-fleshed bulls averaged 835 kg only, standing 135 cm at the withers. During the seventies the Hereford was bred for larger size and longer bodies were achieved through selection and by the use of American Herefords. The Polled Hereford imported from the USA is responsible for the polled condition in 85% of the British Herefords of today. The cows average 140 cm and weigh 600-800 kg; the bulls average 152 cm and weigh 1,000-1,200 kg. The highly hereditary colour pattern of the light to dark red Hereford - the white face, withers, chest, bottom line, tail switch and feet - make Herefords and their offspring easily distinguishable from other cattle; for this reason the breed is popular in commercial crossbreeding with dairy cows. At an age of 21 months the Hereford weighs 540 kg, thus it is ready for slaughter six months earlier than continental breeds.


The North-American Hereford is of large stature. Indeed, by using these sires the British Hereford has been re-bred to its original large size. Today, with no evident distinction between the British and the American Hereford, the external description of the breed corresponds with the original Hereford.  


Source: Marleen Felius, Cattle breeds - an encyclopedia, Doetinchem, Netherlands : Misset, 1995           



Hereford links


The Hereford Cattle Society

UK Hereford Cattle Society 

Cattle Today

Oklahoma University, Animal Science Dept

Irish Hereford Breed Society

American Hereford Association

Canadian Hereford Association


Basic breed info
Name: Hereford

Origin: UK, authentic breed 

Status: National/global

Size: Medium

Purpose: Beef



15th World Hereford Conference

29 June-1 July 2008

Copenhagen, Denmark



Information on the Polled Hereford breed




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