Hereford Cattle are originally from Herefordshire, England. They were imported into the United States in the late 1800s to improve the currently available stock. The rangy, tough stock that grew wild in Texas did not provide the quality of meat most people in the eastern states wanted to eat. With a few prolific bulls and heifers, foundation herds were created that provided a vast improvement in quality of meat while the wild genetics of the Longhorns added endurance and heat tolerance to the stock.
The Hereford Cattle Society located at 3 Offa Street, Hereford HR1 2LL, United Kingdom 01432 272 057 is the official home of the registry in England. The home of the American Hereford Association is in Kansas City, Missouri. The association sponsors many shows throughout the year for both horned and polled animals. Currently three sizes of Herefords are recognized: the modern size with bulls measuring to a maximum of 60 inches at the hip, classic measuring 50 inches at the hip, and miniature measuring 40 inches at the hip.
In the middle of the 20th century many producers were pushing to breed larger animals on the theory that they were more economical. This produced the modern sized Hereford. One breeder sought to produce smaller animals. This trend brought about the Australian Miniature Hereford Cattle Association and maintains the breed’s registry. In the United States the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association is the home for breeders who want to compete in shows and network with other breeders. As stated above they must not be taller than 40 inches at the hip, and they must have a frame score of 2 or less at 2 years of age.
Herefords are striking animals with red bodies and legs and white face and underbelly. The polled animals are popular since horns can cause significant injury to both animals and handlers. Polled animals carry a genetic characteristic that makes them hornless. This was identified by Warren Gammon at the beginning of the 20th century. He assembled eleven animals and founded this wing of the Hereford breed. Both horned and polled are entered in the registry.
Herefords have many characteristics and proven genetics that make them excellent for crossing with other breeds. The Beefmaster breed and the Braford breed are both indebted to the Hereford for their foundation stock. Many commercial crosses are marketed every year in the U. S.
The calm temperament and quiet nature of the Hereford is one attractive quality that cattlemen value. Because of this quality, many procedures can be executed without extra help or equipment. With the miniature and even the classic sized animals, one person can handle ordinary jobs.
The history of the Hereford breed is detailed with pictures in The Story of the Hereford by Alan H. Saunders, D. Agr., LLD.