Hereford Cattle Breed Facts, Profile, and Characteristics

Introduction to Hereford Cattle Breed:

Hereford cattle are a popular breed of beef cattle, the product of generations of breeding work on the part of land proprietors and tenant farmers in the county of Herefordshire, England. Herefordshire was noted for its luxuriant grasses, and in that district for many generations the Hereford was bred for beef purpose and draft purposes. The characteristic color, red color with a white face and white markings, has been fixed for only a comparatively short time. When the 1st herd book was published in 1846, the editor, grouped the breed into four classes: mottle-faced, light gray, dark gray, and red with white faces. The outstanding characteristics of the cattle breed are uniformity of color, early maturity, and ability to thrive under adverse conditions. Herefords with white flanks and white color markings below the knees and hocks are also common. Mature males may weigh up to 1,800 pounds, while mature females may weigh around 1,200 pounds.

History of Hereford CattleBreed:

Herefords breed was first introduced into the United States in 1817 by the politician Henry Clay, who imported a young bull, a cow, and a heifer to his home in Kentucky. In the range areas of North America it has become the predominating cattle breed from Canada on the north to Mexico on the south. In Great Britain it is mainly bred in the county of Hereford and Worcester and its vicinity, although herds of this breed are found in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The Hereford breed also has met with much success under range conditions of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil.

The first breeding of this herd in USA is considered to be established in 1840 by William H. Sotham and Erastus Corning of Albany, New York and for practical purposes Herefords in the US date from the Sotham-Corning beginning. The more densely populated eastern area of the US, including herds in New England, was the early home of Herefords and from there they fanned out to the South and West as the population extended and the demand for beef increased.

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Typical breed characteristics of Hereford:

The Hereford color is characteristic, with the body color varying from rusty brown to a deep rich red color. Face, crest, dewlap, underline, switch and legs below the hocks are characteristically white color. The distinctive white color face tends to dominate in crosses with all other breeds and may have been a feature in establishing the breed’s popularity.

Ability to do well on a wide range of pastoral conditions and to assimilate roughage, coupled with its excellent fertility, foraging ability and docility, account for its success. Depending on the level of nutrition and management, the cattle breed can be produced as top-quality car cases ranging from heavy, marbled and fat, through to small, young and lightly furnished.

Hereford Cattle Breed profile:

Breed Name     Hereford
Breed Purpose       Meat
Breed Size     Medium to large
Weight      Bulls       Around 1300 kg
Weight         Cows      Around 800
Climate Tolerance      All climates
Coat Color      Dark red to red-yellow
Milk Yield      Poor
Country/Place of Origin      England


All Herefords are red and white color, with red varying from a deep cherry red to a light buckskin-orange color. Cattle of this breed will have white color running from their faces behind their ears and down their chest, dewlap and brisket to between their front legs, along the lower belly, casing the flanks, and end at the point tween their legs. Most will have this white color stripe running from the back of their heads to their withers (which is located behind the shoulders at the top of the animal). Some Hereford breed cattle may have less of a whiter than others; many of the modern Herefords may lack this. Some Herefords will lack white color behind and under their ears and behind their jawline; others may have these red sideburns running just behind their ears down to almost their dewlap; still, others may lack both these type characteristics. Many Hereford breed 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 color starting on their briskets. Some Herefords breed may also have a red patch or reddish pigment around their eyes. On the back of the ears, there may be a small white color 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 coloration instead, but retain most of the white in the ears.

Body type and characteristics:

The Herefords breed is quite blocky in appearance, but are smoother down their rump, loin, thighs, and shoulders. Bulls are more masculine than cows in this respect; often having additional muscle mass in the shoulders, neck, and hindquarters than in cows, but this muscle mass is often less defined in Hereford cattle than in Continental breeds.  Hair of Hereford’s breed range from short, slick, and smooth to short and curly.

Herefords also tend to be smaller in frame and body size than many of the larger breeds, though there are those ranches that may have large Hereford cattle breed. Herefords that live further north where snow and winter predominate tend to develop a thicker coat than those that live near the Equator and only experience cold rainy seasons.

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Head characteristics:

All Hereford cattle breed has a white face. Pigmentation also 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 extra maternal characteristics in the breed cattle. Hereford Bulls almost have curly hair around their foreheads, more so than with cows. Hereford Cows and bulls may have a broad forehead, but it’s often not as broad as other breeds like Brahmans. Mature adults always have a wide-looking mouth, with the upper lips always overlapping the lips of the base jaw. Herefords have big wide noses as well which can accommodate the width of the top jaw. The horns of bulls and the horns of cows, if not corrected with weights, will grow up and forward.

Other characteristics:

Herefords are one of the most extremely adaptable breeds of cattle in the world. They can be found as far north as the northern reaches of Alberta or Canada, in desert-like conditions like that in Arizona, in tropical climates like that in Brazil and Uruguay, on rough terrain and vegetation that in South Africa, or on wet and cooler climates like the place where they originated from; Great Britain. A Hereford’s breed 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 cattle 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 a ranch or range-like conditions where the most cows are selected to be able to fend for themselves most of the time.

Characteristics of Hereford cattle:

The Hereford cattle breed can withstand the toughest of climates. Today, the cattle breed can be found as far afield as the arctic snows in Finland, in the heat of Southern Africa and in sub-tropical South America. Over 5 million pedigree Hereford cattle breed is thriving in over 50 countries.


The Herefords breed is fit to survive and thrive in the environment in which it is raised, on a cost-effective basis. The Herefords breed has a balance between the productive trait and carcass excellence, that is needed by the commercial beef industry together with other characteristics required, such as fertility, milking ability, hardiness, longevity, good feed conversion.


The Hereford breed female is a superior mother with the capacity to meet the producer’s demands for productivity and efficiency. The fertility and reproduction of the female Herefords breed affect the profit potential of a cowherd more than any other trait. The modern Hereford sire is well muscled with high-quality size and volume, strong feet and legs, built to withstand the tough breeding seasons.


The Hereford’s breed is known for its docility, making it easy to manage and work with. For farmers and ranchers, that good temperament is the main safety factor.


Hereford breed cows are renowned for their high fertility rates and ease of calving. Hereford cows possess strong maternal instincts. Easy birth and natural motherliness cut down on labor demands on farms and ranches.


From a business perspective, one of the Hereford’s breed most important traits is early maturity, coupled with longevity. Not only does the fertile Hereford breed cow generally produce calves easily, but she can also be bred at an earlier age and continue producing calves later in life than similar breeds. According to The Cattle breed Site, “Many breeders keep their elderly cattle until they die of natural causes.”

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Known as good foragers, Hereford’s breed is extremely efficient at converting grass into body mass. An adaptable breed, Herefords flourish in various climates and terrains, making them a good quality choice for breeders internationally. Their economy of feeding means they are cheaper to rise to market weight than other beef cattle breeds.

Hereford cow facts:

Hereford Females weigh around 1300 kilos; mature males can weigh over 800 kilos. They are muscular animals, very well developed in regions that provide valuable cuts; the back, hindquarters and loin. The breed is renowned for producing naturally marbled beef, which is succulent and complete of flavor.

Hereford breed cattle are also renowned for their foraging ability, longevity, and good temperament. Hereford breed cows calve easily and often produce calves beyond 15 years of age. Hereford Bulls can remain profitable at stud to 12 years of age and beyond.

Distribution of Hereford Cattle Breed:

The Hereford breed is one of the most numerous of all breeds in Australia. It is found throughout the country in all extremes of environment, but mostly in the central and southeastern states, and in South Australia and southern Western Australia.

More than 5 million pedigree Herefords exist in over 50 countries. The export of Hereford’s breed began in 1817, spreading across the United States and Canada through Mexico to the great beef-raising countries of South America.


Hereford cattle are mainly reared for meat purposes. They are mostly used for meat production. But they are also good for milk production and produce enough milk for their calves.

Advantages of Hereford Cattle Breed:

  • Herefords are normally docile and fast-growing cattle with good beef quality.
  • Very active, well adapted to almost all climates.

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