The Hereford is one of the UK's oldest native beef breeds, originating in the County of Herefordshire in the mid 1700s, later spreading to most parts of the UK and the rest of the world. Over the centuries, the breed has evolved through various initiatives implemented by its Society, underpinned by an extensive knowledge of the breed and supreme stockmanship.
Identity: Throughout its history the Hereford has maintained its distinctive white face and red coat. All cross-bred Hereford cattle feature a white face, a distinct advantage for easier traceability and future predictability.
Foraging Ability: Herefords are well suited to forage based diets and as grass continues to be the cheapest form of feed, this improves financial returns. Research at Bristol University has shown beef produced off grass has a longer shelf life & better colour, is high in the essential fatty acid omega-3 and has a distinctive taste.
Docility: Hereford cattle are famous for their good temperament, a trait which eases management and improves operators safety. As farms continue to cut labour, this will be an increasingly important factor. Less stress during marketing also enhances beef quality.
Adaptability: Great phenotype variability means that the Hereford is an animal capable of adapting to all types of production systems and environmental conditions. This is why Hereford genetics have been exported to all regions of the world. Their genetics having been used equally in pedigree herds and cross breeding programmes.
Ease of Calving: Herefords have traditionally been used in the dairy sector because of their easy calving; resulting in an increased calf crop, viable cross-bred calves and reduced veterinary costs.
During the past ten years finishing weights of Hereford sired progeny have increased significantly, averaging in excess of 300kg deadweight. However calf birth weights and ease of calving have remained constant, providing a welfare friendly environment for breeding females.
Fertility: Herefords are prolific breeders, an important characteristic for any breed as it affects profitability more than any other factor. Herefords weaning percentages are consistently in excess of 90%. Hereford stock bulls and breeding females also have a great longevity producing thrifty calves for many years.
Ease of management: The number of Hereford herds in the UK continues to expand at a phenomenal rate for many reasons, not least because of their ease of management from ease of calving to ease of handling.
Quality Beef: Herefords finished off grassland produce an excellent 'marbled' beef that is in great demand both within the UK and for export due to its distinctive flavour and renowned eating quality. It commands a premium at retail level when sold through the branded beef schemes and delivers increased returns to producers. Waitrose commenced with a Hereford Beef Scheme in the late 1990's and sales have increased significantly year on year.