The Hereford has long been the icon of the cattle industry. Their breeding is seeped in tradition and has steadfast supporters. Large framed, red bodies with their trademark white faces, Herefords populate cattle pastures the whole world over. One would be hard pressed to find a more resilient and overall outstanding breed of beef cattle, which has so thoroughly conquered the beef business.
Of British origin, the Hereford evolved from the native red cattle of western England. These early animals were much larger than their easier fleshing, modern counterparts. Always a hardy breed they were able to efficiently convert grazing into body mass making them exceedingly popular in their region and attractive to all cattlemen.
In 1817, Henry Clay imported the first three Herefords to the United States. While they initially drew attention, the Herefords were quickly absorbed into the general cattle population. It was in 1840 that William Sotham and Erastus Corning brought them back into the public eye by active breeding and marketing within the New England states.
The Hereford industry gained heavy impetus with the importation and promotion of Anxiety 4, called the “father of the American Hereford”. The momentum continued with increased exhibitions and participation in cattle shows. Slowly but very firmly, the Hereford breed began to prove its presence in the cattle industry.
On June 22, 1881 the American Hereford Association was formed in an attempt to promote interest for the Hereford in addition to serving as a record-keeping seat. Both horned and polled Herefords were registered under the Association. The AHA continues to be active and involved in all aspects and commercial needs of its ever-increasing membership now the second largest in terms of numbers and members. One of their main accomplishments was the push and ultimate creation of a Certified Hereford Beef program.
It is no overstatement to say Herefords owe their success to heritable qualities. A docile breed with high fertility levels, Herefords calve easily and have excellent maternal instincts. They are without a doubt an optimum choice when seeking maximum heterosis. A highly popular cross the Black Baldie, combines the enduring traits of the Hereford with the high meat quality of the Angus.
On its own, Hereford beef does not however fall short of the superior eating qualities required of Select or Choice grade meats. It is because of the undeniable palatability of the naturally tender Hereford that the newly formed Certified Hereford Program is an escalating economic success. An impressive percentage of cattle meeting the live animal specs will meet the carcass specs for the CHB program. Herefords have joined the Angus as the only two branded beef labels with multiple packers.
As is likely within all economic venues, the cattle industry not having the necessary performance data and cattle experience, at one point considered the Hereford to be a relatively inferior beef. Due to its high popularity and adaptability in all regions, they were for a time not as carefully selected for the most favorable beef breeding scene. Today, Herefords have demonstrated they are high quality beef cattle in every aspect. Lightheartedly alleged by ranchers to subsist on sticks and rocks, they are excellent foragers, excellent mothers and provide a consistently excellent eating experience.
The American Hereford Association: www.hereford.org