How Did Hereford Cattle Originate?


2 Answers

Karin Lindquist Profile
Karin Lindquist answered
From Hereford page on Oklahoma State's Breed of Livestock page:

"The Hereford breed was founded some two and one-half centuries ago as a product
  of necessity. Thrifty and enterprising farmers near Hereford in the  County
  of Herefordshire, England,
  were determined to produce beef for the expanding food market created by Britain's
  industrial revolution. To succeed in Herefordshire, these early-day cattlemen
  realized they must have cattle which could efficiently convert their native
  grass to beef and do it at a profit.

"There was no breed in existence at the time to fill that need, so the farmers
    of Herefordshire founded the beef breed that logically became known as Herefords.
    These early Hereford breeders molded their cattle with the idea in mind of
    a high yield of beef and efficiency of production, and so firmly fixed these
    characteristics that they remain today as outstanding characteristics of the
  "Beginning in 1742 with a bull calf from the cow Silver and two cows, Pidgeon
    and Mottle, inherited from his father's estate, Benjamin Tomkins is credited
    with founding the Hereford breed. This was 18 years before Robert Bakewell
    began developing his theories of animal breeding. From the start, Mr. Tomkins
    had as his goals economy in feeding, natural aptitude to grow and gain from
    grass and grain, rustling ability, hardiness, early maturity and prolificacy,
    traits that are still of primary importance today.
  "Other pioneering breeders were to follow the Tomkins' lead and establish
    the world-wide renown for the Herefordshire cattle causing their exportation
    from England to wherever grass grows and beef production is possible.
  "Herefords in the 1700's and early 1800's in England were much larger than
    today. Many mature Herefords of those days weighed 3,000 pounds or more. Cot more,
    a winning show bull and noteworthy sire, weighed 3,900 pounds when shown in
    1839. Gradually, the type and conformation changed to less extreme size and
    weight to get more smoothness, quality and efficiency."

Today, there are yes both Miniature Herefords, but there are still the traditional-sized Herefords that have an average weight of around 1400 lbs for cows and 2200 lbs for bulls.  Historically, the Hereford breed had taken over in North America in from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's, but popularity decreased as the Angus breed took over.  But the Hereford breed still holds strong, even though there is only a few thousand registered breeders in both the American Hereford Association and Canadian Hereford Association.
Kath Senior Profile
Kath Senior answered

In the middle ages, cows all looked different but today, a herd of cows looks very much the same. This has happened because of selective breeding over the years to produce cattle that are good at making milk or that provide good beef.

The first true herd of Hereford cattle were bred by a family of farmers in Herefordshire in the 1700s. The Tomkins family looked for qualities in their cattle that could graze on local grass and that would grow quickly and produce good meat. Through in-breeding they created the Hereford in 1756 and this line of cattle has continued until the present day.

The breed has changed over the years – in the 1700s and 1800s the cattle were much bigger than they are today but they have been bred to be smaller and more efficient. Today's cattle are known as Miniature Herefords and are less than half the size of the original herd members.

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