The Herefords‘ coat colours are unmistakable: dark red-brown coat, white head. The neck, breast, belly and switch are also white. A white neck is desirable. (Photo: Walter Fässler)
The Hereford breed originates from the county of Herefordshire in the west of England. Herefords were used there as draught animals and were extremely popular. It was enough to feed the animals with cheap grass. Moreover, they had a calm character and strong nerves, which made them very easy to work with. They have retained these characteristics over the centuries, although since the 17th century they have been bred increasingly for meat production and used less and less as draught animals.
Since the early 19th century, the breed has spread all over the globe. On the one hand, this is surely due to their adaptability to different climate conditions with a corresponding meagre supply of fodder. On the other hand, their calm character may have also played a role, as it facilitated their handling and significantly reduced dangers during the weeks-long journeys by ship across the oceans.
Herefords are known for their calm character. Nevertheless, the mother animals of this breed have a pronounced maternal instinct. However, they stand in front of their calf and cock their head at you in situations where suckler cows of other breeds would already go on the attack. (Photo: Walter Fässler)
Nowadays, no breed is as common worldwide: some 100 million Herefords are bred in over 50 countries. However, numerous different types and lines, even new breeds, have emerged over the years. In hot and humid climates like Brazil, for example, Brahman cattle are crossbred to boost their resistance to insect-borne diseases. Since 1946, these crossbreeds have been listed as a separate breed called Braford.
In Switzerland, natural hornlessness is emphasised in breeding Herefords. They have adapted very well to the climate conditions in this country and produce top-quality meat from grass with extremely good roughage conversion. Nevertheless, the dark red animals with their white head are not to be seen all that often.
Herefords produce top-quality meat from grass on Swiss meadows as well (Photo: provided)