When you look over the field gate, you must like what you see. But it must be practical too. The Hereford has a distinctive white face
and red coat. Even with cross-breed mating, a Hereford parent will produce offspring with the trademark white face.
Docility: Docile cattle are easier to handle, are less stressed during marketing and produce better eating quality meat. Hereford cattle are famous for their good temperament. In the modern day where farms endeavour to cut labour costs, this is a hugely important factor, not to mention the health and safety aspect -handling calm, sensible animals is better for all.
Efficiency : Moderate mature body weight and efficient feed conversion means that you can run more Hereford cows on a given area of land than many so-called "high performance" breeds. More cows and higher fertility gives Herefords the leading edge when you compare breeds on production per hectare.
On Forage: Herefords are well suited to forage based diets. Grass continues to be the cheapest form of feed, grain and compound feed prices are rocketing. The Hereford with is ability to do on grass/forage 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.
Fertility : Fertility (and reproduction) affects the profit potential of a cow herd more than any other trait and Herefords are renowned for their high fertility. The Hereford cow managed properly will calve when she is two years of age and will continue to produce and wean a calf every 365 days, not just in the good years. Hereford stock bulls and breeding females also have a great longevity producing thrifty calves for many years.
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. So far all of our cows and heifers have put healthy calves on the floor with no calving assistance. They have excellent mothering qualities. Across the breed, Herefords weaning percentages are consistently in excess of 90%.
Versatility & Adaptability : Darwin's survivial of the fittest was really the survival of the most adaptable and versatile and here, in the Hereford, you have a breed that is able to thrive and adapt easily to the variety of management systems and diverse environmental conditions across the world. Herefords are not locked into just one market - miss it and you're done - rather they have an inbuilt versatility that allows them to "carry on" to fit a range of market opportunities.
Performance: Herefords combine growth, milk and carcase traits in a package of OPTIMUM performance. Not maximum milk that causes rebreeding problems in a poor season; not maximum muscle that causes calving problems and female infertility; not maximum growth with its late maturity that can make you overshoot the market - but an OPTIMUM blend of those traits that's profitable for every sector of the industry, that keeps the buyers coming back for more.
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.
Marketability : Breeding cattle is only half the job - marketing is the other half, and you start ahead of the pack with Herefords. Store Herefords are keenly sought by restockers, and finishers, while they are the preferred breed with quality butchers. This means they are always negotiable regardless of age, weight, condition or season.
Explanation of the names
All UK pedigree Herefords have a two part name - the first part is the herd prefix. This is the name that the breeder has registered with the Hereford Cattle Society as the herd name. All pedigree animals that are to be registered will have a name that starts with the herd prefix - in our case, Highhedges. In the case of heifer calves, these will usually take the name of their mother, so if you look down the maternal dam lines, the dams will all have the same name. They then have a number or number/letter combination to distinguish each from its dam. In the case of bull calves, these are usually given a name that starts with the management letter that corresponds to the year of their birth. All cattle, regardless of whether they are pedigree or not, have to have their births registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), have to be ear tagged with a unique identifier and have a passport that matches the number on their ear tags. Every time that a beast is moved off or onto our farm, we report this to BCMS. BCMS therefore have a complete trace of movements, which is used where there are disease breakdowns.