Hereford, popular breed of beef cattle, the product of generations of breeding work on the part of landed proprietors and tenant farmers in the county of Herefordshire (now in Hereford and Worcester county), England. Herefordshire was noted for its luxuriant grasses, and in that district for many generations the Hereford was bred for beef and draft purposes. The characteristic colour, red with a white face and white markings, has been fixed for only a comparatively short time. When the first herdbook was published in 1846, the editor grouped the breed into four classes: mottle-faced, light gray, dark gray, and red with white faces. Twenty-five years later all but the last had practically disappeared. The outstanding characteristics of the breed are uniformity of colour, early maturity, and ability to thrive under adverse conditions.

The origin of the Hereford has been lost over time but it is generally agreed that it was founded on the draught ox descended from the small red cattle of Roman Briton and from a large Welsh breed once numerous along the border of England and Wales. Herefords have taken their name from the county Herefordshire, an historic agricultural region of England where this breed has evolved.

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.

Herefords Become Dominant

It was largely through shows and expositions that Herefords gained their greatest acceptance among cattlemen of this country and, no doubt, the first great impact was scored at the 1883 Chicago Fat Stock Show, the forerunner of the famous International Livestock Exposition which, until closing after the 1975 event, was the premier show for market animals in America. At this show over a century ago, the Hereford steer Roan Boy won the grand championship for his exhibitor, C. M. Culbertson. The steer’s early maturity marked the beginning of the end for the previously popular four-year-old steers — the big, rough, old fashioned kind. In 1886, a two-year-old Hereford was grand champion and in 1903 Hereford yearlings won the carlot grand championship. Three years later a 336-day-old Hereford won the show, the first ever at less than two years old.

Characteristics Of A Hereford Cow

The modern Hereford is coloured dark red to red-yellow, with a white face, crest, dewlap, and underline. Herefords with white flanks and white markings below the knees and hocks are also common. Most animals have short thick horns that typically curve down at the sides of the head, but there is a polled strain in North America and UK (Polled Hereford).

Mature males may weigh up to 1,800 pounds, while mature females may weigh around 1,200. They are muscular, moderate to long in length of side, adequate in length of leg, large in size, trim, and smooth. They are also well developed in the regions of valuable cuts – the back, loin, and hind quarters or round.

These cattle are known for their vigor and foraging ability and for their longevity, many females live and produce calves beyond the age of 15 years. Bulls are capable of remaining profitable at stud to the age of 12 or more. Many breeders keep their elderly cattle until they die of natural causes.

Herefords will stand out in the arctic snows of Finland, endure the heat of Northern Transvaal, withstand the tough climate and rough grazing of northern Uruguay or the sub-tropical zones of Brazil and continue to thrive.

Herefords are generally docile and fast growing cattle with good beef quality.

General Features of A Hereford Cow

  • Greater weight for age and rate of gain either at pasture or on yard feeding
  • The ability to command top prices in the markets as finished beef or as store cattle
  • A higher selling price for breeding stock
  • Greater economy of gain in feeding
  • High percentage of calf crops
  • Lower wintering costs
  • Docility and ease of management
  • Lower labour costs
  • Early maturity and longevity

How Much Does A Beef Cow Weigh?

A typical beef cow such as Angus weighs around 1210 lbs (550kb) for a mature female, and around 1870 lbs (850 kg) for bulls (on average). For a typical herd, this is not a very useful answer because the herd may consist of a variety of cows by age and breed.

Cow weight will greatly vary based on many factors.

Angus beef cow will be about 450-550 pounds when 6 months old, while a mature heifer could weigh anywhere between 800 and 1400 pounds. Heifer growth is usually compared to breed standards to determine normal progress.

The average weight of male beef cows by breed (bulls):

  • Angus – 1,870 pounds (850 kg)
  • Hereford – 1,800 pounds (816 kg)
  • Limousin – 2,530 pounds (1150 kg)
  • Brahman – 2,100 pounds (950 kg)
  • Simmental – 2,500 pounds (1134 kg)
  • Shorthorn – 2,100 pounds (950 kg)

How Much Does A Herefords  Cow Cost?

The cost of a cow can be determined by a few factors such as the gender of the cow, the cows’ weight, as well as the breed of the specific cow.

The cost difference will also be determined by what the purpose of the cow is, is it for beef or dairy production?

Yearling cows and cows sold in pairs, for example, a mother and calf, are generally less expensive compared to buying a fully grown cow or a heifer without a calf.

Cows that you can buy from a slaughterhouse will also be cheaper, but this can be risky as they may have some underlying conditions which could be expensive to treat. 

Yearlings will cost about $800 to $1500, slaughter cows with an average weight of 1.200 lbs will cost about $600, and the cost for a pair (heifer and calf) will be determined by the individual farmer but is generally less expensive. 

Let’s go into more detail about the cost of the individual cows.

The Worth Of A Herefords  Cow-Calf

How much a calf will cost you depends on two factors, these are the size of the calf as well as the weight of the calf.

For example, if you are buying a calf that is only one day old, then it will require a lot more care and work; this is because you will need to feed the calf milk every day from a bottle. 

For a calf that is this young, it will likely cost in the ballpark of about $40 to $50, but this is because they do have a high mortality rate when they are separated from their mothers from such a young age.

Whereas a calf that is 4 to 6 months old, this calf is considered to be efficient and stable, therefore they tend to be more expensive.

For example, a yearling beef calf will usually cost around $650 to $750 per calf, and a yearling dairy calf will cost around $450 to $600 per calf.

The older and more stable the calf is, then the more expensive the calf will be.

How Much Does A Cow Weigh When Butchered?

For commercial productions, cows weigh usually 900 to 1,350 pounds at slaughter. The average cattle weight at slaughter will depend on customer demands, which determine the age range and weight of cattle.

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