The South African/Namibian Hereford is a fast growing, very fertile, medium maturing beefbreed of distinctive red brown and white colour and marking. Breed standards identify the priorities of the Hereford and continuously aim at the long term improvement of the breed through effective breeding and selection policies. These standards are regularly updated to meet the continuous changes in our beef industry.

Why is today's Hereford the most popular beef breed in the world?


The qualities which make the modern Hereford such a great breed were implanted a long time ago. So well did the breed's founders do their work that the characteristics which first distinguished the cattle of Herefordshire are the very ones which qualify it today as the most numerous and popular beefbreed of the world. Sir Benjamin Tomkins and his son sought an animal that would meet the growing demand for beef by utilizing the abundance of grass and forage then going of England. Their ideal was therefore an animal of superior grazing qualities that would produce marketable beef from grass with little or no grain. The Hereford was introduced to South Africa during 1892 with the importation of 2 bulls from England. During 1903 a further 27 cows and 4 bulls were imported by the Transvaal Government and were largely responsible for fostering interest in this breed. The popularity of the breed in Southern Africa at that time necessitated the founding of the Hereford Breeders' Society of Southern Africa in 1917 under the Presidency of Sir John Ray. Some fifty years ago at an auction at Standerton of the big "Bromfield" herd 60 Hereford cattle was sold to South West Africa. The Bull Larry Domino 20 from America was bought by Mr. R. le Riche for £3050. The most expensive cow was sold for £710.

Distribution of Herefords

Herefords have spread to many countries from Britain. The popularity of the breed grew rapidly, spreading throughout the United States and overflowing into Canada, Mexico, and all beef-raising countries of South America. The Hereford is found on all five continents of the world.

The flexibility of the Hereford to adapt to changes

Over the years, it was necessary for cattle breeders to make changes and adapt new breeding principles. Factors such as changes in consumer preferences towards lean beef, the development of the feedlot industry, and improvement in technology made the change from a compact, early maturing type to a leaner, faster growing type inevitable. Conformation and production goals of the Hereford were re-evaluated and selection was directed towards traits of economic importance, e.g. fertility, milk production, growth, and carcass quality.

Genetic variation

It is the variation of Hereford genetics and access to the largest gene pool in the world that allows the Hereford in Southern Africa to be adapted to different climatic conditions and suited for almost any production system in this country.

Why breed Herefords?


The Hereford is well adapted to intensive systems and feedlot production. The Hereford is also known to be an excellent forager under extensive grazing conditions, and is therefore referred to as "the breed that made grass famous."


Performance testing in South Africa is compulsory with the Herefords since January, 1982. By officially measuring important traits and being able to select from the largest gene pool in the world, the Hereford is able to make faster progress than most other breeds.

Feedlots pay premiums for Herefords because:
  1. of their tremendous efficient feed conversion ration (FCR)
  2. of their high growth rate (ADG and ADA)
  3. of a quicker turn around time
  4. of their tremendous temperament
How does the Hereford fit into crossbreeding programmes?

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Centre implemented a study to evaluate beef breeds of diverse types for the full spectrum of traits relating to total beef production. This data shows the following advantages for Hereford bulls:
  1. Shorter length of gestation (related to lighter birth weights) The gestation time for Hereford sired calves was 3-5 days shorter than calves by sires of other breeds.
  2. Lighter birth weights Birth weights are directly correlated to calving difficulty. Hereford calves were 3-5 kg lighter than those of other popular beef breeds.
  3. Less calving difficulty The Hereford sired calves were favoured by a calving difficulty of 17% less than other breeds.
  4. Higher calf crop percentage weaned In the Meat Animal Research Centre study a 97.3% calf crop weaned gave Hereford sired calves a total production advantage ranging from 5.6% to 10.8% over weaned calf crops sired by other popular beef breeds. The Hereford bull's fertility, sensible birth weights, much lower rate of calving difficulty, and fewer calf death losses all contributed to this advantage.
  5. More weight weaned per cow calving
    Hereford sired calves produced more weaning weight per cow calved to take a major advantage over the sire breeds in overall profitability. The weight advantage of Hereford sired calves ranged from 2.7 to 9.5 kg over the other crossbred calves.

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