Key Characteristics

Traditional Hereford cows are long lived, fertile and maternal. They make great suckler cows and can produce calves at up to 14 years old. The breed is very docile and easily managed. They are also hardy and suited to outwintering. 

  • The Traditional Hereford is much shorter legged than the modern Hereford.
  • The breed is medium sized, with cows usually weighing 450-550kg and bulls 750-850kg.
  • The breed is red in colouring with white stripes along the back and underside of the belly.
  • The breed’s defining feature is the famous white face.
  • Animals are usually horned although the horns are often removed


  • RBST recognises the original or non-imported bloodlines of Hereford cattle.
  • The Hereford was developed in its native county by farmers who expected a beast to work the fields for 5 to 6 years before being sold for fattening.
  • The first Herd Book was published in 1846 and the Breed Society was established in 1878.
  • The Hereford was widely exported during the twentieth century and there are large populations of the breed abroad particularly in the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
  • As with the Angus the animals developed abroad were very different to the native stock and many of these Herefords were imported in the UK to make the breed more able to compete against the continental beef breeds.
  • The imported Herefords became so popular that the native bloodlines became endangered.


The breed is known as being excellent for converting grass into top quality meat and will even do well on poor quality pasture. Grades O+/R 3/4L at 24-30 months on an entirely forage based system. Premiums are available through dedicated markets for Hereford beef - eg. Dovecote Park.

The breed preferentially grazes coarse vegetation and browses a range of trees and shrubs. Docile and easy to handle, yet adventurous, adaptable and surefooted, the Hereford is already widely used in conservation grazing.

One of the main uses of the Hereford before the breed’s numbers declined was as the sire of suckler cows out of the dairy herd. These days Hereford x cows are in great demand for their docility and longevity.

Did you know?

Herefords are known for their white faces. Traditional Hereford bulls will mark any crossbred offspring with the white face. This can be a very useful characteristic, allowing farmers to identify calves. 

Breed Societies

For more information visit the Hereford Cattle Society or Traditional Hereford Breeders Club