Hereford cattle take their name from the Marches' County of Herefordshire. The origins of the breed are slightly obscure until the work of Benjamin Tompkins Senior and Junior in the mid to late eighteenth century. After the expansion of the breeders in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century it became necessary to publish the first Herd Book in 1846 and leading to formation of the Hereford Herd Book Society in 1878. The subsequent closure of the Herd Book to entries other than those descended from members of the Herd Book in 1878, was brought about in 1886.

The breed survived and expanded through the nineteenth and early twentieth century, despite the major agricultural depressions of those periods. The white faced cattle of the Welsh Marches became the pre-eminent beef cattle of the world.


In the period after the Second World War the native Hereford cattle had unprecedented demand that saw some of its most successful breeders rewarded with prices for bulls not seen before or since. However, the future did not prove to be as rosy as it looked.

Methods of production were changing. With the advent of the scientist in animal production, the emphasis moved to high input and output agriculture, with its high cost systems. This change involved the extensive use of cereal based diets to produce beef intensively. This form of production does not suit the Traditional Hereford and a new emphasis was placed by some breeder on a larger framed, later maturing animal. These were successfully developed in countries such as Canada and the USA, and quickly displaced the earlier maturing traditional type of Hereford.

Today in Britain the breed is in three fairly distinct categories. These are, the Polled cattle, the Horned cattle that have been bred to outside influences, mostly from Canada, and those cattle that are descended entirely from animals registered in the 1878 Herd Book, and are native to Great Britain and Ireland. The club was started in 1996 and is the home for those who continue to support the last of these categories.

The Traditional Hereford, is a medium sized animal. The cows vary from 450 kg to 650 kg. They are early maturing, a very efficient converter of forage and low quality fodder into a deeply fleshed, high quality beef animal. It thrives on relatively poor conditions compared to some modern beef breeds. It may have other hidden benefits in terms of nutritional value within the beef produced, (T Slanker, 2002)


The Traditional Hereford is a long lived, high fecundity and easily managed breed of cattle, giving relatively high returns on the inputs required. It has been thus for over one hundred and fifty years. In today's climate of agricultural depression, with the emphasis back to those of factors that influenced our forefathers, these animals are becoming popular once more.

The future of this Native breed of cattle looks more optimistic than it has since the 1960's. Beef from the cattle being in demand through the Traditional Meat Marketing Company, breeding cattle numbers are in an expansionary phase, and the club is growing steadily year on year.