The Hereford is a fast growing, fertile beef breed of distinctive colour and markings. 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 which are regularly up-dated.
The Hereford seeks its excellence in total functional efficiency. Conformation in the breed is important in the sense that certain anatomical features are directly related to functional efficiency and economically viable traits. Amongst these traits the traditional colour and markings and the general conformation of the breed present the Hereford as a unique producer of beef and an excellent selling product.
Functional efficiency of the Hereford is attained by the following priorities which are presented in order of importance together with the corresponding requirements and conformational features:
1.1 The colour of the Hereford is a special and distinctive feature. The coat is bright to dark red with a white head, brisket, underline, crest and switch and legs below the knees and hocks. Pigmentation around the eyes is very strongly favoured while albinism of the eyes and muzzle is undesirable.
1.2 The forehead of the Hereford is wide and symmetrical with the nostrils big and clean. The eyes are alert but not prominent and set well apart under a strong brow.
The horns are oval and bend slightly down with a waxy texture and of greyish appearance but never dull white.
Poll animals should have a prominent poll.
1.3 In males the shoulders and neck are heavy and muscular and wide between the scapulae (shoulder blades) with wide and deep front quarters and ample width in the sternum (brisket) region.
1.4 In cows the abdominal capacity is large and the croup is wide and broad between the thurls with the pins slightly lower than the hips for easy calving.
1.5 The Hereford is not a sloping rump type and the tail setting which is free from fatty humps hangs straight between the hocks. In cows the tail switch is fine and silky but with coarse well developed hair in bulls.
1.6 All known heritable defects in the Hereford are listed and rigidly avoided. Included are dwarfism, short cannon bones and all degrees of compactness of the head together with defects like wry face, wry tail, over or undershot jaws, hernias, prolapses, defects of the genitalia etc., and particularly defects of the legs and hips.
In cows prolapse of the genitalia, horizontal or underdeveloped vulva and functional disturbances are serious defects. Udders are well developed and symmetrical and teats of normal size and shape.
To improve fertility and growth ability Hereford cattle are required to be fit and functionally efficient. This entails the ability to walk comfortably and with rhythm and ease even over long distances. Sound legs and feet and a strong back are highly desirable for these purposes.
Splayed hoofs, corns, straight hocks, cow hocks, sickle hocks, weak pasterns or fetlocks, swollen joints or any deviation of front or hind legs during standing or during walking are undesirable. Front and hind legs are to be parallel and correctly placed when viewed respectively from the front or the back.
The Hereford is an early maturing breed in which cognizance is duly taken of consumer demand for carcasses of low fat content. High cutability is required and consequently signs of wastiness are undesirable. These include full flanks, a heavy brisket and a fatty tail setting.
The state at which carcass maturity is reached is consequently somewhat delayed to a higher age. This also brings about that adult size of the Hereford is somewhat increased. These adaptive changes are accepted in the Hereford as desirable. However, they are not to be pursued as primary objectives and particularly not at the cost of higher priorities of fertility, growth ability and general functional efficiency.
Good muscling and particularly muscular definition in bulls are highly desirable features of the Hereford. Reference points for muscling are well developed forearms and outer thighs below the patella (Stifle joint).
Hereford females are not heavily muscled because it is known that well muscled and heavy females are rarely regular breeders. The thurls and brisket region are wide and hind and front legs are straight.
5.1 Heifers are required to calve early according to the respective environments where herds are kept. They are also expected to conceive during a shorter breeding season than adult cows so that heifers of low fertility can be identified.
5.2 A Heifer must calve before or at the age of 39 months (1187) days for the first time.
5.3 All cases of dystocia (difficult birth) are to be recorded against the animals concerned.
5.4 Optimal birth weights to avoid dystocia are to be identified for the Hereford breed and are not to be exceeded in stud bulls.
5.5 Mature Hereford cows are expected to calve annually, without assistance and to produce and rear strong and healthy calves.5.6 The minimum number of calves a cow must produce by a certain age is noted in the table below
|Age of dam||Min. No. Calves||Max. Average ICP (Days)|
|3 years 3 months||1|
|5 years 3 months||2||790|
|6 years 3 months||3||578|
|8 years 3 months||4||628|
|9 years 3 months||5||563|
|11 years 3 months||6||596|
|12 years 3 months||7||558|
|14 years 3 months||8||582|
|15 years 3 months||9||555|
|17 years 3 months||10||575|
5.7 A cow must rear at least two of any three consecutive calves up to weaning. (For this purpose, a weaning weight recorded on Intergis will serve as proof that a calf was reared up to weaning).
5.8 Any calving interval may not exceed 26 months (790 days).
5.9 A cow may wean not more than two calves with a weaning index below 90. Once a cow has weaned three (3) calves with an index below 90 she will be culled.
6.1 The gestation period shall be 283 days. The minimum acceptable gestation period shall be 262 days, and the maximum period shall be 304 days.
6.2 The minimum period between the dates of birth of two successive calves out of one cow (intercalving period) shall be 266 days.
6.3 Any gestation or intercalving periods outside these ranges shall not be recognised unless the parentage of the calf concerned is confirmed by a DNA profile.
6.4 Calving interval may not exceed 26 months (790) days maximum.
The minimum indexes for heifers are :
The scrotum circumference of Phase B bulls is not officially measured. The inspector may measure the scrotum circumference and use the standards below as guidelines. (A breeder may measure bulls' scrotums at 18 months of age and submit measurements together with 18 month old weights)
|Body weight||Minimum scrotum circumference|
|300 to 349 kg||29cm|
|350 to 399 kg||30cm|
|400 to 449 kg||31cm|
|450 to 499 kg||32cm|
|500 to 549 kg||33cm|
|550 kg and over||34cm|
Bulls tested in Phases C1, C2, C3, D1, D2 and D3 :
Bodyweight-corrected (to standard of 425 kg body weight) scrotum circumference of 305mm.