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