Origin of Breed
In the late 1990s, Black Herefords originated from red Hereford cattle crossed with Black Angus cattle. The result was black cattle with a white head and finching, often called “black-baldies.” If a registered Black Hereford is crossed with a registered red Hereford and the resulting progeny is black, then it may be registered with the Black Hereford Association. Black Herefords were designed to create cattle that would pass on the desirable traits of the red Hereford, but with only black and white coloring. Like red Herefords, Black Herefords are often crossed with Black Angus cattle in the progeny, which are desirable for many commercial cattlemen. The Black Herefords tend to bring more at market compared to “red-baldies,” which is ideal for any producer. Red Herefords and red-baldie calves will generally sell discounted by 5 to 15 cents per pound.
Black Herefords are similar to red Herefords in appearance and characteristics. Their biggest difference, implied by their name, is the black coat instead of the red coat. They have white finching on their face, crest, dewlap, and underline. Black Herefords with white flanks and white markings below the knees and hocks are also common. They are naturally polled through their genetics. Herefords are muscular, moderate to long in length of side, adequate in length of leg, large in size, trim and smooth. Mature males may weigh up to 1,800 pounds, while mature females may weigh around 1,200.
Black Herefords are similar to red Herefords in their docility and feed efficiency. Their foraging ability and feed conversion rate makes them easy keeping, which producers desire. Black Herefords mature at early ages, which allows for more offspring and herd growth in the long run. They are fast growing animals that can withstand all types of environments. Black Herefords excel in fertility, calving ease, calf survival rate, milking ability, hardiness, longevity, conformation and carcass quality.
Development in America
Black Herefords originated in the U.S. with the increased need for durable, productive cattle in the commercial cattle industry. The first cattle to qualify for registration were recorded in 1997.
Registry and Improvement Programs
John Gage founded the American Black Hereford Association, which was established as a non-profit corporation in 1994. In 2000, the association installed customized breed software that tracks herd and breed-wide performance data as well as carcass information. It can generate purebred and composite pedigrees and can project EPDs and record EPD values. In 2003, Black Herefords received international breed designation by the National Association of Animal Breeders. In 2005, the breed developed its own EPD's.
The American Black Hereford Association is headquartered in Kansas City, MO.