The American Hereford has been around for almost 300 years. The breed came about in England in response to the Industrial Revolution. The farmers that lived in Herefordshire bred this breed of cattle to have sound reproduction, quality production, and high produce. Nobody knows exactly how this breed came about but there are some theories. One of the theories is that red animals from Yorkshire crossed with wild cattle and white-faced animals from Holland. No one will ever truly know how these animals came about, but it is fun to speculate. The distinguishing characteristics of the Hereford cow is there red coloration and white features, which include face, crest, dewlap, and underline.
Henry Clay was the first to introduce the Herefords to America when he brought them over in 1817 when he traveled to his farm in Kentucky with a cow, a bull, and a heifer. However, after years of breeding with shorthorn cattle to avoid interbreeding, the herd began to lose its Hereford characteristics. William H. Sotham was imported 22 Hereford cows to New York to create the first breeding herd in America.
Some of the first Herefords to arrive in Texas were brought by the E.F. brothers and William S. Ikard who were from Henrietta, Texas. After purchasing ten animals from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, they shipped them by train to Denison, and trailed them from Denison to Henrietta. In the midst of the travel, all but one animal died. The Ikard brothers decided to purchase more cattle, even some from the herd of Queen Victoria. In 1876, J.F. Brady, who lived in Houston, bought a bull out of Beecher, Illinois.
Herefords were introduced to West Texas when Charles Goodnight brought Herefords to his ranch after his attempt to breed Durham cattle, also known as shorthorn cattle, failed because they were not suited for the environment. He placed twenty registered bulls in the on the JA Ranch in the Panhandle in 1883. In 1884, he imported forty bulls straight from Herefordshire and encouraged other ranchers to experiment in cross breeding. From 1882 to 1888, there were several thousand Hereford bulls trailed from Dodge City to the Panhandle. Christopher Columbus Slaughter stocked his herd with purebred Herefords. On the King Ranch, Robert J. Kleberg experimented with Hereford bulls in about 1900. The experiments helped eliminate the Texas fever.
Warren Gammon and a small group of breeders developed the polled, or hornless, Hereford. They started with about thirteen mutated hornless Herefords and went from there. They then formed the American Polled Hereford Association. In the 1990s there were only about 150 American Hereford breeders in Texas.
Over the course of the last thirty years miniature Herefords have grown in popularity. Miniature Herefords came about by selectively breeding smaller cows to create the minis. This was all started by the Largent family in 1974. Their ranch is located in the Davis Mountains in Texas.