Desirable Hereford Cow Traits
We measured our females' pelvic area for several years and selected for increased pelvic measurements. Since the Hereford Breed started reporting Maternal Calving Ease (MCE) scores, we have used these scores to select bulls that produce daughters with large pelvic and calving ease scores. We also pay special attention to how our heifers act when they calve. We want them to lie down and go to work and keep working until the calf is born. Cows with bred in calving ease will also have a smaller well shaped head, be feminine through the head, neck and shoulders and have moderate to lighter bone size.
As soon as a female calves we want her to demonstrate a good instinct to care for the calf by immediately getting up and begin licking her calf. She should also "lock up" and stand still when the calf wants to nurse. Females that are slow to get up, do a poor job of licking the calf or would rather go eat are eliminated from our herd.
The Hereford Breed does not produce enough milk. Adding more milk is a point of emphasis in our program. The inheritability of milk is quite low (30% or less) so it takes several generations to make consistent change. We have not had to worry about too much milk at this point in time. A good tight udder with teats small enough to be easily nursed is also a point of emphasis. Teats and udders are scored with the results turned into the Hereford Association.
We continuously research the Hereford Breed for top sires which have the qualities we most desire in our females and order semen from around the United States. We "hit the road" to see sires, their females and calves throughout the year. At the same time we closely follow registered Hereford Sales across several states looking for females that will contribute the characteristics we value and are needed to improve our herd.
Cows that are easy fleshing and breed back quickly each year are important to the profit picture. Our herd calving interval is 367 days with 90% or better of the cows bred A.I. each year. Eye pigment is important in reducing the amount of pink eye and cancer eye in Herefords. Again, it has low heritability so selection is a slow process. We are always looking for additional pigment in our bulls and cows. We are also very aggressive in dealing with vaginal prolapse in our herd. We eliminate all cows and their daughters if they show any sign of weak vaginal ligaments.