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The Hereford is one of the UK's oldest native beef breeds, originating in the county of Herefordshire in the mid 1700s, later spreading to most parts of the UK and the rest of the world. Over the centuries the breed has evolved through various initiatives implemented by its Society, underpinned by an extensive knowledge of the breed and supreme stockmanship.

The Hereford Cattle Society was founded under the patronage of Queen Victoria in 1878. The Herd Book was opened in 1846 and since 1886 has been closed to any animal whose sire and dam had not previously been recorded, so for over 120 years, the purity of the breed has remained intact.

More than five million pedigree Herefords now exist in over 50 countries. The Hereford export trade began in 1817 spreading across the United States and Canada through Mexico to the great beef-raising countries of South America. Today, Herefords dominate the world scene from Australasia to the Russian steppes. Herefords can be found in Israel, Japan and throughout continental Europe and Scandinavia.

Due to the growth of the breed overseas and the formation of Hereford cattle societies in many countries, a World Hereford Council was set up in 1951 to deal with matters of mutual interest to pedigree Hereford breeders globally.