Breed Improvement Scheme / Semen

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BIS Semen Price and Order form 2023

The characteristics of the modern Hereford were implanted by a group of breeders in Herefordshire more than 200 years ago. Their objective was to fix in one strain of animal the desirable traits of hardiness, early maturity, fertility and the swift, efficient conversion of grass into red meat so firmly that the transmission of these qualities to the next generation could always be relied upon. Their success was spectacular and the Hereford became the cornerstone of the beef economy in all the cattle raising countries in the world.First introduced into Ireland in 1775, the Hereford was recognised as an animal with the temperament, quality and performance to suit both Irish farming conditions and tastes. The breed has had a major influence on Irish cattle production since its introduction.Herefords are valued for their excellent meat, early maturity and easy calving ability.  New opportunities now exist for the breed in the era of sustainable farming where ease of management in close harmony with the environment is a major consideration.

Key characteristics:

  1. Excellent meat quality
  2. Early maturity and high performance on forage based diets
  3. Adaptability – Herefords thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions
  4. Excellent temperament
  5. Easy calving ability
  6. Good fertility
  7. Longevity

Main reasons to choose Irish Hereford 

Physical Characteristics

Irish Herefords generally have a deep rich red body with a white face, crest, underside, socks and brush to tail.  The cattle are hardy, adaptable and suitable for intensive or extensive farming systems.  Hereford are also known for their high libido, early puberty, fertility, ease of calving and excellent mothering abilities.  They are very suitable for crossing with dairy and beef suckler dams. Increasingly Irish Hereford bulls are used as terminal sires on continental cross cows in commercial beef herds to provide earlier maturity and improve beef eating quality. Beef farmers rate the Hereford cross dam high for its qualities of hardiness, docility, milking ability and ease of management. The Irish Hereford’s ability to colour mark its offspring with the distinctive white head is much valued by breeders.


The basic principle governing cattle production is that a breed must be fit to survive and thrive in the environment in which it is raised, on a cost-effective basis. The breed must have a reasonable balance between productive traits and carcass excellence, always remembering that without the first the second is irrelevant. The Hereford breed, the worlds most numerous beef breed has singularly met these important economic criteria. Put another way – a breed to succeed to-day must possess one or more unique traits that are needed by the commercial beef industry together with the other characteristics required such as: fertility, calving ease, calf survival rate, milking ability, hardiness, longevity, rustling ability, fast rate of liveweight gain, good feed conversion, conformation and carcass quality.


The Hereford female has established herself as a superior mother cow with the capacity to meet producers demands for productivity and efficiency. Fertility and reproduction affects the profit potential of a cowherd more than any other trait. It is five times more important than the growth traits and ten times as important as carcass traits. Hereford popularity and widespread usage has come about because the females have the ability to wean a calf every year, rebreed quickly and do it adapting to the available feed supply. Results show Herefords to be significantly superior in weaning more total kilos of calf. The biggest difference recorded was in the area of pregnancy rate where the straight Hereford group has a 97 percent pregnancy compared to only an 82 percent rate for the cows bred to exotic bulls. A majority of Hereford females reach puberty by the time they are 14 months of age. This means that they have a proper growth and development of their reproductive system to calve as two-year-olds. Therefore, they are able to keep a short calving season when added to the mature cowherd. The modern Hereford sire is well muscled with good size and volume with strong feet and legs and is built to withstand the rigours of tough breeding seasons. A bull’s task during mating is to get cows in calf. The bull must serve each cow in heat. The number of services a bull achieves in a mating period is a good measure of a bull’s libido and is related to his ability to settle cows. In this field the Hereford bull excels.

Feed Efficiency

Figures produced by Ireland’s Research and Advisory Service Teagasc at Grange, Co, Meath in relation to the production of two-year- old beef show that to finish 50 head of continental crosses steers to their recommended carcass weight of 380Kgs. would require 550 tons of silage and 50 tons of concentrate. These same Teagasc figures also show that a similar amount of feed will finish 78 Hereford cross steers to their recommended carcass weight of 290Kgs. Thirteen weeks sooner allowing a surplus of 11 tons of concentrate unused. Add to this the reduction in capital investment in housing, finance and bank interest for an additional 13 weeks and it is clear why Herefords are the clear choice. In addition due to its eating quality and eligibility for Hereford Prime the Hereford beef will make a premium price and will most likely be sold to a premium retail outlet here at home or in continental Europe. It is equally likely to sell to a high-class restaurant through its countrywide distributors in Ireland or again through its distributors in mainland Europe. Teagasc also inform us that average stocking rate per animal sold per year for the spring system are 1 acre for Hereford crosses, 1.2 acres for continental crosses.

Certified Hereford Schemes & Markets

Hereford farmers can take advantage of premium prices from a number of premium Hereford Beef Schemes strategically placed across the country delivering a bonus price to producers. The schemes operate to the highest standards and are Bord Bia Quality assured.

Finally – 10 good reasons to choose Irish Hereford

  1. More profitable – lower costs and premium prices
  2. Higher Fertility – calving at 2 years of age, high conception
  3. Shorter Gestation – saves time and money
  4. Easier Calving – lower mortality rate
  5. Safer – docile temperament
  6. Hardier – thrive in any environmental condition
  7. Easier and Earlier Finishing – flesh quickly, maintain condition
  8. Less Concentrates – let the grass work for you
  9. Less Labour – essential for one man unit
  10. Ideal Carcass Weight – fits today’s markets requirements.

For Performance, Premiums & Profit

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