Just the Tip of the Iceberg for the Future of the Hereford Breed

Click here to listen to Ron Hays talk with Jack Ward about the progression of the Hereford breed.

Jack Ward, the Executive Vice President of the American Hereford Association, has been with the AHA for 20 years. For half of those years with AHA, he has been serving in his current role as Executive Vice President. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to talk with Ward about how the Hereford breed has changed over the last two decades that Ward has been part of the AHA staff.

“When I started at Hereford, just getting data submitted and registering cattle was done mostly by paper,” Ward said.

Ward said in 2022, around 86 percent of registrations were completed online. Moving forward, one of the most important factors in the AHA’s strategic plan, Ward said, is focusing on where Hereford fits into building back the cow herd in the next few years after drought implications.

“We have done so much research over the last 20 to 25 years in the area of heterosis and the value of using that Hereford bull on an alternate breed cow, whether it be a brahman influence cow in the gulf coast or obviously a red or black Angus,” Ward said.

The American Hereford Association is working in the area of sustainable genetics, Ward said, in a cooperative research agreement with Colorado State University. In this project, decades of AHA research and data collected by AHA members that characterizes genetics associated with production efficiency will be utilized to highlight economic sustainability.

“It is about an economic effect and where can we help these companies downstream in the various scopes that they have to produce information in what they are doing in the area of sustainability,” Ward said.

The future of the Hereford breed is bright, Ward said, as the breed remains efficient, fertile, easy to keep, and fits into many different environments around the country.

“Their effect on alternate breeds and a crossbreeding program is second to none,” Ward said. “

In a fast-moving industry, Ward said the Hereford breed is at the tip of the iceberg.

Ward also talked about the evolution of the Hereford breed through breeding programs such as embryo transfer.

“There was always the mindset that full brothers or sisters that came out of ET (Embryo Transfer) programs were literally the same animal, and as we know, they are not,” Ward said. “Every time you make a mating, it is a random sampling of genetics on both sides, so for us to be able to have some ability and get in there and see and document the differences through a genotype and add that to genetic evaluation for us to make genetic progress is amazing.”

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