Black Hereford

The docile Black Hereford is becoming increasingly popular with Tennessee cattle farmers.

There’s a new bull on the block. And no, he’s not “just a baldie.”

The white-faced Black Hereford cattle breed is relatively new to the cattle industry but has quickly gained a cult following. And the breed has found an advocate in local cattle farmer Rick Snyder of Snyder and Son Farms.

Farmers and ranchers across the state of Tennessee–and across the country–are making the switch from Angus to Black Hereford due to the breed’s desirable characteristics and the marketing tactics of the beef industry.

Snyder prefers Black Herefords for their meek temperament. “Herefords are much more docile than Angus. There’s not even a comparison between the docility of Herefords and Angus.”

But the motivation to raise Black Herefords is about more than disposition and hybrid vigor. Marketing trends by certain corporations have rendered cattle with black hides more desirable than other breeds.

“Red animals are discounted at the market because of the marketing of Angus beef,” Snyder says. “By raising Black Herefords, I’m trying to capitalize on the better market value of a black animal while keeping the good traits of the Hereford.”

The breed was first developed in 1997 by crossing Angus with Herefords. The resulting animals kept the black hide of the Angus but gained the good temperament of the Herefords.

According to the American Black Hereford Association, there are over 500 registered Black Hereford breeders across 39 states. In Johnson County, there’s only one.

Snyder acquired his first Black Hereford bull in 2017 and has been transitioning his herd ever since. Now, Snyder has 28 registered Black Hereford cattle.

One of the founding members of the Tennessee Black Hereford Association, Snyder, is working with TBHA to educate more folks about Black Herefords, promote the breed, and connect interested cattle farmers with the resources they need to grow their own herds. The TBHA organized its first local sale in 2021, with plans to facilitate another sale in the spring of 2023.

According to a directory on the TBHA website, most Black Hereford breeders are based in Central Tennessee, with just a few participating Northeastern counties, like Hancock, Sullivan, and of course, Johnson County. But the TBHA expects the number of Black Hereford breeders in the state to grow, dubbing Black Herefords the “Breed of the Future.”

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