Two Breeds or not Two Breeds….That is the Question
By Robin Hogberg

The most famous lines of literature from Shakespeare’s Hamlet “to be or not to be” kept rearing its ugly head in front of me this past month of July only it was inside the confines of our rebel roused Hereford breed.  If I were an entertainer I could have used the events as a running gag as on the Letterman Show or more seriously Will Shakespeare would have me do  a Soliloquy sharing my sadness with the audience as I have seen the breed I love so much and believe in continue in self-destruct mode with the endurance of the Energizer Bunny. 

There are some things in life I will never understand and this is one of them.  Why oh why must some people insist on keeping a wedge driven within our breed of “Hereford” cattle.  I love and appreciate all good cattle regardless of color and breed,  horned or polled.  I  can still remember like yesterday seeing L1 Pacesetter being led up and down the large barn at Nakota Genetics by Randy Graham.  He was the most amazing beast I had ever seen and to this day Pacesetter is still the most impressive bull I have ever seen of any breed.  He was a Hereford  bull the we used and with great success.  In my mind he wasn’t a Horned Hereford bull, he was a Hereford bull!

My fight to get the Polled and Horned to show together at the major livestock shows ended a number of years ago.  I have said many times following those meetings that I am not going to close someone else’s church,  they have to decide on their own when its time to make the change.  At this years SHA AGM there was strong opposition to the coming together in the show ring as one breed.  I witnessed  cattle breeders whom I have the utmost respect threaten to quit exhibiting cattle at these major livestock events if this “one breed one show” theory becomes a reality.  For the record, I abstained from the vote.

We were out at the World Angus Forum, and let me say what a beautiful venue Spruce Meadows is.  What is it like to show at Spruce Meadows?  Find yourself the most perfect golf fairway you know of and have a cow show.  That is what it was like to show at the World Angus Forum.  On Wednesday after the Red Angus show Michelle and I were visiting with Bill Lamport and Tom McNeely when a prominent Hereford breeder came along and asked “what are a bunch of Polled Hereford breeders doing at an Angus show?”  In most instances a harmless comment but with me being sensitive to the very issue I assuredly let them know that we don’t make the distinction  horned /polled  any more and that we all call ourselves Hereford breeders.  (followed by polite laughter)

This past week we were getting ready to sell some cows that should have been gone in mid April when the price hit .60.  I was convinced that these beasts were going to be worth at least .60 this summer and with  3 months of gain it would be a no brainer.  Wrong!!!  While loading my info on the CCIA site for age verification  I noticed that in the breed of cattle section there is a breed called Polled Hereford and a breed called Horned Hereford.  Wait a minute what is this, the CCIA considers us 2 different breeds?  I went back to check for other like situations.  There has to be Horned Charolais  and Polled Charolais.  Nope just Charolais.  I looked further down the list for Horned Simmental and Polled Simmental surly they wouldn’t miss that fact.  I can still remember 40 years ago seeing  Simmental bulls with horns coming over from Europe and their pictures in the semen catalogues.  No sirrrrrrrreeee Bob just Simmental.  By this time I ‘m thinking someone needs to make a call to the CCIA office to inform them of their error.  OK one last investigative check,  Red Angus and Black Angus in the breed section.  Negative…….just Angus. 

I was frozen in a state of zombieism, could this be true my fellow cattlemen, that all of us Polled Hereford breeders who have used Horned Hereford genetics over the years could we have committed the unthinkable in some people’s minds.   Have we mongrelized the entire genetic base?   No wonder there was such a fight in the USA to keep the Associations separate and the idea of showing cattle on the same day at a major livestock shows with alternating classes…..it took the shedding of blood to get that one done.  With all the little incremental steps  we were making, and I thought all in the name of progress, unity,  a family of breeders it took a $500.00 cull cow for me to realize that I had been wrong all these years.  We really are two breeds Horned Hereford and Polled Hereford and that my friends is the answer to the question.


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