Founder of the Hereford breed.
1714-1789 | Artist: Othmar J. Hoffler (1893-1954)
Impact & Accomplishments
Although Alvin Sanders, one of the founders of the Saddle & Sirloin Club and a historian of the Hereford breed, held Ben Tomkins in highest esteem and lobbied for his portrait to be added to the collection, it was not hung in the Club until sometime after 1920.
Benjamin Tomkins, born in Herefordshire, England, is credited with founding the Hereford breed with two cows, Pidgeon and Mottle, and a bull calf from the cow, Silver—animals Tomkins inherited from his father’s estate.
From 1742 to 1789, Ben Tomkins conducted systematic breeding practices, years before Robert Bakewell’s theories of animal breeding. His son, Ben Tomkins, Jr., continued his pioneering cattle improvement work.
Did You Know?
Hereford cattle can withstand the toughest of climates. Today, the breed can be found as far afield as the arctic snows of Finland, in the heat of Southern Africa and in sub-tropical South America. Over 5 million pedigree Hereford cattle are thriving in over 50 countries.
Pictured here is a cow named Silver, bred by George Tomkins, nephew of Benjamin the “Younger.” This female was born in 1806 and is believed to trace back to the original Silver cow that was started by Richard Tomkins. Known as the Mother of the Breed, the Silver line has been well-documented as cattle with red bodies, a white face and having more or less white along the back. The Tomkinses are credited as the first improvers and breeders of Hereford cattle and are regarded as being remarkable judges of stock. Courtesy of Hereford World, July 2019.