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Hereford cattle 1930-1939

These years saw the deepening trade depression, which culminated in the financial disasters of 1931 and ended with the outbreak of World War II.

In 1930 the Hereford Herd Book Society discontinued the publication of the annual Hereford Breed Journal, which had first appeared in 1923. In 1936 a streamlined version was published.

At the Hereford Spring Shows and Sales an average price of £50 was reached, and 250 exportation certificates were issued.

The collapse of the share markets in New York and London came in 1931, and with it the start of the Depression. At the Hereford Spring Shows and Sales the average price was as low as £36. The number of export certificates also fell, although the varied destinations of Italy, Morocco and Transvaal offered hopes of new markets.

The collapse of the export trade and the invasion of chilled and frozen beef from abroad forced many of the breeders to put their herds on the market.

The export trade was given a boost in 1932 by purchases on a large scale by the Russian government, with no fewer than 390 out of 420 export certificates going to the Soviet Union.

In 1933 currency restrictions depressed the export market and only 32 certificates were issued - 23 to South America, seven to Australia and two to South Africa. The following year an unusually severe drought added to the problems already faced by the Hereford breeders.

In 1938 a deterioration in mainland Europe led to an upward trend for all livestock. The average price for a Hereford was £52 5s 0d. Exports also improved, with the majority going to Argentina and the remainder to Australia, Southern Rhodesia and British Guyana.

World War II put pressure on farmers to produce arable crops as a priority, and so only the second-rate pasture was available to cattle. This led to the slaughter of many cattle, but the Hereford with its superb ability to exist and thrive on grass alone was much in demand.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2005]