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Hereford cattle 1940-1949

Herefordshire took some time to adjust to the effects of the total war situation brought about by World War II. A county traditionally devoted to flocks and herds found it hard to comprehend that the nation's food supply was threatened and the orders to plough up fields, which had lain untouched for centuries, were not well received. Eventually the county was covered with wheat and barley.

For the pedigree breeders, the smaller acreage of grassland meant the necessity of weeding out all the second-rate breeding stock. All showing of livestock, local and national, was discontinued. The demand for meat was greater than ever; the Hereford - as the supreme converter of grass to beef - met an unprecedented demand from all over the country as the best crossing bull to produce beef steers from dairy cows.

The three Spring Sales and Shows of 1940 were the first held by the Hereford Herd Book Society since the outbreak of war and trade was quiet. There was a considerable, though temporary, rise in the export figures with 175 out of the 230 certificates issued going to Russia. The following year the number of export certificates fell to only 23, all to Argentina. In 1943 they had dropped further to only six, all to Uruguay or Argentina.

The severe winter of 1945 meant an absence of bulls at the first Spring Show and Sale, and the 50 bulls sold reached an average of £258 8s.

In 1949 the first Show and Sale of Attested Beef Cattle in Scotland was held at Edinburgh. The average prices were as follows:

  • Herefords - £105.0.0
  • Shorthorns - £79.16.0
  • Galloways - £27.16.6.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2005]