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Cattle, hog inventories hit fresh lows: StatsCan

Farm inventories of cattle as of Jan. 1, 2010 reached their lowest level in 15 years, while inventories of hogs were at a 12-year low, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Canadian cattle producers reported 13 million head at Jan. 1, 2010, down 1.3 per cent from January 2009, the federal statistics agency reported. Hog producers had an estimated 11.6 million hogs on their farms, down 4.5 per cent.

The number of sheep on Canadian farms also declined between Jan. 1, 2009 and Jan. 1, 2010. The total sheep inventory fell 0.2 per cent to 806,600 head. The slaughter of sheep in Canada remained unchanged from levels the same date a year ago.

Cattle

As of Jan. 1, 2010, 99,265 farms reported beef or dairy cattle on their operations. This was the first time since data has been collected that the number of cattle farms has fallen below 100,000. The Canadian dairy herd fell 0.2 per cent during 2009, while the total beef herd fell 1.4 per cent.

Cattle and calves slaughter levels in Canada in 2009 were down 3.7 per cent from the previous year. At the same time, Canadian exports of live cattle and calves fell 31.6 per cent. It was the first full year that mandatory U.S. country-of-origin labelling (COOL) regulations had been implemented.

Since 2007, increased demand for ethanol has caused a surge in feed grain prices, affecting feed costs for livestock producers. The appreciation of the Canadian dollar as well as the introduction of COOL reduced the competitiveness of the Canadian export market. The combination of these events over the last decade has affected profit margins in the cattle industry.

Hogs

The number of hog farms in Canada continued to decline in 2009, falling to 7,360. At the same time, the average number of hogs per operation increased from 1,482 to 1,580 at Jan. 1, 2010.

Since January 2009, there has been a 4.3 per cent decrease in the breeding herd, mainly sows and gilts. The inventory of sows, estimated at 1.3 million head, is at a level not seen since 2000.

Slaughter levels in Canada have been increasing since 2007, but are still below the peak of 22.9 million head reached in 2004. In 2009, slaughter reached 21.8 million head.

During 2009, total hog exports amounted to 6.4 million head, down 31.9 per cent from 2008. This was well below the peak of 10 million head in 2007. The decline in 2009 may be in part reflected by structural changes in Canadian hog production, as well as the implementation of COOL.

Sheep

The number of sheep on Canadian farms declined between Jan. 1, 2009 and Jan. 1, 2010. The total sheep inventory fell 0.2 per cent to 806,600 head. The slaughter of sheep in Canada remained unchanged from levels the same date a year ago.

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