Cattle, hog, sheep numbers all decline: StatsCan

Inventories of major livestock on Canadian farms all declined between July 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010, Statistics Canada reports.

The Canadian cattle herd fell by 4.9 per cent to 14 million and has been in a steady decline since its peak of 16.9 million in 2005, the federal statistics agency said in releasing its July 1 livestock data Thursday.

During the same 12-month period, the hog inventory fell 2.4 per cent to 11.8 million, while the number of sheep on Canadian farms dropped 1.9 per cent to one million head.

Beef and dairy cattle

As of July 1, 2010 Canadian cattle producers estimated their herd at 14 million head, down 4.9 per cent from the same date in 2009. The national total cattle inventory has been in a steady decline since its peak of 16.9 million in 2005.

During this period, the Canadian dairy herd fell 1.3 per cent, while the total beef herd dropped 5.5 per cent. Indications are that the beef herd is not rebuilding as farmers reported a 5.1 per cent decline in the total number of beef cows and a 2.3 per cent drop in replacement heifers. The total number of dairy cows and replacement dairy heifers also declined compared to a year ago (-0.1 per cent and -1.6 per cent respectively).

Cattle and calf inventories continued a downward trend in all provinces and regions: British Columbia (down seven per cent), Alberta (-5.6 per cent), Manitoba (-5.6 per cent), Saskatchewan (-6.3 per cent), Ontario (-1.8 per cent), Quebec (-1.3 per cent) and the Atlantic region (-3.8 per cent).

From January to July 2010, an estimated 1.9 million head of Canadian cattle and calves were sent to slaughter. This was a 6.5 per cent increase from the same six months in 2009, but 0.3 per cent below levels reported for the period from July to December 2009. During the first six months of 2010, exports of live cattle and calves totalled 613,100 head, up 1.5 per cent from the same period in 2009. Exports of live cattle in the first six months of 2010 showed an increase of 5.3 per cent from the same six months in 2009, while calf exports fell 52.4 per cent.

A total of 99,026 farms reported beef or dairy cattle as of July 1, 2010 , down 3.5 per cent from the same date in 2009.

Hogs

At July 1, 2010, Canadian hog producers reported an estimated 11.8 million hogs on their farms, down from 12.1 million hogs on the same date in 2009. The year-over-year rate of decline in hog inventories have slowed in the first (-2.1 per cent) and second (-2.4 per cent) quarters this year, the lowest rates since April 2007.

Quebec and Manitoba reported total inventory increases from July 1, 2009 at 1.4 per cent and three per cent respectively. The increases are reflective of changes in hog slaughter and international exports and are not an indication that the industry is expanding. British Columbia (-19.6 per cent), Alberta (-2.3 per cent), Saskatchewan (-9.1 per cent), Ontario (-8.7 per cent) and the Atlantic region (-12 per cent) reported decreases in inventory.

Farmers reported 1.3 million sows and gilts on farms, down 4.8 per cent from July 1, 2009 and 9.4 per cent below levels as of July 1, 2008. The number of sows expected to farrow in Canada during the third and fourth quarters in 2010 has decreased 5.7 per cent and 5.5 per cent from the same periods in 2009.

Hogs that were sent to slaughter totalled 5.1 million during the second quarter of 2010, down 0.8 per cent from the same period in 2009. Canadian hog slaughter peaked in the fourth quarter of 2004 at just over 6.0 million head.

During the second quarter 2010, total hog exports amounted to 1.4 million head, down 14.1 per cent from the same quarter in 2009. Second-quarter exports were 52.3 per cent below the peak of 2.9 million head recorded in the first quarter of 2008.

As of July 1, 2010, there were 7,050 hog farms in Canada, down 10.6 per cent from the same date in 2009. The average number of hogs per operation increased from 1,529 to 1,671 in the same period.

Sheep

At July 1, 2010, the number of sheep on Canadian farms dropped 1.9 per cent to one million head from the same date in 2009. Regionally, inventory levels of sheep fell across the country between July 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010 except in Alberta (+2.3 per cent), the Atlantic region (+3.8 per cent) and Saskatchewan which was unchanged. The largest relative decline occurred in Manitoba, where the inventory dropped 11.3 per cent.

During the first six months of 2010, 325,900 sheep were sent to slaughter in Canada, down 4.5 per cent from the same period in 2009. Sheep imports reached 18,500 head in the period of January to July 2010, up 10.8 per cent from the same period in 2009. The export market for sheep has remained virtually non-existent since 2003.

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