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Cattle numbers down, as expected

Statistics Canada – Canadian farmers reported 12.2 million cattle on their farms as of January 1, down 0.7 per cent from January 1, 2013. Hog producers reported 12.7 million hogs, a 1.1 per cent increase over January 1, 2013, while the number of sheep fell 1.0 per cent to 893,000 head.

Overall, cattle prices rose and feed costs declined in the second half of 2013. However, this did not translate into farmers increasing their herd. The 0.7 per cent decline reported on January 1 offset the modest gains observed on the same date in each of the previous two years. Cattle inventories have been stable recently following several years of steady decline. The cattle herd at January 1 sat 18.2 per cent below its peak level seen on January 1, 2005.

The year-over-year decline in cattle inventories was attributable to a decrease in the number of beef cows and calves, while total slaughter and exports grew during the second half of 2013. The number of beef cows on Canadian farms fell 0.8 per cent to just over 3.9 million head, continuing the downward trend that began in January 2006. The number of calves fell 1.0 per cent to 3.9 million head.

The number of beef heifers held for breeding edged up 0.1 per cent from January 2013 to 542,300 head, following three consecutive year-over-year increases. Canadian farmers had 1.4 million dairy cows and heifers on their farms, down 0.5 per cent from January 1, 2013.

As of January 1, 82,665 farms reported cattle and calves, down 1.5 per cent from January 1, 2013, and down 2.8 per cent from the same date in 2012.

From the Manitoba Co-operator website: Slaughter volumes down as Canadian herd numbers dwindle

Cattle and calf slaughter declined 2.2 per cent to 3.0 million head in 2013, with slaughter numbers down in Eastern Canada and up slightly in the West.

Cattle and calf exports increased for the second consecutive year, up 28.0 per cent from 2012 to 1,047,700 head in 2013. However, exports were 37.9 per cent below the peak level of 2002.

Despite a 1.1 per cent increase in the number of hogs, the number of farms reporting hogs declined. As of January 1, 2014, there were 7,090 hog farms in Canada, down 0.5 per cent from the same date a year earlier. Farmers reported 1.2 million sows and gilts, up 0.3 per cent from January 1, 2013.

Canada exported 5.0 million hogs in 2013, down 12.4 per cent from 2012 and 50.4 per cent less than the peak in 2007. Domestic hog slaughter also declined in 2013, down 1.7 per cent from 2012 to just under 21.0 million head.

Sheep inventories fell 1.0 per cent from January 1, 2013, to 893,000, as farmers reduced their herds. The breeding herd fell as the number of ewes declined 0.9 per cent and replacement lambs fell 2.1 per cent. The number of market lambs decreased 0.6 per cent from January 1, 2013.

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