Cattle herd still shrinking in StatsCan estimates

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

The size of Canada’s cattle herd is still in decline and almost a quarter smaller than its peak in 2005, Statistics Canada reports.

The federal statistics agency on Thursday released estimates showing the herd at 13 million cattle on farms on July 1 this year, down 2.1 per cent from the same date in 2014.

Total cattle inventories at July 1 showed their greatest declines in Saskatchewan and Alberta, down three per cent at 2.715 million and down 2.8 per cent at 5.3 million respectively, compared to July 1, 2014.

Except for steers, up four per cent at 65,400 head, overall cattle inventories declined compared to July 1 last year, with the number of beef cows on Canadian farms down 3.4 per cent at 3.8 million head, and beef heifers held for breeding down 0.6 per cent at 612,600 head, StatsCan said.

Canada’s farmers had 1.4 million dairy cows and heifers on their farms, down 2.2 per cent. Overall, the number of Canadian farms reporting inventories of cattle and calves sat at 82,050, down 0.6 per cent.

Both slaughter and exports fell during the first half of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, StatsCan said. “While cattle prices remain strong so far in 2015, limited cattle supplies mean that there are fewer animals available to market.”

January-to-June cattle slaughter decreased 13.5 per cent, to 1.4 million head, compared with the first six months of 2014, while exports fell 21.4 per cent, to 491,500 head.

Canada’s total inventory of cattle and calves on July 1 was 23 per cent below its peak level recorded in 2005, StatsCan noted.

Hogs, sheep

StatsCan’s estimate of Canada’s total hog inventories at July 1 sat at 13.225 million head, up 1.1 per cent from July 1 last year. Percentage-wise, the largest increases in inventory were seen in Saskatchewan and Ontario, up 2.2 per cent at 1.175 million and up 1.6 per cent at 3.092 million respectively.

Hog farms reported a January-to-June 2015 pig crop of 14.1 million head, up 4.5 per cent from the year-earlier period.

StatsCan, as of July 1, estimated 6,995 hog farms in Canada, down 0.4 per cent from the same date last year, with a total of 1.2 million sows and gilts, up 0.8 per cent.

Canada exported 2.8 million hogs in the first half of 2015, up 17.8 per cent from the same period in 2014, StatsCan said.

Noting “strong demand” for hogs in the U.S., StatsCan reported hog slaughter seven per cent higher in the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. The most recent U.S. data show hog inventories increased nine per cent from June 1, 2014, StatsCan said.

Hog slaughter also increased in Canada in the first six months of 2015, up 2.9 per cent from the same period in 2014, to 10.5 million head, StatsCan said.

Sheep inventories at July 1 were down 2.1 per cent from July 1, 2014, as market lambs fell 2.1 per cent to 405,600 head, StatsCan said. The number of ewes declined 1.8 per cent, while replacement lambs fell three per cent.

Among larger sheep-producing provinces, Ontario’s sheep inventory at July 1 sat at 329,100, down 1.9 per cent; Alberta’s sat at 195,000 head, down 2.5 per cent; Saskatchewan’s sat at 119,000 head, down 3.3 per cent; and Quebec’s sat at 260,000 head, down 0.8 per cent. — Network

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