Canadian Cattle Statistics August 2008

By Statistics Canada. Canada’s national cattle herd continued to decline during 2007, as exports to the United States accelerated. Cattlemen reported 15.2 million heads on their farms, down by 4.3%, from the previous year.
calendar icon 20 August 2008
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Statistics Canada

Highlights

  • Canadian farmers reported a cattle and calf inventory of 15.2 million head, a decline of 4.3% from last year.
  • The beef cow inventory is down 4.7% and calves born decreased 4.8% from a year ago despite an improving calving rate since the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in 2003.
  • With the increase in coarse grain prices, the number of cattle on feeding operations have declined 12.3% since last summer.
  • Over the past two years, the number of farms reporting cattle and calves has stabilized around 107,000 operations following a loss of 8,500 cattle farms during the previous three years.
  • There are no signs of herd rebuilding as beef heifers for breeding and replacement are down 2% from the same time last year.

Analysis

Cattle herd contracts

Canadian farmers reported a cattle and calf inventory at 15.2 million head, a decline of 4.3% from last year continuing the downward trend that started in 2006. The beef herd and the dairy herd declined 4.8% and 1.2% respectively.

The beef cow inventory is down 4.7% and calves born decreased 4.8% from a year ago despite an improving calving rate since the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in 2003.

Text table 1
Livestock inventories at July 1
  Cattle Hogs Sheep
  2007 2008 2007 2008 2007 2008
  thousands of head
Canada 15,885 15,195 14,690 12,985 1,096 1,062
Atlantic 289 280 299 181 43 41
Quebec 1,395 1,375 4,120 4,000 295 290
Ontario 1,956 1,880 3,887 3,239 305 295
Manitoba 1,540 1,515 2,965 2,725 70 66
Saskatchewan 3,430 3,385 1,320 1,070 120 125
Alberta 6,470 6,010 1,970 1,650 205 185
British Columbia 805 750 129 120 58 60
Note(s): Figures may not add up to totals because of rounding.

With the increase in coarse grain prices, the number of cattle on feeding operations have declined 12.3% since last summer. Over the past two years, the number of farms reporting cattle and calves has stabilized around 107,000 operations following a loss of 8,500 cattle farms during the previous three years. Though the number of cattle farms is stable, the average farm size is down 2.7% over the last three years.

There are no signs of herd rebuilding as beef heifers for breeding replacement are down 2% from the same time last year. Regionally, beef heifers in the western provinces are down 3.3% whereas those in the eastern provinces are up 7.3%. This increase is more for herd replacement of older cows rather than herd rebuilding.

Chart 1
Cattle inventories drop

International shipments of cattle and calves from January to June 2008 are up 41.3% compared to the same period in 2007. The increase in exports is attributed to several factors, notably higher feed costs and the reopening of the border to live animal exports over thirty months of age. The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations in the US Farm Bill, though not yet law, may have had some impact with cattle being imported onto US feedlots. Animals which were in the U.S. as of July 15, 2008 are considered to be American for purposes of country of origin.

Chart 2
Canada’s Cattle and Calves Exports, per Year, per Region

Although beef consumption is still strong in Canada, the number of cattle and calves slaughtered domestically from January to June 2008 is down 4.2% from the same period in 2007. While domestic slaughter has been decreasing for the last two years, meat imports have been increasing to fulfill the demands of Canadian consumers.

Further information

To read the full report please click here (PDF format)

August 2008

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