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Latest livestock numbers cause for concern

Livestock numbers across the country declined for the period of July 2007 to July 2008 with significant drops in hog numbers and smaller declines in cattle and sheep, according to figures from Statistics Canada.


August 19, 2008
By Statistics Canada

August 19, 2008

Farm inventories of hogs declined 11.6 percent between July 2007 and July 2008, while smaller declines were seen in stocks of both cattle and sheep over the same period. Rising feed costs were a significant contributing factor to these declines.

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Hog inventories continue to decline

Hog inventories have declined to levels not seen since 2000, as soft slaughter prices and high feed costs continued to be prevalent in the hog industry.

As the hog industry continued its transition, farmers reported 13.0 million hogs on their farms as of July 1, 2008, down 11.6 percent from one year ago.


With low profit margins, farmers are leaving the industry. There were 19 percent fewer hog producers in the country compared with a year ago, led by Saskatchewan (–30 percent) and Alberta (–24 percent).


Domestic slaughter was up 1.4 percent compared with last year, as some slaughter plants increased capacity by adding a second shift.


Canadian hog exports declined in the second quarter of 2008 to approximately 2.2 million hogs, which marks the first quarterly decrease in more than a year.


Cattle herd contracts

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


The beef cow inventory was down 4.7 percent and the number of calves born decreased 4.8 percent from a year ago, despite an improving calving rate since the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis in 2003.


With the increase in coarse grain prices, the number of cattle on feeding operations has declined 12.3 percent 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 replacement were down 2.0 percent from the same time last year.

Sheep inventories lower

Farmers reported 1.1 million sheep and lambs, 3.1 percent lower than last year and continuing a downward trend that began in 2003.

For the full report, complete with graphs and tables, go to: www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080819/d080819b.htm