Nationwide head counts of livestock from the “early stages” of Western Canada’s ongoing drought won’t yet show the weather’s full impact, but showed slightly larger herds heading into this summer compared to last year.
Statistics Canada on Monday reported the first year-over-year increase in the size of the country’s cattle herd as of July 1 in about four years, at 12.3 million head, up 0.2 per cent from July 1, 2020.
Canada’s hog herd, meanwhile, was up one per cent over the same period, at 14.2 million hogs, while the sheep breeding herd reached 622,300 head, also up one per cent.
StatsCan pointed out that the livestock sector “continued to cope with challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” including temporary closures of packing plants to control outbreaks, as well as labour disputes, “particularly in the pork processing sector.”
Beef and dairy cattle inventories rose mainly on a 0.8 per cent increase to three million head in Eastern Canada, while slipping 0.1 per cent to 9.3 million head in the West. Alberta’s share of the Canadian herd remained largest at 39.6 per cent of the total, followed by Saskatchewan (21.9 per cent) and Ontario (13.1 per cent).
Cattle producers held 0.1 per cent less breeding stock compared with the same date in 2020, mainly on the number of beef cows dropping 1.7 per cent to 3.6 million head.
Inventory of calves on July 1 grew 1.4 per cent, to 4.1 million head, as births were up and imports of live calves from January to June “more than doubled year over year to meet increased demand from feedlots in Western Canada.”
On the other hand, Canada’s international exports of cattle and calves from January to June were down by 25.8 per cent year over year, to 274,300 head, reaching their lowest level since the BSE crisis of 2003-05 — mainly on drought conditions and reduced herds in the U.S., limiting that country’s need for imports.
In hogs, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba held the largest inventories among the provinces on July 1, with Quebec alone at 4.4 million head, about a third of the national total.
Total hog slaughter was down 1.2 per cent over the July-to-July period, at 11.1 million head, mainly on “labour issues and lower export demand for pork,” StatsCan said, although the slaughter in the first half of 2021 came in 2.6 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels for the same period in 2019.
Canada exported 3.3 million live hogs in the first half of 2021, up 28.4 per cent, from the same period in 2020, mainly out of Ontario — up 93.3 per cent at 955,400 head — on “processing disruptions” that redirected the flow of hogs destined for slaughter south to the U.S., rather than east to Quebec.
Ontario and Quebec combined held over half of Canada’s sheep and lambs on July 1. The number of market lambs rose 4.9 per cent year over year to 432,800 head, while lamb slaughter fell 1.5 per cent year over year to 296,100 head.
International exports fell 88.6 per cent year over year, to 800 head, 80.4 per cent below the previous 10-year average from January to June, on “limited domestic supplies and strong prices.” International imports of live animals for the period reached 12,000 head, which StatsCan noted was the highest level for the first-half period since 2010. — Glacier FarmMedia Network
Table: Canada’s total cattle inventories, July 1, 2020 and 2021, in thousands of head. Source: Statistics Canada.
|British Columbia. .||685.0||680.0|
Table: Canada’s total hog inventories, July 1, 2020 and 2021, in thousands of head. Source; Statistics Canada.
|British Columbia. .||89.0||88.0|