Live cattle imports up nationally, dip slightly here

Live cattle imports up nationally, dip slightly here
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More cattle headed north last year, says a provincial livestock analyst.

“Live cattle imports from the U.S. to Canada were up in 2020 which is the fourth year-over-year increase in a row,” said Jason Wood. “The numbers for the January to December 2020 period show just over 272,000 non-purebred cattle were imported to Canada. This is up 1.5 per cent compared to 2019.”

However, the situation was different in Alberta. Non-purebred cattle imports fell slightly — by 2.2 per cent — to 156,000 head in 2020 (compared to just under 160,000 head in 2019).

But the last two years have seen a big increase in cattle imports into the province and so Alberta continues to account for most of the imports.

“In 2020, Alberta saw 57 per cent of the cattle imported to Canada come into the province,” said Wood. “This is above Alberta’s 53 per cent average share over the last five years.”

Chart: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Overall, 2020 Canadian cattle exports were also up two per cent for slaughter cattle (steers, heifers and cows) over 2019 and eight per cent higher than the five-year average. Feeder cattle exports in 2020 were down 36 per cent year over year and 39 per cent lower than the five-year average.

While imports have trended higher Wood said Canadian exports of live cattle to the U.S. trended downward.

“We saw a nine per cent drop from 2019 and 7.6 per cent below the five-year average,” he said.

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