Beef Market Update: StatsCan confirms Canada isn't following U.S. herd expansion

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Statistics Canada has confirmed once again that Canadian cattle producers are not following their American counterparts in expanding the beef herd.

The federal agency published its January 1, 2018, inventory report this week, and Anne Wasko, of Gateway Livestock, walks us through the numbers in this Beef Market Update.

First of all, for the not-so-analytical types, StatsCan offered a lesson in paying close attention to the numbers.

As of January 1, Canadian producers had 11.6 million cattle and calves on their farms, up 0.9 percent from the year previous, said StatsCan. However, the agency adjusted its past estimates downward to account for the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

“The Census is considered the benchmark, and there was a pretty significant revision downward for our current inventory report to get in line with what the Census was saying,” explains Wasko. “For example, the total cattle inventory for last year was reduced by 545,000 head, so StatsCan has been overstating the herd and this is an adjustment.”

Beef cow numbers were pegged at 3.7 million head, up 1 percent from a year ago, but she notes the revision process resulted in a reduction of about 154,000 head.

Doing the math, feeder supplies outside of feedlots are down about 1 percent to just over 4 million, says Wasko.

“Bottom line, that’s the smallest starting inventory for feeder supply outside of feedlots that we’ve had in Canada since the year 2000,” she says. “So again, just focusing on the whole supply not growing in Canada, which is completely the opposite story that we’ve been talking about in the U.S.”

(The U.S. report released a few weeks ago said inventory of all cattle and calves was up 0.7% at 94.4 million head as of January 1. The beef cow inventory was up 1.6% to 31.7 million head.)

Wasko breaks down the supply story coming out of the StatsCan report, including cattle numbers in each province, in this edition of the Beef Market Update:

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