Statistics Canada has released its livestock estimates as of January, and although sheep numbers are on the rise it’s a bit of a different story for cattle and hogs. Comparing January 2019 to last year, it was the first year-over-year decrease for hog inventories since January 2013. Although there is small increase for cattle, inventories overall have been on the decline since January 2005.
As of the first of January, Canadian farmers had 11.5 million cattle on farm, down 1.1 per cent from January of last year. Inventories were 23.3 per cent below their peak level in January 2005 — this is roughly the same time BSE finished its course in Alberta.
According to Statistics Canada, cattle producers retained less breeding stock last year, as the number of beef heifers held for breeding on Canadian farms was down 1.4 per cent to 553,800 head compared with the same date a year earlier. The number of beef cows decreased 1 per cent to 3.7 million head.
The inventory of calves on January 1 decreased 1.3 per cent to 3.7 million head. On the bright side, the number of feeder heifers increased 1.2 per cent; however, the number of steers decreased 3.4 per cent from January 1, 2018.
More than 72,000 farms reported inventories of cattle and calves, down 1.6 per cent from January last year compared to this year, which is 3.1 per cent lower compared with the same date in 2017.
Canadian farmers had 1.4 million dairy cows and heifers on their farms, up 0.3 per cent from January 1, 2018.
High cattle slaughter levels during the second half of 2018 attributed to the increase of total disposition of cattle, which rose 1.6 per cent compared to 2017. Total cattle slaughter rose 3.1 per cent to 1.8 million head in the second half of 2018, marking the third consecutive year-over-year increase.
There was a decrease of 2.3 per cent on international exports of cattle to just over 295,000 head during the second half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017. Statistics Canada says slaughter cattle prices were lower on average during the second half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.
A decrease of 1 per cent occurred last month for hog producers who reported 14 million hogs. That attributes to the first year-over-year decrease in six years.
However, the hog inventory remained 10.1 per cent above the January 1, 2013 level. As of January 1, there were 8,060 farms reporting hogs in Canada, down 1.3 per cent from the same date a year earlier. These farms reported 1.2 million sows and gilts, down 0.1 per cent from January 1, 2018. Exports were also down by 4.2 per cent in the second half of 2018 for a total of 2.6 million hogs. This meant, exports were 51.7 per cent below their peak level during the same period in 2007. Canadian hog prices also decreased in the second half of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.
Canadian farmers held 842,300 sheep and lambs at the beginning of January which is up 2 per cent compared with the same date in 2018. It’s the second consecutive year-over-year increase.
The ewe flock also increased, with the number of ewes growing to 523,000 head, an increase of 1.8 per cent. Replacement lambs were up 2.9 per cent to 81,200 head. The number of rams edged up 0.4 per cent, to 23,700 head. The number of market lambs increased 2.6 per cent from January 1, 2018, to 214,400 head.
Statistic Canada says that international exports of sheep decreased by 800 head in the second half of 2018, down 33.3 per cent from the same period in 2017.