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Canadian cattle herd hits 1989 lows

Livestock inventories have dropped, according to the latest estimates released by Statistics Canada.

On Jan. 1, Canadian cattle, hog and sheep numbers were down compared with the same date one year earlier.

Canadian farmers held 11.1 million cattle and calves on their farms. The Canadian cattle herd fell to the lowest level since Jan. 1, 1989. Record average producer prices of Canadian cattle and calves, drought conditions, and tight feed supply continued to put downward pressure on the cattle sector, and producers responded by sending breeding stock to feedlots.

Canadian hog inventories fell for the second consecutive year largely affected by rising feed costs, labour shortages, reduced processing capacity, and international market issues. Hog producers reported 1.2 million sows and gilts down 2.2 per cent, and the number of boars decreased by 3.1 per cent year over year to 15,500 head. Canadian hog producers reported 13.8 million hogs on their farms on Jan. 1, 2024, down 1.0 per cent from the same date one year earlier. Quebec’s hog inventories declined 4.8 per cent amid the closure of a Quebec pork plant and herd-reducing program payments, while Manitoba’s inventories increased 2.4 per cent year over year.

Canadian sheep inventories declined year over year for the first time since Jan. 1, 2020 and were reported to be down 2.2 per cent year over year to 828,300 head. Average producer prices of slaughter lambs have weakened since the strong prices during 2021 and early 2022. Lower prices and increased feed costs have contributed to the decline of inventories in the sector.

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