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Canadian Hog Numbers Decline for Second Straight Year

The number of hogs on Canadian farms as of Jan. 1 fell for the second straight time and hit the lowest in 8 years, according to a Statistics Canada livestock report Friday. 

The report pegged the total number of hogs nationwide at the beginning of the New Year at 13.76 million head, down 1% from a year earlier and the lowest Jan. 1 count since 2016 at 13.63 million. Rising feed costs, labour shortages, reduced processing capacity and international market issues, especially in eastern Canada, all combined to reduce the national hog herd, StatsCan said. 

The problems have hit particularly hard in the largest pork production province of Quebec, where leading processor Olymel has closed several facilities and is reducing its slaughter capacity by an estimated 1.6 million hogs a year. Meanwhile, amid heavy losses, it was reported late last year that more than 20% of Quebec hog producers had applied for a program to compensate farmers who sharply reduced their herds or quit the industry altogether. 

At 4.16 million, the total number of hogs on Quebec farms as of Jan. 1 was down almost 5% on the year. On the other hand, Ontario numbers held mostly steady at 3.6 million, while Manitoba’s herd was up 2.4% at 3.35 million head. Alberta hog numbers were steady from the previous year at 1.53 million, with Saskatchewan down only slightly at 945,000. 

The national breeding herd as of Jan. 1 was estimated at 1.21 million head, a 2.2% decline compared to a year earlier, while the number of market hogs was up slightly at 2.62 million. The Canadian pig crop, which represents the number of live piglets after weaning, rose to 14.9 million from July to December 2023, a 2% increase compared with July to December 2022. 

From July to December 2023, the total hog slaughter increased 1% to 10.9 million head, and international exports of live hogs increased 7.4% to 3.4 million head during the same period, StatsCan said. 


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