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Cattle Numbers Lowest In Decades

According to a Statistic Canada report, there were 11.1 million cattle and calves on farms, down more than 2 percent from the previous year and the lowest number since 1989. In Alberta, there were 4.7 million head on all beef cattle operations as of January 1st. That's down 85 thousand from a year ago. Cow/calf operations were up 18 thousand head year over year to around 2.6 million, while the drop came in feeder and stocker operations which were down over 157 thousand head to 956 thousand.

Drought conditions and tight feed supplies, coupled with good prices, resulted in more breeding stock heading to market. Producers held 0.7 percent fewer feeder heifers and three percent fewer calves compared to a year ago. Average warm carcass weight increased 18 percent over the past 25 years, which helped offset the decline in beef production.

The Stats-Can report also took a glance at other livestock on-farm. Canadian hog producers reported 13.8 million hogs on their farms on January 1st., down 1 percent from the same time a year ago. Quebec's hog inventories declined almost 5 percent amid the closure of a huge pork plant in that province. Inventories of sheep and lambs in Canada were down 2.2 percent year over year.

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