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Smallest Canadian cattle herd since 1989

On January 1, 2024, Canadian cattle, hog and sheep inventories were down compared with the same date one year earlier.

The Canadian cattle herd fell to the lowest level since January 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.

Cattle and calves
Canadian farmers held 11.1 million cattle and calves on their farms on January 1, 2024, down 2.1% from the same date the previous year and the smallest cattle herd size since January 1, 1989. However, in 2022, average warm carcass weights of cattle increased 18.0% compared with 1999, helping offset any decline in beef production over that period.

Canadian cattle producers retained less breeding stock on January 1, 2024, with year-over-year decreases observed in all breeding stock categories. Producers held fewer feeder heifers (-0.7%), steers (-0.2%) and calves (-3.0%) compared with January 1, 2023.

From July to December 2023, the total disposition of cattle and calves was up 0.9% compared with July to December 2022, while total supply was down 1.5%. From July to December 2023, international imports of cattle and calves declined 25.7% to 153,400 head, and international exports of cattle and calves increased 14.0% to 389,200 head.

Hogs
Canadian hog producers reported 13.8 million hogs on their farms on January 1, 2024, down 1.0% from the same date one year earlier. Quebec's hog inventories declined 4.8% amid the closure of a Quebec pork plant and herd-reducing program payments, while Manitoba's inventories increased 2.4% year over year.

On January 1, 2024, hog producers reported 1.2 million sows and gilts (-2.2%), and the number of boars decreased by 3.1% year over year to 15,500 head.

From July to December 2023, the total hog slaughter increased 1.0% to 10.9 million head, and international exports of live hogs increased 7.4% to 3.4 million head during the same period.

The pig crop, which represents the number of live piglets after weaning, rose to 14.9 million from July to December 2023, a 2.0% increase compared with July to December 2022.

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