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U.S. and Canadian Cattle Inventory Comparison

25 March 2013

CANADA/US - On March 6, 2013, Statistics Canada released its Livestock Estimates, January 1, 2013, report which detailed cattle, hog, and sheep inventories in Canada, writes Tim Petry, Livestock Economist North Dakota State University Extension Service.

That same day USDA-NASS released the United States and Canadian Cattle and Sheep and the United States and Canadian Hogs reports.

The Jan. 1 U.S. cattle inventory numbers were also previously released by NASS on Feb. 1 in the Cattle report. Those numbers have been discussed in previous In The Cattle Market columns.

In summary, all cattle and calves in the U.S. on Jan. 1 were down 1.6 per cent from 2012. Beef cows were down almost 3 per cent, heifers kept for beef cow replacement were up 1.9 per cent, calves and feeder cattle outside of feedlots were up almost 1 per cent, cattle on feed were down 5.5 per cent, and the 2012 calf crop was down 2.9 per cent.

There were almost 12.3 million cattle in Canada on Jan. 1, 2013, up 0.5 per cent from 2012. This was the second consecutive yearly increase after the previous six years of declining inventories. Despite the increases, the cattle herd was still 17.8 per cent below its peak in 2005.

Beef cows at 3.96 million head were down about 1 per cent, continuing a downward trend that started in 2006. Canada’s beef cow herd is just short of the 4.015 million head that were in Texas on Jan. 1.

On a provincial basis, Alberta has the most beef cows at just under 1.6 million, followed by Saskatchewan at under 1.2 million, and Manitoba at slightly less than half a million. Beef heifers held for breeding in Canada were up 5.6 per cent to 569,800 head, and the third consecutive year of increases.

On a comparative basis, total cattle numbers in the U.S. were down 1.6 per cent compared to a 0.5 per cent increase in Canada. Beef cows declined 3 per cent in the U.S. and 1 per cent in Canada, beef replacement heifers increased 1.9 per cent in the U.S. and 5.6 per cent in Canada, cattle on feed in the U.S. declined 5.5 per cent in the U.S. and 3.4 per cent in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the 2012 U.S. calf crop declined 2.9 per cent compared to a 2.5 per cent decline in Canada.

Better moisture conditions in Canada, than in some important cattle producing regions in the U.S. that suffered with drought conditions in 2012, were likely a reason for the smaller per centage decline in beef cows and the greater per centage increase in beef replacements in Canada.

Due to my close proximity to Canada, I have had the opportunity to speak at Canadian cattle producer meetings. They seem to have the same questions as U.S. cattle producers.

Several Canadian producers have expressed an interest in expanding their beef cow herds, but also were apprehensive given the increasing costs of production and the volatility in cattle and feed prices.


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