Canada’s cattle herd shrinks, hog supplies rise

Canada’s cattle herd shrank as of July 1 to its smallest in 17 years, while the number of hogs rose by mid-year for the first time in five years, Statistics Canada said Monday.

Farmers had nearly 13.9 million head of cattle on their farms, down 0.8 per cent from a year ago, continuing a six-year slide. High costs of feed grains and a robust Canadian dollar have cut into farmers’ profits, although cattle prices are sharply higher than a year ago.

Farmers reported 11.9 million hogs at mid-year, up 0.8 per cent, marking their second straight quarter of growth. Supplies of sows and gilts, however — a measurement of the growth potential of hog supplies — dipped 1.1 per cent to their lowest level in 11 years.

Live cattle exports of 374,400 head during the first half of 2011 marked a drop of about 40 per cent from a year earlier.

The U.S. country-of-origin meat-labelling law (COOL), which Canada and Mexico are fighting through the World Trade Organization, has curtailed Canadian livestock exports to the United States for several years.

Hog exports eased 3.1 per cent during the second quarter to 1.4 million head.

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