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Cattle Inventories In Canada Decline: StatsCan

 Canada’s estimated total cattle and calf inventory as of January 1, 2011, continued to decline, dropping 3.4 per cent from the level seen at the same time a year ago, according to figures released by Statistics Canada on Feb. 17, 2011.

As of January 1, 2011, Canadian producers had an estimated

12.460 million head of cattle and calves on their farms. This compares with a July 1 2010 level of 13.975 million head and the January 1, 2010 level of 12.905 million.

The government agency pointed out that the cattle herd in Canada has declined steadily since the peak in 2005.

The inventory of beef cows fell 2.7 per cent, continuing a downward trend started in January 2006, as producers continued to cull their herds. The number of replacement heifers increased 4.5 per cent in the western provinces and declined 6.5 per cent in the East.

Overall, inventories of beef replacement heifers rose 2.9 per cent, StatsCan said.

The increase in replacement heifers indicated producers were replenishing the herd with younger cows,. However, breeding herd replacements have not offset the beef cow decline in 2010 and cattle producers are reporting lower calving expectations during January to June 2011 compared with the same period last year, the government agency said.

Producers reported a 0.6 per cent year over year increase in the dairy cow herd to meet milk production quotas that have risen slightly over the last several months of 2010.

Cattle on feed in Canada were down 0.7 per cent at January 1, 2011 from one year earlier. Feeding operations include feedlots and backgrounding operations that do not report a breeding herd, StatsCan said. The feeder supply (heifers and steers for growing on) have fallen 5.3 per cent from a year ago. Total feeder and calves supply are down 0.7 per cent in Canada and 3.6 per cent in the U.S. at January 1, StatsCan said.

In calendar 2010, cattle and calf slaughter totalled 3.7 million head, up 0.9 per cent from 2009 but down 2.9 per cent from 2008. Slaughter plant capacity in Saskatchewan was reduced in 2010, but capacity remains in Canada to handle current slaughter requirements, StatsCan said. On average, 3.9 million head were slaughtered in Canada in each of the previous five years. There were 1.1 million head of cattle and calves exported in 2010, up 4.7 per cent from 2009, but down 30.1 per cent from 2008. Fed cattle (ready for slaughter) exports were up in 2010 while feeder exports were down, StatsCan said.

Tight feeder supply, a near=par Canadian dollar and a comparative feeding advantage in Canada versus the United States, were some of the contributing factors to the export reduction of feeders. Corn price increases were larger than barley price increases in 2010 giving Canada a slight feed advantage over the United States; as feeder cattle are fed corn in the United States and barley in Canada.

Since 2008, the Country of Origin Labelling regulation in the U.S. has reduced the ability for U.S. feedlots to accept and market Canadian feeder cattle, StatsCan said.

Non-fed cattle (slaughter cows and bulls) are mainly imported into the U.S. by meat processors that are producing large volumes of ground beef. The labelling requirements are more flexible in the United States to account for multiple country sources for ground beef. Non-fed cattle exports were steady from 2009 to 2010.

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