The Statistics Canada Livestock Estimates July 1, 2020, report indicates that Canada's total cattle inventory as of July 1 has fallen year-over-year since the 2005 record of 16.880 million head, although their data shows a year-over-year increase from 2016 to 2017. Just the same, the total inventory fell to 12.235 million head as of July 1, 2020. This is the lowest inventory reported since 1989.
As seen on the attached chart, the beef cow herd has fallen in each of the past three years and 12 of the past 15 years, since reaching a record high of 5.436 million head in 2005. As of July 1, 2020, this count was estimated at 3.617 million head, down 1.4% from 2019 while a smaller drop than the 1.8% drop reported as of July 1, 2019.
The Saskatchewan beef cow herd is shown to increase by .9% year-over-year, while the Alberta cow herd dropped by 3.5%. Together, the 2.572 million head accounts for 71% of the nation's herd.
The number of replacement heifers on Canadian beef operations fell by .7% to 631,100 head, the lowest reported in 10 years.
Thursday's report included the agency's first tally of the effects of COVID-19 on Canada's beef industry. Due to COVID outbreaks that affected operations at Canada's major beef plants, along with issues faced at U.S. plants that affect the movement of finished animals south, the total disposition in the first six months of this year fell from 3.062 million head in 2019 to 2.842 million head in 2020, a drop of 7.4% or 226,500 head and to the smallest disposition estimated in three years. The overall slaughter in this timeframe fell by 151,000 head or 8.6% year-over-year to 1.611 million head, also the lowest in three years. Exports fell by 44,100 head or by 10.7% to 369,900 head.
As stated by Statistics Canada, total cattle inventory would have been even lower had the pandemic not become a factor. Had the disposition of animals been able to keep up with the pace set in 2019, the total inventory could have been 226,500 head lower.
The situation for Canada's hog numbers proved different over the first six months of 2020. Canada's total hog inventory rose .2% to 14 million head as of July 1, the largest reported in three years for this period.
As U.S. hog plants were also affected by shutdowns, Canada's exports in the first six months of 2020 fell by 1.9% or by 49,500 head to 2.548 million head, the smallest volume reported in six years. At the same time, increased demand for pork rose, particularly in China, which saw the slaughter of hogs rising by 3.7% to 11.196 million head, the largest 6-month slaughter reported in 13 years of data available for this particular report. The overall disposition of 14.879 million head over the January through July period is the highest reported in 11 years.
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