There was only a marginal increase in the total number of cattle on Canadian farms at the beginning of the year.
Statistics Canada reports 12 million and 65 thousand head as of January 1st, up only 30-thousand from the previous year.
The national number of beef cows rose by a slim 0.2 percent but it was a different story in Saskatchewan.
Beef cows numbers increased 2.4 per cent to 1-million 158-thousand head.
One of the reasons was that fewer cattle went to Alberta feedlots due to larger amounts of less expensive, lower quality feed grain.
However, the most telling statistic was heifer replacement numbers, which were lower in all three prairie provinces—-1.8 percent in Saskatchewan, 2.2 percent in Alberta and down 4 percent in Manitoba.
Analyst Sandy Russell with Spring Creek Land and Cattle Consulting in Outlook, sees no sharp increase in the beef cow herd in Canada due to profitability, land availability and the age of producers.
She says there is some profiability on the feedlot side, so there is more backgrounding in the cattle industry.
Feed availability is also another factor.
She says the Canadian market has been stronger than the U.S. so more cattle have stayed in Canada instead of moving to feedlots in the U.S.
Russell says Alberta’s carbon tax remains to be watched to see what impact it will have on the feedlot sector.
She says strengthening beef prices this year are welcome but there is a lot of supply and there may be a downward price trend later this year.
Statistics Canada reports the size of the national beef cow herd remains relatively stable from one year ago, but there was nearly a two percent decline in the number of replacement heifers.