Canadian Hog Herd Up Slightly from a Year Ago

Canadian hog numbers at the beginning of this year were up slightly, as the largest July-December pig crop in a dozen years helped to offset a rapid slaughter pace and heavy export demand.

According to a Statistics livestock inventory report on Monday, there were about 14 million hogs on Canadian farms as of Jan. 1, 2021, up 0.4% from the previous year and more than 11% above the decade-earlier level. StatsCan reported the July-to-December pig crop, which represents the number of piglets remaining alive after weaning, at 14.9 million, the highest since Jan. 1, 2009.

Despite disruptions and backlogs in the processing sector created by COVID-19, Canadian hog slaughter maintained a fast pace, StatsCan said. Total slaughter for the July-to-December period hit the highest levels since Jan. 1, 2005, increasing 4.2% year over year to 11.5 million head. “Chinese demand for pork meat remained strong in the latter half of 2020, as the country continued to recover from the effects of African swine fever,” the federal agency said.

Along with a rapid domestic slaughter pace, exports were hot too.

Canada exported 2.8 million hogs in the second half of 2020, up 10.1% from the same period in 2019. The higher export demand for pork, as well as increased demand for weaner pigs in the US, generally helped Canadian producer prices recover in late 2020 relative to the same period in 2019, following dips over the spring and summer months, StatsCan noted.

Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba held the largest inventories among the provinces on Jan. 1. The eastern provinces are home to nearly 60% of Canada's hogs, with Quebec accounting for nearly one-third of Canadian hog inventories, at 4.3 million head. Quebec has held Canada's highest hog inventories since 1991.

As of Jan. 1, 7,575 Canadian farms reported hogs, down 0.8% from the same date a year earlier. These farms reported 1.2 million sows and gilts, up 1%, while the number of boars remained virtually unchanged year over year.

Despite trending upward this past year, Canadian hog inventories have generally been stable since 2016.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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