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News 1690 views last update:May 1, 2008

Number of pigs in Canada declines rapidly

Canada's pig herd has shrunk dramatically by almost 12% in the last twelve months.

High feed costs and low pig prices forced producers to quit business or downscale their production, a joint report by Statistics Canada (Statscan) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed last week.

As of April 1 there were 13 million animals on Canadian farms, compared with nearly 14.73 million at April 1, 2007, which equals to an 11.8% loss. That is the largest year-to-year decline in 30 years, the report said.

Statscan said in its report that at the beginning of April, Canada had almost one in five fewer pig farmers than in April 2007. "Of those still in business, a number have closed their barns or reduced their breeding herd, or both."

The number of sows fell 4.6% during the year to approximately 1.50 million head, Statscan said.

Exports to USA
The new Canadian data indicates the pace of swine exports from Canada to the USA should slow down going forward, according to several analysts.

Canada has increased its live pig exports to the by nearly 30% over the past 12 months as a strong Canadian dollar and several other factors have made it rather expensive to feed them to be slaughtered in Canada.

Total exports rising
Canadian farmers exported an estimated 2.9 million pigs during the first three months of 2008, a 25.9% increase from the same period a year ago. At the same time, the domestic slaughter of pigs declined 1.1%, compared with the first three months of 2007, according to Statscan data.

In February of this year, the Canadian government announced a cull programme aimed at reducing the pig breeding herd by about 10% and resizing annual production by about 3 million pigs.

The new data put combined US and Canadian inventory during March 2008 at 78.9 million head, up 3% from a year ago and up 5% in comparison to March, 2006.

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Editor PigProgress

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