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 Cattle and calves | Pigs | Sheep and lambs | Apiculture | Tables and figures

Cattle and Calves

Alberta's cattle and calf herd increased in 2005. Estimates, as of July 1, 2005, showed the total provincial herd rising 4.7 per cent to 6,700,000 from 6,400,000 in 2004. Higher inventories were typical of most cattle classes. The lone exception was dairy heifers, which fell by 2.6 per cent to 38,000 head. The increase in 2005 inventories could be partially attributed to BSE as producers held cattle on farms due to the lack of export markets for live cattle.

Total beef cows and heifers was estimated at 2,552,000 head, up 3.3 per cent from 2004, and is the largest beef breeding herd on record, eclipsing the record set in 1995; when numbers were at 2,505,000 head. When compared to a year ago, there was a 2.3 per cent rise in beef cow numbers to 2,200,000 head while beef heifer numbers rose 10.0 per cent to 352,000 head. This marked a second consecutive record high for beef cow numbers, as of July 1. Slaughter heifer numbers also reached a second consecutive record high as they climbed to 825,000 head or 7.8 per cent above last year's record of 765,000 head. The provincial dairy herd, comprised of cows and heifers, increased 4.9 per cent to 129,000 head from 127,000 a year ago.

Compared to other Canadian provinces, Alberta (as of July 1, 2005), continued to lead province in cattle and calf inventories (6,700,000 head). Next was Saskatchewan (3,625,000 head), followed by Ontario (2,300,300 head) and Manitoba (1,755,000 head). Alberta accounted for more than one-half (51.6%) of the total estimated western Canadian herd of 12,995,000 head and 39.3 per cent of the national total of 17,060,000 head.

Preliminary data showed Alberta annual total cattle slaughter (excluding calves) in federally and provincially inspected plants at 2,459,587 head in 2005, a 7.0 per cent decrease from 2004 record high. Steers and heifers comprised the bulk of the slaughter, and together accounted for 93.7 per cent of cattle slaughtered. Total cow slaughter fell 28.7 per cent, when compared to 2004. The slaughter decline was partially attributed to the resumption of under thirty-month old live cattle exports to the United States in July and the Lakeside packing plant strike in October.

Nationally, the 2005 data showed cattle slaughter (excluding calves) in federally and provincially inspected plants at 3,931,860 head, with Alberta accounting for 62.6 per cent of the national total. When compared to the western Canadian kill of 2,839,156 head, Alberta contributed 86.6 per cent of this total.

Annual prices for all classes of cattle were above corresponding 2004 levels and showed some recovery following the price collapse after the discovery of BSE in May 2003. The 2005 Alberta annual average slaughter steer prices increased 8.4 per cent to $84.98 per CWT, while the price for Alberta slaughter heifers rose 7.2 per cent to $85.87 per CWT. Average Alberta slaughter bull prices strengthened to $27.17 per CWT or 30.9 per cent of the 2004 level.

Total Alberta live cattle and calf shipments for 2005, as per brand inspection records, increased 161.2 per cent to 492,345 from a year ago largely as a result of the partial resumption of live cattle exports to the United States in July. Virtually all of the animals were exported as feeders, slaughter, or replacement cattle, and are discussed in the following three paragraphs.

Live feeder cattle and calf shipment to all destinations, in 2005, totaled 145,276 head or 53.1 per cent more than last year. There were 125,319 head shipped to other provinces, with the remainder heading to the United States. The largest volume, however, was shipped to Saskatchewan.

With respect to cattle and calves for slaughter, the 2005 total shipments jumped 338.0 per cent to 324,692 head when compared to the 2004 volume of 74,124 head. Of this total, 70.0 per cent of slaughter cattle exports were shipped to the United States.

The 2005 total movement of Alberta's live replacement cattle and calves rose 14.5 per cent to 22,377 head from 19,535 head a year previous. All live replacement cattle and calf exports in 2005 were shipped to the other Canadian provinces.


As of July 1, 2005, the estimated total number of pigs on farms in Alberta was 2,020,000 head, declining 0.5 per cent from 2,030,000 head in 2004. The total market hog inventory fell to 1,796,600 head or 1.1 per cent from the year ago total of 1,816,200 head. Alberta's breeding stock inventory, comprising boars, sows, and bred gilts, exhibited an increase in herd size. The breeding stock numbers rose 4.5 per cent from 213,800 head to 223,400 head. Boar numbers fell from 6,800 head a year ago to 6,600 head. The decline is attributed to the increased usage of artificial insemination. Across Canada,
Alberta continued to rank fourth in pig inventories, as of July 1, 2005, behind Quebec (4,380,000 head), Ontario (3,725,000 head), and Manitoba (2,940,000 head). In western Canada, the size of the pig herd was estimated at 6,525,000 head, with Alberta accounting for 31.0 per cent. This translated into 13.5 per cent of the national estimate of 14,976,000 head.

Alberta 2005 hog slaughter, in federally and provincially inspected plants, reached it's fourth consecutive record high totaling 3,122,016 head, increasing 3.8 per cent from 3,008,995 head a year ago. Slaughter hog marketings (or hogs of Alberta origin slaughtered in Canada) increased in 2005 and set a new record high. Marketings were pegged at 3,574,185 head, or 3.0 per cent higher than the kill in 2004 of 3,468,657 head. Coinciding with the strong marketings in 2005, there was a reduction in the annual index 100 hog price. In 2005, the average Alberta index 100 hog price was $1.46 per kg, or a 9.7 per cent decrease from the 2004 price of $1.62 per kg.

Sheep and Lambs

Estimates of sheep and lamb inventory, as of July 1, 2005, showed that the size of the provincial flock remaining flat on a "year-over-year" basis at 248,000 head. The stabilization of the total sheep and lamb flock follows the period of drought, BSE impacts, and relatively poor slaughter lamb prices.

As of July 1, 2005, Alberta ranked third amongst provinces in sheep and lamb inventories (248,000 head), after Ontario (310,000 head) and Quebec (301,000 head). The size of the western Canadian flock was estimated at 550,000 head, with Alberta accounting for 45.1 per cent of the total. Nationally, there were 1,209,100 sheep and lambs on farms, with Alberta contributing 20.5 per cent of the total.


Preliminary estimates indicate that the number of beekeepers in Alberta increased in 2005. The total number is estimated to be 700 and is 0.7 per cent above the 2004 estimate of 695. Nationally, the number of beekeepers also showed a slippage of 0.4 per cent to an estimated 7,895 producers compared to 7,925 in 2004.

Even though beekeeper numbers declined in the province, there was an increase in the estimated number of colonies in 2005 to 250,000 colonies compared to 248,000 a year ago. The average honey price in 2004 was $3.32 per kilogram, which is 26.2 per cent below the record setting price of $4.50 per kilogram of 2003. At the national level, colony numbers in 2005 rose by 2.0 per cent to 609,645 from the 2004 total of 597,890. Alberta's share of Canada's total number of colonies decreased in 2005 to an estimated 41.0 per cent from 41.5 per cent a year ago.

Total Alberta honey production for 2005 was estimated at 13,041 tonnes or 14.1 per cent below the 2004 estimate of 15,187 tonnes. Alberta accounted for 38.4 per cent of the estimated national production of honey. The Canadian estimate for honey production in 2005 was 33,918 tonnes, shrinking 0.9 per cent from the 2004 estimate of 34,242 tonnes. The average colony in Alberta produced an estimated 52 kilograms of honey in 2005, or 14.7 per cent lower than the 2004 estimate of 61 kilograms of honey per colony. Nationally, the 2005 average honey production per colony was 56 kilograms or 1.8 per cent below the 2004 estimate of 57 kilograms per colony.

Tables and Figures

PDF File
Table 47 - Livestock on Farms, Canada and Provinces, July 1, 1994-2005
Table 48 - Cattle and Calves on Alberta Farms, July 1, 1960-2005
Table 49 - Pigs on Alberta Farms, July 1, 1962-2005
Table 50 - Sheep and Lambs on Alberta Farms, July 1, 1962-2005
Table 51 - Livestock Slaughtered, Canada and Provinces, 1998-2005
Table 52 - Livestock Slaughtered in Alberta, 1995-2005
Table 53 - Summary of Alberta Slaughter Hog Marketings, 1996-2005
Table 54 - Alberta Supply and Dispsition Livestock Balance Sheet, 2003-2005
Table 55 - Alberta Direct to Packer Sales, 1995-2005
Table 56 - Alberta Slaughter Cattle Prices, 1995-2005
Table 57 - Average Feeder Cattle Prices, Edmonton, 1993-2005
Table 58 - Average Feeder Cattle Prices, Southern Alberta, 1993-2005
Table 59 - Average Calf Prices, Edmonton, 1993-2005
Table 60 - Average Calf Prices, Southern Alberta, 1993-2005
Table 61 - Alberta Average Slaughter Hog Prices (Index 100), 1994-2005
Table 62 - Central Alberta Average Market Lamb Prices (95-115 lbs), 1994-2005
Table 63 - Alberta Sheep and Lamb Marketings, 1994-2005
Table 64 - Alberta Brand Inspection Record of Live Cattle and Calf Shipments Out-Of-Province, 2004 and 2005
Table 65 - Registrations and Sales of Registered Horses in Alberta, 1996-2005
Table 66 - Alberta Horse Meat Exports by Destination, 1996-2005
Table 67 - Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) Statistics, Alberta, 1988-89 to 2005-06
Table 68 - Alberta Dairy Industry, 2000-2005
Table 69 - Output and Value of Poultry Meats, Alberta, 1994-2005
Table 70 - Production, Disposition and Value of Eggs, Alberta, 1994-2005
Table 71 - Chickens Slaughtered in Registered Stations, Alberta, 1993-2005
Table 72 - Alberta Game Farming Industry, 1996-2005
PDF File
Figure 25 - Number of Cattle and Calves on Alberta Farms, July 1, 1996-2005
Figure 26 - Slaughter Activity in Alberta, Annual Per Cent Change, 2000-2005
Figure 27 - Number of Cattle Slaughtered (Excluding Calves), Alberta as a Per Cent of Canada, 1998-2005
Figure 28 - Cattle and Calves and Hogs Slaughtered in Alberta and Canada, 1998-2005
Figure 29 - Alberta Slaughter Cattle Prices, 1995-2005
Figure 30 - Alberta Average Slaughter Hog Prices (Index 100), 1994-2005

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This information published to the web on October 10, 2005.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 31, 2015.