Alberta livestock and the Census of Agriculture

Almost 20,000 Alberta farms reported having cattle, calves May 10, 2016

What did the most recent Census of Agriculture for Canada (https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/ca2016) discover about livestock in Alberta? Austin Leitch, research analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, takes a closer look at the data and compares the differences between the 2016 and 2011 census years.

First off, says Leitch, “Statistics Canada defines a census farm as an agricultural operation that produces at least one of the following products intended for sale: crops, livestock, poultry, animal products, or other agricultural products such as Christmas trees, greenhouse or nursery products, honey and others.”

Key highlights include almost 20,000 Alberta farms reported having cattle and calves on May 10, 2016. “That was just over a 9.0 per cent decrease from 2011,” says Leitch. “However, of those farms, 5.2 million animals were reported, an increase of 2.0 per cent from 2011 to 2016. Alberta farms reported more than 41.5 per cent of the national total of cattle and calves, an increase from just under 40.0 per cent in 2011.”

More than 1.6 million calves were reported in 2016 in Alberta, an increase of over 3.0 per cent from 2011. Beef cows reported also increased 3.0 per cent, from just over 1.5 million in 2011 to almost 1.6 million in 2016.

Alberta farms reporting pigs increased by more than 41.0 per cent or more than 1,200 in 2016, an increase from 857 in 2011. The number of pigs reported also increased from almost 1.4 million in 2011, to about 1.5 million in 2016.

The number of farms reporting hens and chickens in the province increased by 27.0 per cent in 2016 to almost 4,000. There were just over 3,000 such farms in 2011. More than 14.0 million birds were reported in 2016, an 18.0 per cent increase from 2011. The number of turkeys reported also increased in 2016, up almost 9.0 per cent to about 770,000 birds.

Almost 1,700 farms reported sheep and lambs, about 4.0 per cent less than in 2011. More than 195,500 animals were reported on those farms, a decrease of just over 3.5 per cent from 2011.

The number of farms reporting goats increased by 3.0 per cent to 963 farms in 2016, up from 933 in 2011. “However,” adds Leitch, “The number of animals decreased by more than 3.0 per cent to just under 28,000 animals reported. Farms reporting bison decreased by just over 22.0 per cent in 2016 to 445 farms.”

Alberta farms reporting horses and ponies decreased just over 14.5 per cent to under 13,000 farms. The number of animals also decreased, down 22.0 per cent, or around 108,700 animals.

Farms reporting colonies of honeybees increased more than 83.0 per cent to 708 farms in 2016, up from 386 in 2011. The number of colonies of honeybees also increased to more than 29.0 per cent in 2016, or just under 305,000 colonies.

Alberta Farm Types

Statistics Canada classifies farm types according to the predominant type of production using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). “This is done by estimating the potential receipts from the inventories of crops and livestock reported on the questionnaire,” explains Leitch, “And then determining the product or group of products that make up the majority of the estimated receipts.”

Beef cattle ranching farms, including feedlots, represented 97.0 per cent of the cattle ranching farms in Alberta. “That number increased by more than 2.0 per cent, or almost 12,300 farms in 2016, from just over 12,000 farms in 2011,” adds Leitch.

Dairy cattle and milk production farms decreased about 15.0 per cent from 485 farms in 2011 to 411 farms in 2016, representing about 3.0 per cent of Alberta cattle ranching farms.

In 2016, 166 hog and pig farms were reported, down by almost 14.0 per cent from 2011.

The number of sheep and goat farms also fell by more than 19.0 per cent, to almost 400 farms in 2016.

Over that same period, poultry and egg production farms increased by 10.0 per cent to 373 farms.

Farms reporting horse and other equine production fell 20.5 per cent in 2016 to just over 3,100 farms, but, says Leitch, “Alberta remained the highest reporting province in Canada.”

The 2016 Census of Agriculture for Alberta – Provincial Highlights brochure (https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sdd16594) is now available to download. For more information, contact Austin Leitch at 780-427-9206.

-Submitted by Alberta Agriculture

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