Carcass weights and import export update


Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Jason Wood, provincial livestock market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, updates the numbers as of March 18, 2020.

“Canadian steer carcass weights have been stable for the start of 2020, ranging between 903 lbs and 914 lbs,” says Wood.

He adds that for the first week of March, steer carcasses averaged 914 lbs, a decline of 2 lbs from a year ago. Heifer carcass weights were down 3 lbs from a year ago, averaging 854 lbs in the first week of March.

“During the first 10 weeks of 2020, steer carcass weights are averaging 909 lbs,” he says. That’s down 19 lbs from the same period a year ago.”

“Seasonally, steer carcass weights are stable through the first quarter, then decline to a low in late May to early June before peaking in late October to early November.”

A look at the 5-year average shows that steer carcass weights ranged 86 lbs from a low of 852 lbs to a high of 938 lbs.

“Carcass weights continue trend upward and have increased 79 lbs or 9.5% between 2005 and 2019, based on the annual average weight for a steer carcass.”

Wood says that cattle slaughter is on par with year ago levels but up 12.4% compared to the 5-year average. Year to date, Canadian cattle slaughter is just under 567,000 head.

“Year-over-year steer slaughter is up 7.2%, heifer slaughter is down 4.1%, cow slaughter is down 10.9% and bull slaughter is up 8.2%”

“Canadian beef production, to the week ending March 7, 2020, is down 1% at 485 million pounds compared to 2019.”

With the final numbers now available, Wood provides an update to the cattle imports and exports article from January 30, 2020.

“Canadian non-purebred cattle imports from the U.S. in 2019 were 269,273 head, an increase of 38% compared to 2018. Total value of imported cattle from the U.S. was over $251 million in 2019, up 37% from 2018.”

He says that Alberta non-purebred cattle imports were 160,530 head in 2019, an increase of 58% compared to 2018 when just under 102,000 head were imported.

“The value of Alberta cattle imports from the U.S. for 2019 was over $138 million, an increase of 62% compared to 2018.”

In 2019, 60% of the cattle imported to Canada came into Alberta. Over the last 5 years, Alberta’s share of cattle imports has averaged over 43% of the Canadian total.

“Canadian exports of live cattle to the U.S. was over 722,000 head in 2019, up 14.6% from 2018 but 11% below the 5-year average.”

By category, Wood says that 2019 Canadian cattle exports were up 26% for slaughter cattle – including slaughter steer, heifer and cows – over 2018 but down 1.6% from the 5-year average. Canadian feeder cattle exports in 2019 were down 4.6% year-over-year and 24% lower than the 5-year average.


For more information, contact Jason Wood:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-422-3122
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)



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