"BSE, low beef prices, and then high feed costs have decimated Alberta's cow herd, but a turnaround is in view...
Canadian cattle producers are receiving strong price signals to begin expanding their herds - but will that be enough to reverse the decline in the national herd?
New cattle farmers have been as rare as decent profits for most of the post-BSE period. Alberta's cow herd peaked at 2.2 million head in 2005, but the 2011 agricultural census found the herd had shrunk to fewer than 1.6 million cows.
The number of producers fell even faster. In 2001 , nearly 29,000 farms had cows on them. A decade later , that number had plunged by nearly 10,000. A few counties lost 10 to 20% of their cattle producers, but drops of 30 to 40% were not uncommon. ALBERTA FARMER "
What this means is cattle farmers that are left in the industry are going to be cautious with any expansion. That will mean a slower increase in numbers over the years to come. High prices for the farmer and inevitably for the consumer.
And those young farmers looking to get into the business are going to be faced with high cattle prices to get in. Along with the fact that most young people today do not want the workload and commitment that goes with raising livestock...as it is a way of life. Most would rather follow technology and grain farm and have some time and quality of life with there young family. The next couple years will be years of change in the industry as cattle farmers look to get back some of the losses over the past 10 yrs by selling young stock for slaughter and there will be no fast track to expanding the herd. One glimer of hope for the industry is some young people who have left the farm for the oil patch wanting to come back and invest in the farm again when prices are on the mend. Time will tell!