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B.C. cattle numbers drop: StatsCan

By Rob Easton

Cattle number could rebound thanks to Asian demand. (QMI AGENCY)

Cattle number could rebound thanks to Asian demand. (QMI AGENCY)

New numbers released this week from Statistics Canada indicate the total number of head in B.C.’s cattle herd has been decreasing over the last decade. 

Since the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy – also known as mad cow disease – farmers’ herds were at an all-time high, but the economic downturn, followed by a drought, led to a steady decline in cattle numbers in B.C. and across the country.

“In 2010, we were hit with a widespread drought throughout the province and because we were going through a seven-year slump, our ranchers didn’t have the resources to buy feed,” said Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.

Ranchers were forced to sell at a time when they couldn’t afford to feed their animals, which led to the most recent numbers.

But, Boon says, the new statistics don’t tell the full story. Numbers are about to increase again as more producers are breeding animals this year.

“Most producers are looking to grow their herds at this point as we’re seeing bigger demand for protein in Asian countries who are eating much more of our product,” he said.

But don’t expect an increase in the provincial steak supply to have an impact on your wallet. Boon says the higher prices we’ve seen recently at the grocery stores are here to stay for the foreseeable future.


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