Alberta Cattle Industry Statistics
The Alberta cattle industry began in the late 1800s with English and American settlers discovering the many advantages that make Alberta an ideal location to raise cattle. These frontier producers found ways to prosper in the Canadian climate by using progressive management practices and by being early adopters of technology.
That same spirit persists today. Alberta cattle producers are committed to ensuring that their industry makes a positive contribution to the economy in a way that is compatible with the sustained and safe use of the land, water and other resources they employ.
Primary Beef Production - In 2009 there were approximately 49,500 farms in Alberta with close to 26,500 (53%) having cattle (Alberta Beef Producers). Of the total about 20,500 or 41.5% were considered to be beef cattle ranching, farming and feedlot operations that earn over 50% of their revenue receipts from beef cattle (Statistics Canada, 2006).
Alberta is the largest cattle-producing province in Canada. It led the nation in cattle and calf inventories, with an estimated 5.5 million head as of July 1, 2010, or nearly 40% of the national total (14.0 million head). Alberta has 1.95 million breeding beef cows and heifers which is about 39% of Canada’s total herd.
Alberta fed over 2.18 million cattle during 2009 with total annual beef production of over 773 thousand tonnes-equivalent of beef on the hoof; this includes domestic processed and live exports (Canfax).
Alberta has an average of 189 beef cattle per farm. Alberta has 21,095,393 hectares of farmland; 31% of all Alberta farmland is natural land for pasture. About 12% of all Alberta farmland is tame or seeded pasture land.
Contribution to the Economy
Farm Income - Beef cattle production is Alberta’s largest agricultural sector providing $2.9 billion in farm cash receipts during 2009 or 34% of Alberta total farm production income.
Alberta’s cattle industry has an economic multiplier effect of about 4:1, this is an overall benefit of over $11.6 billion to the economy which would include primary production, processing, exports and retail sales.
Meat Production Economics
Value-added Beef Production - During 2009 cattle slaughter (excluding calves) in federally and provincially inspected plants was 2.4 million head or approximately 71% of the Canadian total of 3.4 million head. The Alberta slaughter numbers also represented roughly 96% of the western Canadian total of 2.5 million head (Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development).
Meat processing accounted for $5 billion in 2009 which was 42% of the Alberta’s total food processing sector (ARD Statistics Fact Sheet, 2010).
Alberta’s processed beef production during 2009 was about 772,000 tonnes. Approximately 16% of this was sold within the province, 45% to other provinces, 31% to the United States and 8% to other countries. Annual exports of Alberta beef and cattle were valued at approximately $1.4 billion (ARD Statistics).
Beef remained the largest meat export product in the province, accounting for about 70% of Alberta’s total meat exports. Alberta beef shipments to the U.S during 2009 totaled 236,000 tonnes with a value of $708 million. Alberta exported 48,822 feeder cattle and 346,210 slaughter cattle to the U.S. in 2009. Total live cattle exports were valued at $465 million (ARD Statistics, 2010).