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Industry At A Glance: U.S. Vs. Canada – Operation Size & Cow Inventory

cowherd operation size us vs canada
Despite the wide disparity in cowherd size between the U.S. and Canada, a data comparison reveals significant similarity in structure.

The U.S. beef cowherd is about 29 million cows, while Canada's is 3.7 million. However, recent Canadian census data provides an opportunity to compare and contrast the general structure of each country's beef industry. That’s important when it comes to understanding how each country operates in terms of decision-making, as well as the general sentiment among its beef producers.

  • The data reveal that both countries are dominated by operations of fewer than 50 cows. However, Canada boasts a higher percentage of operations of 50-100 cows.
  • Even more interesting is that the percentage of large operations (those of 100-500, and 500+ cows) in each nation's beef industry are nearly identical. That is, they comprise about 10-15% of all operations, and account for slightly over half of the cows in the U.S. and Canada.

u.s. canada cowherd size

All said, the data indicate that while the U.S. beef industry is more than seven times larger than Canada's in terms of cow numbers, beef operators in Canada aren't significantly different from their U.S. counterparts in terms of farm/ranch size and cow inventory. That demographic similarity might suggest that producers in both countries share similar perspectives on a number of issues.

How do you perceive the relative differences and similarities among beef producers in Canada vs. the U.S.? Leave your thoughts below.


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