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

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

Nevil Speer

July 2, 2013

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

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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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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