The Canadian cattle inventory continues to shrink, while hog populations went up slightly over the past year.

A report on livestock estimates from Statistics Canada last week shows cattle herds are down about two per cent from 2014, with beef cattle numbers specifically falling about three per cent. While that's only a slight drop from last year, it's a 23 per cent decrease from 10 years ago.

"We've got to remember the peak in 2005 wasn't where the industry should have been," says Brenna Grant, manager of Canfax Research Services. "Higher inventories in 2005 were caused because we had limited market access and we had closed borders, and our herd, because it had no where to go, ended up expanded. But there have been a number of things over the past decade that have really impacted the industry — not just BSE, but also the changes in the exchange rate and record high feed prices that have affected profitability of producers."

Grant says a lot of liquidation happened between 2006 and 2011, but since then, things have stabilized toward a consolidation phase. She says, however, the main point of this report is that expansion in Canada has been delayed another year, and if it hasn't happened yet, she's not sure when it will.

"One of the big things for the expansion to occur, is to have available feed stuffs available. Large parts of Western Canada that we been hoping were going to be retaining bred heifers and expanded in 2015, ended up in dry conditions, and very concerned about upcoming winter feeds stocks," she says.

Cattle slaughter and exports also fell during the first half of 2015 compared to the previous year, which Grant attributes to liquidation that happened earlier in 2014.

Canadian hogs, however, are a different story, with producers seeing an increase of about one per cent. Hog exports also jumped up by almost 18 per cent, with hog slaughter increasing close to three per cent.

Canadian Pork Council chair, Rick Bergmann, says the increase in slaughter comes partly because some producers are retaining animals that would've been live exports.

"Country of Origin Labelling has done tremendous damage to our industry over the years, and also right now. So some producers have made the decision to keep the animals back here in Canada versus exporting the live animals, primarily into the U.S.," he says.

Bergmann says, however, the solid year of exports reflects both live hogs and pork products.

"As time goes on, more and more countries respect all the work that we do here with our different programming, like the quality assurance program and traceability program that we have now," he says. "As consumers, it doesn't matter if we're here in Manitoba or Canada or around the world, we all want to have a good product."

As of July 1, 2015, Canadian cattle farmers had 13 million head on their farms, and hog producers reported 13.2 million head.

The full Statistics Canada report, including numbers for sheep, can be found online.