Beef farmers' grazing cattle in Canada averaged 19.3 weeks without supplemental feed in summer 2021, down from 21.9 weeks in 2017, according to Statistics Canada data; cattle grazed in the winter on 61% of beef farms in 2021, down 7% from 2017

Sample article from our Agriculture Industry

OTTAWA , October 13, 2023 (press release) –

Grazing beef cattle in the summer and winter

In the summer of 2021, beef farmers' grazing cattle averaged 19.3 weeks without supplemental feed, down from 21.9 weeks in 2017. Beef cattle grazed with supplemental feed for 10.9 weeks on average in summer 2021, similar to the 10.5 weeks reported in 2017.

Cattle were grazed in the winter on 61% of beef farms in 2021, down 7% from 2017. In the 2021 winter months, beef farmers who grazed their cattle reported doing so without supplemental feed for an average of 8.5 weeks. Beef cattle were grazed with supplemental feed for an average of 8.5 weeks in 2021. Beef cattle spent an average of 11.1 weeks grazing, relying mostly on feed brought on site, down from 13.6 weeks in 2017.

Most poultry and pig farmers purchase their feed

In 2021, 11% of poultry farmers reported growing feed on their operation, unchanged from 2017. Among pig farmers, 21% did the same, down 6% from 2017.

Of pig farmers who did not grow feed on their operations in 2021, 85% purchased pre-mixed feed, up 3% from 2017, while 13% purchased feed as separate ingredients, down 4% from 2017.

Pig farms store less liquid manure, while other farm types show less change

The percentage of pig farmers storing liquid manure dropped to 83% in 2021 from 93% in 2017. The percentage of dairy farmers storing liquid manure in 2021 was 78%, similar to the 76% reported in 2017.

In 2021, 18% of dairy farmers stored solid manure, down 5% from 2017. The percentage of beef farmers storing solid manure in 2021 compared with 2017 remained stable, at 42%, whereas for poultry farmers, it rose 4% to 67%.

Many solid manure storage structures have concrete pads

Manure storage structures can have many different characteristics, some of which decrease risks of runoff. On dairy farms storing solid manure, 73% of solid manure storage structures had a concrete or impermeable pad in 2021, up from 66% in 2017. In 2021, 21% of beef farmers storing solid manure had a concrete or impermeable pad, up 3% from 2017, and 15% had runoff containment. In 2021, 73% of poultry farms had a concrete or impermeable pad, unchanged from 2017.

Manure management practices are not commonly used for solid manure

Farmers can use various practices to manage or treat solid manure on their operation, such as turning, actively composting or mixing with additives. The proportion of dairy farmers reporting that they did not use any of these practices dropped from 77% in 2017 to 71% in 2021. Similarly, 49% of beef farmers in 2021 reported not using these manure management practices, down 6% from 2017. The percentage of poultry farmers reporting none of these manure management practices saw little change, from 69% in 2017 to 71% in 2021.

  Note to readers

The Farm Management Survey

The Farm Management Survey (FMS), conducted every five years, is a collaborative project between Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The FMS contributes to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's work on measuring selected management practices in the agriculture sector. The information generated from this survey informs federal and provincial policy decisions in the sector.

FMS data were collected using a sample of 18,000 farms selected to be representative of 81% of Canadian production of dairy cows; beef; poultry; pork; field crops; forage crops; and fruit, vegetable, berry and nut crops. Small farms were automatically excluded, and large ones were considered "must take" because of their national influence on farm practices.

The survey aims to produce estimates for seven farm types at both the provincial and ecological region levels. Each respondent filled out the questionnaire for only one of these commodities based on the significance of their production nationally and within their region. Data from the Census of Agriculture were used to identify the importance of each farm's production.

Methodological information

Further information on the Farm Management Survey is available.

Previous publications

Further analysis can be found in the Farm Management Survey release from February 17, 2023.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

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Dan Rivard
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