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Sheep industry fares well despite challenges

The 2021 Census shows Alberta sheep and lamb industry has adapted well in terms of production level and retained farming entities.

See event listings and more articles in this edition of Agri-News: August 22, 2022 issue

“The 2021 Census of Agriculture, Statistics Canada, provides a strong indicator that the provincial sheep industry has fared quite well given the challenges posed by the pandemic and recent drought conditions of 2020 and 2021,” says Ann Boyda, provincial livestock market analyst with the Alberta government. “Over the period of 2016 to 2021, Alberta increased its national share of the production from 18.5% to 20.3%.”

Overall, the total number of sheep and lamb reported on farm in Canada decreased slightly with Alberta reporting the highest provincial increase of 18,458 head or 9.4%. Manitoba and Ontario also reported increases of 4.0% and 0.3%, respectively.

“In terms of farms engaged in sheep and lamb production Canada experienced a 9.6% decrease in production or 903 fewer farms,” explains Boyda. “However, in Alberta, that decrease was substantially less with a provincial number of 1.5% or 25 fewer farms.”

Image 1. Provincial sheep and lamb farms and number of head

Provincial sheep and lamb census farms and number of head (2016 vs 2021) graph

The number of rams and replacement lambs on farm in Alberta represent a comparable share of the farm production to that of the national share of animals on farm. Alberta reported a slightly greater share of market lambs (40% versus 38%) and a smaller share of ewes (48% versus 50%).

“The data suggests that Alberta sheep and lamb industry has adapted well in terms of production level and retained farming entities,” says Boyda.

For more information, see:

Agricultural Marketing Guide


Connect with Ann Boyda for more information.

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