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CME: US Feeder Cattle Imports from Canada, Mexico Decline

15 June 2016

US - Today we will review official monthly live animal imports from Canada and Mexico, focusing on the year-to-date (through to April) cattle and hog numbers, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Starting on the cattle side, the US imports feeder cattle from both Mexico and Canada and buys slaughter steers and heifers only from Canada. Feeder heifers coming in from Mexico are required to be spayed.

Historically, the US imports about 1 million head of cattle from each country, Mexico and Canada. So far this year, cumulative feeder cattle imports were below 2015’s numbers, with the majority of the decline from Canada during January through April.

Feeder cattle imports from Mexico were down 2 per cent, or down 6,000 head, while feeder cattle imports from Canada were down 17 per cent, or down 63,000 head.

On the fed cattle side though, slaughter steer and heifer imports from Canada were up 18 per cent (up 30,000 head) from January through April, compared to 2015.

The shift from feeder to slaughter cattle imports, from Canada, somewhat reflects the changing dynamics in the US cattle market including increased feeder cattle supplies and corresponding decreased feeder cattle prices.

Additionally, herd rebuilding in both Canada and Mexico are influencing the availability of cattle destined for the US.

Moving over to hogs, the US mainly imports live hogs from Canada, and the majority are feeder pigs.

In 2015, the US imported 4.5 million feeder pigs from Canada. This year feeder pig imports are up, compared to the January through April timeframe in 2015.

In total, feeder pig imports were up 13 per cent, up 178,000 head. These feeder pig imports are broken out by weight category.

Imports of pigs under 15 pounds were up 13 per cent (up 134,000 head), imports of pigs 15-50 pounds were up 10 per cent (up 18,000 head), and imports of pigs 50-110 pounds were up 14 per cent (up 26,000 head). The only category of hog imports down year-over-year were hogs over 110 pounds, down 48,000 head.

This increase in Canadian feeder pig imports has been influenced by an increased breeding hog inventory in Canada, and generally facilitated by exchange rates.

For the month of May, preliminary weekly live animal import data can help us understand what the official monthly data may look like. This preliminary data is published by USDA-APHIS.

On the cattle side, feeder animal imports from Mexico were down 57 per cent (down 45,000 head) year-over-year. Feeder cattle imports from Canada were up 70 per cent (up 11,000 head) year-over-year for May. Slaughter steer and heifer imports from Canada doubled year-over-year for the month, up 10,000 head.

Generally, we expect May official data to show reduced levels of live cattle imports, due to decreases from Mexico.

Weekly data for feeder pig imports show continued year-over-year increases to the tune of up 24,000 head (up 7 per cent) year-over-year for May.

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