Total cattle inventories in Canada as of Jan. 1 were 13.180 million, 5.1% fewer than a year ago, according to Statistics Canada. Canadian cattle inventories have declined for four consecutive years and current inventory levels are down 12.5% from the peak of the last cycle in 2005. Canadian beef-cow inventories were reported at 4.655 million, 6.6% lower than a year ago.

The magnitude of the decline in Canadian beef-cow numbers was surprising and reflects the extremely difficult conditions under which Canadian producers had to operate in 2008, according to the CME Group Daily Livestock Report. Those tough conditions included a strong currency, very high feed costs and implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) in the U.S.