Canada Diverse Agriculture

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While deciding on what country to do my research on, I decided to study the neighbors to the north of the United States. I am from Washington state and wanted a better knowledge of the different forms of Canadian agriculture. Canada has a beautiful landscape filled with trees and wide open spaces. In the past I have heard of many Americans running cattle clear into Canada which is very intriguing. Canada is a large country which makes the types of agriculture diverse in the many different regions with different climates that can impact the forms of agriculture used. Agriculture is an important industry to the Canadian economy; many family farms rely on the agricultural market to survive. With being a future agronomist, I am very interested in learning about different cropping systems and what forms of animal production they use. Canada is one of the few countries which spans across a continent and borders two different oceans which include the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.

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A little background about Canada it is broken up into ten different provinces which is similar to the states system used in the United States. The provinces are large in size which they all differ in production and population rate. According to the World Population Review website, the population size of Canada is just over 37 million people (2019). Although the population size does not appear to be large it makes up for it in the landscape. The cultural aspects of Canada are relatively similar to the United States, with that being stated Canada is a well-developed country and uses the most advanced technologies available. The two main languages in Canada are English and French. The currency used is the Canadian dollar which is equivalency is one Canadian dollar equals seventy five U.S. cents. People have the access to many different types of food and great healthcare. Since Canada is such a large country with the location being up north the conditions are pretty harsh when it comes to raising livestock, so the animals have to be well suited for the cold conditions or be kept in a climate controlled area. The British crown still owns a majority of land in Canada as well as the royalty rights to a decent amount of the oil and natural gas industry.

Since Canada was settled as a British colony many of the same religious values still apply there today. According to Caroline Oberheu, the majority religion is Catholic which makes up 39%, 29% are Protestant, and 24% consider themselves as non-religious (2016). Another religion that is part of the minority group of religions and percentage is unknown is Islam. Islam is a growing religion throughout the country and is reaching popularity. Also, the Islam religion does not eat pork so that could potentially play a role in the animal consumption down the road but as right now since Islam is considered a minority religion the impact on the pork production is low. The Catholic religion has some dietary restrictions when it come lent which is 40 days and nights long where the followers do not eat meat on Fridays. During the time period of lent the seafood consumption rate increases. One of the Catholic traditions is making sausage which normally consists of pork and spices then the meat is smoked in a smoker. With the majority of the population not being affected by religious dietary restrictions means that they are free for themselves to decide what they can and cannot eat.

Dairy production is unique because instead of using the capitalist approach that many countries use, Canada instead gives their dairy farmers a quota for production so that they do not over produce milk which generally lowers the price of milk. The quota system works by the government giving a farmer a set amount of milk to produces they want and then farmer fills that quota. If a farmer does not fill his quota, he can sell it to other farmers which can meet that goal. Although agricultural wise it appears to be a good idea using a quota system, but the consumers are generally not too excited about this system because they could buy milk in the United States for cheaper than they could in their own country. The Canadian government also sets a minimum price for milk which protects the dairy farmers from shutting. When the prices of dairy products plummet, the dairy farmers are hit hard normally and it causes a lot of farmers to go under, but Canada’s quota system helps to protect the farmers from this problem from occurring. Another way the government protects the dairy farmers is by putting high tariffs on dairy from products imported from other countries. While researching the tariffs on dairy products they do not normally take place until the amount imports tariff free limits are reached. The dairy farmers are basically stable with a reduced risk when it comes to the market.

Canada has a diverse side of animal agriculture which includes fur farming. In the early days of Canada fur trapping was a profitable and sustainable source of income for many fur trappers. Now days there are fur farms that raise animals strictly for their fur and then sell the fur from the animals to the different consumers. Maclachlan explain that most of the exported fur is mainly going to China and Russia because they have a larger market for the fur trade in those countries (2012). Although animal agriculture is typically used for meat or for work, the fur side of production is something that not very many people would think of when it comes to animal agriculture. In the fashion world especially, fur is used as clothing. Some of the examples of how fur is used includes fur coats and hats. Although there is fur farming there is also trapping for the fur markets which is still popular in Canada today. Many people trap animals just for their pelts which depending on the type of animal can be quite valuable.

Trapping goes hand in hand with the use of sled dogs which were traditionally used a source of transportation to the traplines. Since Canada receives a lot of snowfall during the winter season, transportation by car becomes extreme difficult to travel if the roads are not plowed. The use of travel by sled dogs allows for the sled to over the snow and not through it. Although today people have the ability to own snowmobiles, many people who are isolated from civilization still use sled dogs as a source of transportation. One reason why sled dogs are used as transportation is because fuel is often hard to come by and the maintenance the snowmobiles can be quiet costly. Sometimes parts break on the snowmobile and it becomes difficult to get the part, if the machine cannot run without the part and your only source of transportation is that machine leaves an individual very limited. The sled dogs can be fed different variations of feed. Sled dogs are typical husky’s which have a large fur coat that allows for them to survive in the harsh climate conditions.

The horse meat market is still relevant in Canada today. Although many countries have gone away from the horse slaughter houses that is not the case here. In an article by Canadian Horse Defense Coalition, “the horse meat market in 2014 was estimated to be an $80 million dollar industry in Canada alone” (2015). All though this industry is not the largest form of agriculture it is important to mention because since the horse slaughter horses have been shut down in the United States many horses from the United States, end up being imported into Canada for slaughter. As of recently there are some reports of the amount of horses being slaughter is slowly decreasing. There are some laws associated with horse meat consumption, one law states that the horse meat must be clearly labeled so the consumer knows what they are buying. One also cannot say the meat is beef when it is really horse meat there is a penalty for doing such thing. Many people believe horses should be considered as companion animals and should not be slaughtered for meat. Some of the Canadians are pushing for the country to close down the horse slaughter houses.

The beef industry is the second largest in terms of meat production in the country. According to UFCW Canada, about 1.17 metric million tons of beef was produced in 2016 (2018). The numbers of beef production throughout the years have stayed fairly constant and the rate of growth has been a small number. One of the reasons why the beef production has remained constant and not rising very much over the years is because there have been some social issues associated with eating red meat. Another reason why the beef production has not increased is because Canadian cattle producers have been using feedlots for many years which already have a high rate of efficiency. The advanced feeding techniques made it so the cattle could have a high rate of gain which in turn allows for the farmers to make more money in a less amount of time and keeps costs lower.

The most popular breed of beef cattle is Angus which is also the most popular breed in the United States. One of the reasons the Angus breed is popular is because the size of cow is smaller than some of the larger breeds. The most important reason that a lot of farmers use the Angus influenced breed is because the color of the cows udders. The color of udder plays a huge role in a cow’s ability to survive in the winter season because snow has a high albedo which in other words is when sunlight is reflected from the snow. When the sunlight is reflected from the snow it can cause a cow’s udder to get sunburnt and if the cows udder is white it can cause some discomfort or serious harm. The Angus breed has the advantage because their udder color is generally a darker color which is not as susceptible to sunburns. Although there are many different breeds of cattle raised in Canada the main determining factor is the farmer’s preference on the breed.

When it comes to meat consumption of beef products Canadian consumes more beef than pork which produces the most. Although the production amount of beef is lower than pork, many of the pork produced is exported to other countries. The exporting of beef to other countries is lower compared to other countries globally. A reason why the beef exports are low is because the bulk of the meat produced is staying the country and being consumed rather than being exported.

One common issue that comes up with beef and sheep production is the predation of animals by predators. Some of these predators include wolves, cougars, bears and coyotes. These predators not only harm cattle and sheep but they can also kill them. Wolves especially are hard to protect animals from because they are extremely smart and will kill an animal for sport. According to Lorraine Stevenson, some ranchers have recorded their losses from predators to be up to 10% of their herds and this not include the stress from predators which can cause cows to abort calves early (2018). Although the percentage seems fairly low it something that the producers have little control over the situation because in some years, they might lose more animals than previous years and in other years their loss of animals due to predators could be fewer. If a high amount of livestock are getting killed by predator it could start to have a financial burden on the farmers. It is really hard to solve the problem of predators without affecting the ecosystem. There are however suggested management plan to limit the amount of contact these animals have with the predators. When it comes to protecting sheep from predators some people use dogs, but the dogs are only useful for coyote control because the larger predators are often not deterred from the guardian dogs.

While researching the sheep industry it appeared to have limited data which made the research very time consuming. According to a record done by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, there is an estimated one million dollar revenue from exports and the price of lamb rose about 32% and the average size of flocks decreased by 1.2% in 2013 (2014). The sheep numbers are a lot lower than expected because Canada is such large country. Many of the people enjoy eating lamb and some people believe more sheep are imported into the country what is currently produced. Although there are many sheep producers the production is fairly low. Since the lamb prices have increased that could be because of the demand by the consumer. Canada also has a problem with scrapie’s which can be difficult to control because once an animal is infected with the disease they must be destroyed.

The pork industry is by far the largest meat producing industry in the country. The form of pork production is heavily industrialized. Canadians export a majority of their meat because they are one of the top countries with high production. The UFCW Canada show data which stated the Canadian pork production is about 2.13 metric tons in 2016 (2018). Pork is by far the most produced in the country compared to the other forms of meat production. Unlikely many countries which consist of small backyard hog operations, most of the Canada’s pork comes from larger farming operations where the hogs are kept inside. There are many different breeds of pigs used in production. The Canadian’s have been successful in their breeding operations because they are known for their good genetics which has led to high pork exports.

The hogs are raised in a temperature controlled environment where the temperature is constant year round regardless of what the outside weather is like. Farrowing to finish operations are by far the most used system throughout Canada. There are many advantages to the farrowing to finish system because the hogs never have to leave the farm until being butchered because the risk of a biosecurity complications are lowered. They also keep the sows in a farrowing crate with the piglets until the piglets are weaned. The farrowing crates allow for the mortality rates of the piglets to be greatly reduced which allows for higher production. Also the majority of pork operations are family own which keeps the tradition of family farming alive. The hog operations range in many different sizes some are small while others are large operations. The typical hog operation runs about at an hundred head but overall the farm size fluctuates all over the place depending on the location and where the feed is coming from.

Poultry is the third largest meat production industry in Canada but the consumption of poultry is the highest out of all the different types of meats. Since Canada is a well-developed country they have the technologies needed to greatly improve production. The broiler operations of Canada use some of the modern day technologies that allow for the chickens to grow fast and at an efficient rate as well. UFCW Canada Stated that around 1.15 metric tons of poultry in 2016 alone (2018). It was interesting to see that the lowest amount of meat produced was the consumed the highest. Poultry production is modernized similar to how hogs are raised. The poultry are kept in large barns which maintain temperature and manipulates the light. Biosecurity in chicken production is important as well because if a disease or virus gets in to a chicken house the whole population can be greatly affected.

Egg production in Canada is highly productive and efficient the farmers can produce a large amount of eggs from one chicken. Some of the breeds used for egg production includes the Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire breeds which often crossed together for a higher production rate. According to Joryce Chepkemoi, a single laying chicken are able to produce around 300 to 400 eggs in a little over a year time span and for every 3.41 pounds of feed the chicken is able to produce a dozen of eggs (2017). The fact that an animal can almost produce an egg a day is amazing. The feeding efficiency is huge they can feed these animals relatively low amounts of feed and still produce a lot. By knowing the exact amount of feed to feed poultry cuts down on the amount of waste which in turn saves the producer money and makes them more efficient. In the modern era of farming, farmers must know the definition of sustainability and by having the ability to cut down on costs while still getting similar prices allows for them to have higher margins.

What makes Canada’s egg production unique is that not all the farms are the same size they all differ in size. Joryce Chepkemoi also stated in 2015 there were about one thousand chicken farms which ranged from a couple hundred bird towards upwards of 400,000 bird operations (2017). The larger chicken houses are it allows for more birds to be produced with less inputs because of feed efficiency.

When discussing production of agriculture and natural resources, logging has to be one of the industries to be discussed. Logging is one of the biggest industries in Canada alone. The website Index Mundi stated, about 34.1% of the land in Canada is considered forest ground (2018). Since the majority of land is not suitable for farming, there begins to be an abundance in timberland. Timberland is defined as land which consists of trees that can be harvested for lumber. Although some people use the method of harvesting all of the trees and creating agricultural land with that former timberland the climate makes it a challenge to complete. Canada has an abundance of forest land which allows for many different forms of logging to take place which will hopefully not have too big of an environmentally impact.

Grain production is relatively limited because the amount of available farmland is somewhat limited. According the website Index Mundi, the land use break down goes as follows 6.8% of land is used for agricultural land of that 6.8%, 4.7% is arable land, 1.6% is pasture ground, and 0.5% are considered permanent cropping systems (2018). It’s crazy to think of Canada having such a large mass and there being a very limited amount of farmable land. The amount of land designated for pasture land is very small as well which led to looking into different methods of grazing like grazing animals in mountain regions. Cereal crops like wheat and barley are amount the most popular commodities. In some cropping systems they grow spring wheat which is planted in the early spring and then is harvested in the late summer. They also use the technique of summer fallow which is when the land is left bare without it getting planted. Many of the Canadian farmers utilize cropping rotations on their farming practices. Cropping rotations allows for a farmer to grow many different varieties of crops instead of being a monoculture. Another different type of crop grown are pulse crops which are also known as legumes. The top three crops grown in Canada include wheat, corn, and canola. These three crops have relatively high input costs associated with them because the soil needs to be fertilized and the crops must be sprayed for pests which might include either weeds, bugs, or fungal diseases. Canada uses some of the best technology on the market for precision agriculture. Some of the newest forms of automated tractors come from Canada and are currently being testing to see if its sustainable.

In closing Canada has a diverse source of agriculture which is unlikely any other country in the world. The fur farming is a technique which not really advertised at all and it was interesting to see a system used to raise these animals for fur. I would have never guessed that Canada had a high pork production system. Although Canada covers a large land mass the surprising fact was learning that very little of the land is suitable for agricultural practices. The fact that Canada still has the horse slaughter house demonstrates how diverse Canada animal agriculture is. Canada follows the world’s trend of meat consumption with beef, pork and poultry being the most popular. Canada is a technology advanced country and it has made their production relatively high as well as efficient. Overall the diversity of Canadian agriculture allows for more diverse products to be available for their citizens.

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Canada Diverse Agriculture. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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