Canadian Agriculture at a Glance
Other livestock and poultry in Canada

by Mitra Rostami

Release date: November 20, 2017

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Horses, donkeys and ducks: identifying key trends in other livestock and poultry

While Canadian livestock and poultry often consist of more traditional animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys, Canadian farms raise a host of other livestock and poultry. These belong to the “other livestock” and “other poultry” categories.

The Census of Agriculture captures only animals located on census farms. Thus, it does not include all livestock and poultry in the country. Data users should be aware that census data may underreport the quantities of other livestock and other poultry.

Other livestock

In 2016, 45,925 agricultural operations reported having at least one type of other livestock as part of their operations. This represents 23.7% of farms in Canada.

While some farms keep livestock for farm work or for predator control, other farms raise livestock to diversify farm income and meet the demands of niche markets. Although 45,925 farms reported having at least one type of other livestock, other livestock was the predominant type of production—based on gross farm receipts—of only 18,584 farms.

Table 1
Number of agricultural operations raising other livestock, by farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of agricultural operations raising other livestock. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Number of agricultural operations (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Number of agricultural operations
Goat 867
Horse and other equine 10,507
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit 284
Animal combination 5,749
All other miscellaneous animal 1,177
All farm types 193,492

On average, “other livestock” farm types tend to fall into lower receipts classes. In 2016, 17.7% of all farms reported gross farm receipts below $10,000. The proportion of farms in this receipts class was higher for the “other livestock” farm types (Table 2).

Table 2
Percentage of agricultural operations raising other livestock with gross farm receipts below $10,000, by farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of agricultural operations raising other livestock with gross farm receipts below $10. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Percentage of agricultural operations with gross receipts below $10,000 (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Percentage of agricultural operations with gross receipts below $10,000
Goat 41.3
Horse and other equine 43.2
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit 20.8
Animal combination 26.7
All other miscellaneous animal 30.8
All farm types 17.7

In addition, a higher proportion of “other livestock” farm operators reported working off their farms, compared with farm operators as a whole. In 2016, 44.4% of all operators reported working off the farm. Apart from fur-bearing animal and rabbit type farms, the proportion of operators who worked off the farm was higher on “other livestock” farms (Table 3).

Table 3
Percentage of farm operators reporting off-farm work, by farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of farm operators reporting off-farm work. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Percentage of farm operators who report off-farm work (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Percentage of farm operators who report off-farm work
Goat 57.2
Horse and other equine 59.8
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit 39.7
Animal combination 53.0
All other miscellaneous animal 60.0
All farm types 44.4

Similarly, when it comes to on-farm work, a smaller proportion of “other livestock” operators than of farm operators as a whole reported more than 40 hours per week. In 2016, 37.5% of all farm operators reported working more than 40 hours per week on their farms. With the exception of fur-bearing animal and rabbit type farms, the proportion of “other livestock” operators who worked more than 40 hours per week on the farm was lower (Table 4). On horse and other equine type farms, 19.6% of operators worked more than 40 hours per week on the farm, while 45.1% worked less than 20 hours per week on the farm.

Table 4
Percentage of farm operators reporting more than 40 hours per week of on-farm work, by farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of farm operators reporting more than 40 hours per week of on-farm work. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Percentage of farm operators reporting more than 40 hours per week of on-farm work (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Percentage of farm operators reporting more than 40 hours per week of on-farm work
Goat 30.6
Horse and other equine 19.6
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit 47.3
Animal combination 35.1
All other miscellaneous animal 21.8
All farm types 37.5

“Other livestock” farm types tend, on average, to have more female-only operations than all farm types as a whole. In 2016, 7.2% of all farm operations had exclusively female operators, with 60.1% of operations being male-only. While all “other livestock” farm types had a greater proportion of female-only operations, horse and other equine type farms were by far the most likely to have female-only operations. Of the 10,507 horse and other equine type farms (which had 15,516 operators), 19.1% had female operators exclusively, 36.6% had only male operators, and 44.2% had both male operators and female operators.

Table 5
Percentage of agricultural operations, by sex of operators and farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of agricultural operations. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Male only, Female only and Male and female, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Male only Female only Male and female
percent
Goat 34.4 15.1 50.5
Horse and other equine 36.6 19.1 44.2
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit 58.8 7.7 33.5
Animal combination 45.9 8.4 45.7
All other miscellaneous animal 48.1 10.5 41.5
All farm types 60.1 7.2 32.7

Horses and ponies Note 1

Horse and other equine type farms were the most prevalent “other livestock” farm type, with 10,507 farms classified in this category based on the value of their principal activity.

Horses and ponies were the most commonly reported type of other livestock, both in number of animals and in number of farms reporting. In 2016, 39,164 agricultural operations reported horses or ponies, a 17.5% decrease from 2011. In the same period, the number of horses and ponies dropped 25.7% to 291,561 head. Horses are commonly considered luxury items, and given the increase in associated costs, the number of horses has declined.

The largest proportion of agricultural operations reporting horses but not classified as horse or other equine type farms were farms for beef and feedlot type farms.

Donkeys

Like horses, donkeys and mules were reported across farm types, particularly in beef and feedlot type farms, and in horse and other equine type farms. Donkeys and mules are often intended to protect flocks of sheep and, occasionally, even herds of cattle. In some cases, they may still be used to help with work on the farm.

While the highest proportion of donkeys and mules were found on horse and other equine type farms (27.8%), one-quarter (25.1%) were found on farms for beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots, and 2.4% on sheep farming operations. In 2016, 3,967 farms reported having donkeys and mules in Canada, for a total of 8,832 donkeys and mules. This is a 20.0% decline from 11,041 donkeys and mules in 2011.

Data table for Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1
Chart 1
Total agricultural operations reporting donkeys and number of donkeys, by farm type, Canada, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Total agricultural operations reporting donkeys and number of donkeys. The information is grouped by Farm type (appearing as row headers), Number of agricultural operations reporting donkeys and Number of donkeys, calculated using (number) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Farm type Number of agricultural operations reporting donkeys Number of donkeys
(number)
Beef and feedlots 1,074 2,218
Horse and other equine 867 2,456
Animal combination 616 1,364
Hay 370 736
Other grain 234 464
All other miscellaneous crop 149 346
Sheep 130 216

Other animals

Less prevalent livestock, such as rabbits, elk, llamas and alpacas, and deer, all saw a decrease in the number of animals reported in the 2016 Census, compared with the 2011 Census (Chart 2).

In 2016, the majority of deer (58.1%) were reported in Quebec. Alberta and Saskatchewan accounted for most reported elk, with a combined 85.3% of animals. Over 90.0% of rabbits were reported in Ontario and Quebec.

Data table for Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2
Chart 2
Total number of animals, by type of livestock, Canada, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Total number of animals 2011 and 2016, calculated using (number of animals) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
2011 2016
(number of animals)
Deer 20,939 15,285
Llamas and alpacas 31,499 20,927
Elk 31,112 22,058
Rabbits 184,935 172,489

Other poultry

In 2016, 5,223 agricultural operations reported having at least one type of other poultry as part of their operations. This represents 2.7% of farms in Canada, a slight increase from 2.2% of farms in 2011. In 2016, 50 farms accounted for four-fifths of the 3 million birds reported in other poultry.

Ducks

Ducks were the most commonly reported type of other poultry, both in number of birds and in number of farms reporting. In 2016, 2,862 agricultural operations reported ducks, a 24.8% increase from 2011. The number of ducks in Canada increased 32.2% to 1.7 million birds.

The United States accounted for 95.4% of Canada’s duck meat exports in 2016 and saw a 61.0% increase in quantity since 2012. Exports to Japan also jumped rapidly in the first half of 2017, exceeding four times the quantity exported in all of 2016. Mexico, which recently reopened its borders to Canadian poultry, saw an increase in duck meat exports in the first half of 2017 as well.Note 2

The increase in the number of ducks was largely driven by Ontario and Quebec. In these two provinces, the number of ducks increased 44.7% to 1.4 million, representing 80.8% of all ducks in Canada in 2016. The top 10 farms reporting ducks in Canada accounted for two-thirds of all reported ducks.

Other

Other types of poultry saw varying changes in the number of birds reported in 2011 and 2016. While the number of geese and quail decreased, the number of pheasants and partridge increased at the national level in the five-year period.

Data table for Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3
Chart 3
Total number of birds, by type of poultry, Canada, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Total number of birds 2011 and 2016, calculated using (number of birds) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
2011 2016
(number of birds)
Geese 114,282 87,023
Quail 1,510,818 525,400
Pheasants 131,814 204,184
Partridge 100,954 109,415
Ducks 1,316,307 1,739,995

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Terms

Other livestock includes all livestock kept on agricultural operations except cattle, pigs or sheep—for example, horses, donkeys, fox, wild boars and chinchillas.

Other poultry includes all poultry kept on agricultural operations except pullets, hens, turkeys, broilers, roasters and Cornish chickens—for example, geese, ducks, ostriches, pheasants and emus.

Farm type: Farm type is established through a procedure that classifies each census farm according to the predominant type of production. This is done by estimating the potential receipts from the inventories of crops and livestock reported on the questionnaire and determining the product or group of products that makes up the majority of the estimated receipts. For example, a census farm with total potential receipts of 60% from hogs, 20% from beef cattle and 20% from wheat would be classified as a hog and pig farm. The farm types presented in this document are based on the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Census farm: An operation is considered a census farm (agricultural operation) if it produces at least one of the following products intended for sale:

  • Crops: hay, field crops, tree fruits or nuts, berries or grapes, vegetables, seed
  • Livestock: cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, game animals, other livestock
  • Poultry: hens, chickens, turkeys, chicks, game birds, other poultry
  • Animal products: milk or cream, eggs, wool, furs, meat
  • Other agricultural products: Christmas trees, sod, greenhouse or nursery products, mushrooms, honey or bees, maple syrup and its products.

The data for Yukon and the Northwest Territories are not included in the national totals because of the different definition of agricultural operation in those territories and because of confidentiality constraints.

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