Present Trends

Bison Industry Continues to Evolve

The 2016 census reported 119,314 bison on 975 Canadian farms and ranches. This reflects an annual compounded growth rate of almost 5.0% since the bison census was first taken in 1996 when 42,235 bison were reported on 745 farms. The 2016 bison census reported a 4.6% decline in bison numbers since 2011 when 125,142 bison were reported on Canadian farms and ranches. All provinces reported a decline in bison numbers except for Saskatchewan where bison numbers increased by 2.8%.

Bison Population

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016 % Change

from 2011

British Columbia

6,245

8,964

12,656

9,206

6,504

-29.4%

Alberta

22,782

79,821

97,366

57,483

54,907

-4.48%

Saskatchewan

7,006

34,781

57,395

39,334

40,418

+2.75%

Manitoba

4,621

13,473

19,609

14,116

14,025

-0.06%

Ontario

2,344

3,755

4,106

2,320

1,843

-20.56%

Quebec

2,236

4,192

4,322

2,380

1,538

-35-38%

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

79

-

National

45,235

144,950

195,728

125,142

119,314

-4.66%

There were 975 bison farms and ranches that reported bison in 2016 compared to 1,211 bison farms and ranches reported in 2011 - a decline of 19.5%. All provinces reported a decline in bison producers.


Farms and Ranches Reporting Bison

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016
% Change from 2011

British Columbia

57

98

121

71

55

-22.5%

Alberta

334

950

869

571

445

-22.06%

Saskatchewan

175

562

597

352

303

-13.9%

Manitoba

73

157

166

108

86

-20.4%

Ontario

46

58

71

60

49

-18.3%

Quebec

56

58

69

45

34

-24.4

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

3

2

2

-

National

745

1,887

1,898

1,211

975

-19.5%

The average herd size increased by 18.5% to 122 head in 2016 compared to 103 in 2011. Herd size increased by about 20% in the three Prairie Provinces while all other provinces saw declines. A majority of the producers and bison are concentrated in the west with 91.2% of the producers and 97.1% of the bison being in the four western provinces.


Average Herd Size

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016 % Change

from 2011

British Columbia

110

91

105

130

118

-9.23%

Alberta

68

84

112

101

123

+21.78%

Saskatchewan

40

62

96

112

133

+18.75%

Manitoba

63

86

118

131

163

+24.43%

Ontario

51

65

58

39

38

-2.56%

Quebec

40

72

63

53

29

-40.68%

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

-

National

61

77

103

103

122

+18.45%

Note: Census data is collected in mid-May during the bison calving period and it is unlikely that the 2016 calves are included in the census. With an adjustment for calves born and adjustments for exports and federal and provincial harvesting for the remained of the year it is estimated that the bison herd as of January 1, 2017 just over 145,000 in Canada.


Bison Disposition Data

Bison Slaughter and Export Statistics*

Year

Federally

Inspected Slaughter

Provincially

Inspected Slaughter

Live Exports

Total Bison

Disposition

2002

17,579

5,189

2,306

25,074

2003

23,483

6,216

991

30,690

2004

28,276

6,594

0

34,870

2005

22,504

7,056

3,513

33,075

2006

19,040

6,595

13,255

38,890

2007

19,731

6,248

18,801

44,780

2008

19,334

4,652

25,884

49,870

2009

19.097

4,068

25,118

48,283

2010

15,602

3,433

20,973

40,008

2011

10,504

2,544

14,465

27,513

2012

11,328

2,259

14,480

28,067

2013

11,586

2,820

14,100

28,506

2014

11,854

2,517

19,876

34,247

2015

12,027

2,159

27,957

42,143

2016

9,993

1,598

22,526

34,117

*Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Federally Inspected Bison Harvested

The above table indicates that Canadian bison harvest increased substantially after the discovery of BSE in a beef cow in 2004. Post BSE, as the border restrictions were removed federal harvesting declined and was stable 2006- 2009. After that point federal slaughter declines as a greater proportion of the animals were exported to the U.S. markets.


Provincially Inspected Slaughter

Provincially inspected bison harvesting has been declining as federally harvested bison are made available to a larger market. Also a proportionately larger number of bison have been sold to premium markets in the U.S.


Live Bison Exports

After the restrictions related to BSE were slowly removed, live bison exports to the US reached a high in 2008. Since 2008, there had been a decline in live bison exports due to the reduced size of the bison herd. Live bison exports began to increase in 2014 due to the strong U.S. dollar. Exports declined in 2016 because of limited availability of animals for.


Bison Meat Exports, fresh or chilled (bone-in) – Kilograms

Bison meat exports from Canada have declined in most years since 2009 with a rebound in exports is 2015 and 2016 due in great part to the strong US dollar. This decline meat product exports is due in part to live animals from Canada being exported to the US, harvested there and then exported to other markets. Switzerland appears to have been the most consistent market with other markets being quite variable.


Canadian Fresh Meat Exports

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

United States

396,514

536,310

289,288

172,332

163,942

222,630

409,204

613,635

France

347,193

145,859

90,176

100,853

106,582

102,700

72,625

50,704

Mexico

-

-

18,137

0

0

Germany

30,915

6,184

3,452

1,618

4,133

0

0

0

Switzerland

43,790

61,045

43,620

39,789

61,053

44,806

56,372

62,815

Other

16,897

31,402

28,603

83,856

5,631

11,087

1,459

Total

835,309

780,700

455,139

335,797

419,566

393,904

549,288

728,613

Source: Statistics Canada


Bison Prices

Marketing live animals and meat to the domestic and global markets through the strategies developed by the industry has resulted in steady bison price increases with a level of stability between 2011 and 2014. In 2014 bison prices strengthened due to strong consumer demand and the strengthening of the U.S. dollar vis-à-vis the Canadian dollar. It is through these prices that profitability is resulting in herd expansion through growth in current herds as well as through new entrants.

Year

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Price per pound – Grade “A” Bulls

Hot Hanging Weight

$2.60

$3.20

$3.95

$3.90

$3.75

$4.10

$5.30

$6.10

Data collected by the Canadian Bison Association