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Beef and Dairy Header

As of 1997, there were 592 beef producing farms on the Island. Most beef operations on the Island have been part of mixed family farms for a long time, but increasing numbers of farms are beginning to specialize in beef. The feedlot industry is the most developed sector of the Island beef industry, thanks in large part to our excellent soil quality—our grain producers grow high-quality forage and our thriving potato industry provides an abundant supply of cull potatoes for finishing feeder cattle. The Island’s feedlot industry depends on local dairy and beef calves as well as calves brought in from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Figures fluctuate from year to year due to changes in supply and prices for beef, but in 1990, it was said that Island beef producers annually sent about 35,000 head of cattle for slaughter.

The cow and calf industry is comprised of purebred and commercial productions. Island purebred beef producers are reputed for their genetically superior breeding stock. Commercial cow and calf farmers raise calves from spring birth until fall weaning. These calves are then sold to feedlots or remain on the farm to grow and fatten out until they are slaughtered. The most popularly farmed Beef Cattlecattle are of traditional British breeding which make excellent “maternal” brood cows. These are the Herefords, Aberdeen Angus, and Shorthorns. Continental, “exotic” breeds such as Simmental, Charolais, and Limousin are also quite popular, first coming to the Island in the 1970s. They are best known for their rapid growth.

Most animals, weighing 1,200 to 1,400 pounds, are sold to one of two federally inspected slaughterhouses: Garden Province Meats in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, or Hub Meat Packers in Moncton, New Brunswick.

HoltsteinDairy farming is a very stable and profitable agricultural activity in Prince Edward Island. It is second only to potatoes in generating farm revenue. In 1997, there were 337 dairy farms in the province. Various farms among this group produce fluid milk sold for drinking, cream used for making butter, and industrial milk that is processed to manufacture products such as evaporated milk, cheese, ice cream, and powdered milk. When it comes to milk production, Prince Edward Island is highly industrialized. Approximately 85 percent of the milk produced on the Island is processed into industrial milk products. In the other Maritime Provinces, by contrast, industrial milk represents 35 percent to 40 percent of total production.

Holstein CalvesThe most popular breeds of dairy cattle on the Island are Holsteins followed by Ayshires, Guernsey, Jersey, and Brown Swiss. Generally, Island farms supplying cream for butter are small operations where dairying is a sideline. Industrial and fluid milk producers tend to be engaged in larger, more intensive operations and are showing signs of increased revenue. Indeed, milk production per cow and overall quality and quantity is increasing while the total number of dairy operations is decreasing.

The dairy industry in Canada is highly regulated and Prince Edward Island’s portion of the national quota is administered and distributed among local farmers by the Prince Edward Island Milk Marketing Board.

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Potatoes | Fruits and Vegetables | Field Crops | Swine
Poultry and Eggs | Emerging Commodities | Beekeeping