(Reuters) - Canada's herds of cattle and hogs rose at January 1, turning around a long-term downsizing trend on the strength of high prices.
Cattle ranchers benefited from prices rising throughout 2011, while hog prices reached a seven-year high in the second half of the year, Statistics Canada said on Monday.
Canada is the world's third-largest exporter of beef and pork.
Livestock farmers downsized their herds in recent years due to a combination of factors including a strong Canadian dollar and rising feed grain costs.
The Canadian cattle herd edged up 0.5 percent to 12.5 million head, marking the first year-over-year increase in seven years. The inventory of beef replacement heifers rose 4.3 percent to 554,300 head, indicating ranchers are starting to replenish their herds, the government statistical agency said.
Hog inventories climbed 1.1 percent to 12 million head on January 1, marking the first time the herd has risen in consecutive years since 2006.
However, the hog breeding herd dipped slightly to 1.3 million sows and gilts, the lowest level since 1999.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Andrea Ricci