Cattle and pigs aren't the only animals found on Canadian farms, but Statistics Canada says some alternative species that gained ground in last couple of decades have lost favour to conventional animals. That said, the numbers of domestic bison are way up. So are llamas and alpacas, which will please my kids, who are avowed alpaca fans. Here's the report from Statistics Canada:    

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Alternative livestock on Canadian farms

1981 to 2006

Canadian farmers appear to have lost some of their enthusiasm for raising non-traditional forms of livestock, according to a new publication based on data from the 2006 Census of Agriculture.

The publication summarizes information on 12 of such species from censuses between 1981 and 2006. It covers the number of animals and farms reporting, average number per holding, and percentage changes from period to period.

During the 1990s, many of these species expanded rapidly, driving up breeding stock values. In the early 2000s, however, some of these populations declined, while some held their own. Species that declined did so because of production problems or in some cases, lack of consumer acceptance for their products.

For example, the number of ostriches, emus and rheas grew substantially in the 1990s, but by 2006, they had declined sharply.

Similarly, the number of goats on Canadian farms more than doubled between 1986 and 2001. However, by 2006, the number had fallen 14% to an estimated 177,700.

During the past five years, the number of wild boars has plunged 37% to just under 21,000.

On the other hand, the most consistent growth has occurred in the number of bison, an indigenous species. Farmers reported an estimated 195,700 bison in 2006, up 35% from 2001. The number of llamas and alpacas rose 23% to around 31,700.

For the past five census periods, the most popular alternative large livestock on farms remained horses and ponies, whether kept for work, breeding or recreation. Between 2001 and 2006, their numbers nationwide edged down 1% to about 454,000, but the shifts varied widely from province to province.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3438.

The publication Alternative Livestock on Canadian Farms (23-502-XIE, free) is now available. From the Publications module or our website under Free internet publications, choose Agriculture.