Hay producers marketing to the beef industry will find there are fewer mouths to feed in 2012, according to the Jan. 1 Cattle report released by USDA on Jan. 27.

The report shows that the number of cattle and calves in the U.S. as of the first of the year totaled 90.8 million head. That’s 2% below the 92.7 million head of Jan 1, 2011, and the lowest Jan. 1 inventory of all U.S. cattle and calves since the 88.1 million on hand in 1952.

The report also estimated the 2011 calf crop at 35.3 million head, down 1% from the 2010 figure and the smallest calf crop since 1950. U.S. Milk cow numbers, according to the report, totaled 9.2 million, up 1% compared to Jan. 1, 2011.