The numbers in the USDA’s January 1 cattle-inventory report, released on January 27, suggest continued short supplies and high prices for calves and feeder cattle. The report also hints, however, that the trend toward herd reduction could be starting to turn around.

The report shows all cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2012 totaled 90.8 million head, 2 percent below the 92.7 million on January 1, 2011. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since 1952, when USDA recorded a total of 88.1 million head.