Glossary of Beef Terms

This is a very broad overview of terms I use on the Ranch. I will add more as I think of them.

A.I. – artificial insemination

Average daily gain – pounds of liveweight gained per day

Balling gun – a tool used to discharge pills into the animal’s throat.

Birth weight – the weight of the calf taken within the first 24 hours of birth

Birth weight EPD – The expected average increase of decrease in birth weight of a bull’s calves when compared with other bulls in the same sire summary.

Bloat – abnormal conditions characterized by a distention of the rumen, usually seen on the left side, due to the accumulation of gas.

Bloom – a haircoat that has luster that gives the appearance of a healthy animal.

Bolus – a large pill for treating cattle; you use a balling gun to administer.

Bos indicus – zebu (humped) cattle, including the Brahman breed. They tolerate heat and insects well.

Bos Taurus – European breads that tolerate the cold, such as Hereford, angus.

Brand – a permanent identification of cattle usually made on the hide with a hot iron or freeze brand.

Bred – a cow that has mated with a bull and is pregnant.

Brucellosis – a contagious bacterial disease that results in abortions; also can be called bang’s disease.

Bull –  a male bovine, usually of breeding age.

Bulling – when a cow is in heat or estrus.

Calf – a young male or female bovine under 1 year of age.

Calve – to give birth.

Castrate – to remove the testicles

Cod – scrotal area of a steer remaining after castration.

Colostrum – the first milk given by a female cow following the delivery of a calf. It is high in antibodies that protect the calf from invading microorganisms.

Conditioning – Treatment of cattle by vaccination and other means prior to putting them in a feedlot.

Cow – an adult female

Cow/calf operation – a segment of the cattle industry that manages and produces weaned calves.

Crossbred – animal produced by crossing two different breeds, for example a Brahman and Angus is a Brangus.

Cud – bolus of feed that cattle regurgitate.

Cull – to eliminate one or more animals from your herd.

Dewlap – the flap of loose skin under the chin and neck of cattle.

Direct sales – selling cattle directly to one ranch to another, from ranch to feedlot, or ranch to packer.

Dressed beef – carcasses from cattle.

Ear mark – a method of permanent identification by which slits or notches are placed in the ear.

Ear tag – a method of identification by which a numbered, lettered, or colored tag is placed in the ear, like an earring.

EPD – expected progeny difference, one-half of the breeding value in the sire or dam. The difference in expected performance of future progeny of a sire, when compared with that expected from future progeny of bulls in the same sire summary.

Embryo transfer – transfer of fertilized egg(s) from donor female to one or more recipient females.

Eviscerate – the removal of internal organs during the slaughter process.

Feed bunk – trough or container used to feed cattle.

Feeder – Cattle that need further feeding prior to slaughter or a producer that feeds cattle.

Feedlot – a segment of the industry in which cattle are fed grain and other concentrates for usually 90-120 days then slaughtered.

Finish – Degree of fatness of an animal or the completion of the last feeding phase of slaughter cattle.

Finished cattle – Fed cattle ready for slaughter.

Freemartin – female born twin to a bull (usually these heifers will never conceive).

Grass tetany – Disease of cattle marked by staggering, convulsions, coma, and death that is caused by a mineral imbalance (magnesium) while grazing lush pasture.

Heifer – a young cow, one that has never had a calf.

Hot carcass weight – the weight of the carcass just prior to chilling.

Ionphore – antibiotic the enhances feed efficiency by changing microbial fermentation in the rumen.

Liver flukes – parasitic flatworm in the liver.

Marbling – flecks of intramuscular fat distributed in muscle tissue.

Mastitis – inflammation of the udder.

Natural beef- beef that has not been fed growth stimulates or antibiotics.

Open – non pregnant females

Offal – the organs and tissue removed from the cattle during the slaughter process

Pasture rotation – the rotation of animals from one pasture or field to another so that a field or pasture have no livestock grazing on them during a certain period of time.

Pay weight – the actual weight for which payment of the cattle is made. Usually the actual weight minus the shrink.

Polled – naturally hornless

Preconditioning – preparations of feeder calves for selling and shipping, can include vaccinations, castration, training the calves to eat from a feeder or drink from a trough.

Primal cuts – the wholesale cuts of beef. It can include: round, loin, flank, rib, chuck, brisket, plate and shank.

Progeny – offspring, calves

Quality Grades – grades used in the beef industry to rate the beef; for example – prime, choice, select.

Ration – the feed fed to an animal in a 24 hour period

Replacement heifers – heifers, usually between the ages of 10 – 16 months, that are kept to replace old cows in the breeding program.

Ruminant – a mammal whose stomach has four parts – rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum Cattle, sheep, goats, and elk are some examples.

Scours – profuse, watery diarrhea from the intestines.

Seedstock – breeding animals like bulls. Used interchangeably with purebred.

Shrink – loss of weight. Usually expressed in percentage of liveweight to account for fill (food and water). It is usually around 3 to 4%.

Steer – a male that has been castrated before puberty

Subcutaneous – an injection below the skin of an animal.

Tagging- when we place tags in the ears of the cattle for identification purposes.

Vaccination – when we administer a vaccine or shot.

Weaner – a calf that has been weaned or is near weaning age.

Weaning weight – the weight of the calf when it is removed from the cow.

White muscle disease – muscular disease caused by a deficiency of selenium or vitamin E.

Yearling – animals that are one year old.

10 Comments

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10 Responses to Glossary of Beef Terms

  1. Cool post Meg! Always fun to learn about areas of ag I’m not familiar with. Actually, I knew quite a bit of those terms!

  2. Interesting, we have most of these terms back home in Ireland, but they have slightly different meanings….

    A.I.: Obviously a term used by computer scientist to describe mastrubation

    Balling gun: Badly aimed Paintball Gun

    Bloat: Usually happens after eating too much spicy food. Beware of follow up “Discharge”.

    Brand: The reason people choose an I-phone over an Andriod based phone

    Bred: What you put steak slices, cheese, fried onions and BBQ sauce on to make a sandwhich.

    Bull: Half of these terms

    Calve: The part you check out if she’s wearing a skirt

    Castrate: To get married

    Cow: You wife if she gets her own way or you lose an argument

    Finish: Nice women with funny accents

    Freemartin: What you do if your friend Martin is in jail

    Open: The state every pub should be in!

    Steer: What older drivers on the road can’t seem to do.

    Tagging: Placing funny little “#” symbols in front of key words

    Weaner: A type of small hot dog, or the part of a man who isn’t the most endowed

  3. Hey Megan, heads up. Just thought I’d let ya know I’m sharing/linking to this post soon in my blog. Hope ya get a several views from it.

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