Cattle Terminology is listing of many of the terms or lingo used in everyday
conversation within the beef cattle industry.
Accuracy (of selection)--Correlation between an animal's unknown actual breeding value and a
calculated estimated breeding value.
Adaptation -- Adaptation to a particular environment exists when an animal or breed has the ability
to survive, produce and reproduce within that environment at an acceptable level to the cattle producer.
Adaptive Trait -- An adaptive trait is one that contributes to an animal or a
breed's ability to survive and reproduce sustainably in a particular environment. Resistance to internal parasites
and heat tolerance are important adaptive traits in some environments but not in others.
Average daily gain (ADG)--Measurement of daily body weight change in animal on a feed test. Most
bull tests are 140 or 160 days in length.
Adjusted weaning weight (WW)--An unshrunk, off-the-cow weight adjusted to 205 days of age and to a
mature dam age equivalence.
Adjusted yearling weight (YW)--An unshrunk weight adjusted to either 365, 452, or 550 days of age
and for age of dam.
Ad lib feeding--No limit placed on amount of feed intake. Self-feeding or allowing cattle to
consume feed on a free-choice basis.
Allele -- Alleles at a gene locus have different nucleotide sequences within the DNA. Because
different alleles may have different biological effects, they account for the genetic variation necessary for
response to selection. See also gene. Alleles may also described as alternate forms of genes. Because genes occur
in pairs in body cells, one gene of a pair may have one effect and another gene of that same pair (allele) may have
a different effect on the same trait.
Artificial insemination (A.I.)--The technique of placing semen from the male in the reproductive
tract of the female by means other than natural service. ~
Backcross--The mating of a two-breed crossbred offspring back to one of its parental breeds.
Example: A Hereford-Angus cross cow bred back to an Angus bull.
Beef carcass data service--A program whereby producers, for a fee, can receive carcass evaluation
data on their cattle by using a special "carcass data" eartag for their slaughter animals. See county extension
director breed representative, Beef Cattle Improvement Association representative, or area office of USDA meat
grading service for information.
Beef Improvement Federation (BIF)--A federation of organizations, businesses, and individuals
interested or involved in performance evaluation of beef cattle. The purposes of BIF are to bring about uniformity
of procedures, development of programs, cooperation among interested entities, education of its members and the
ultimate consumers of performance evaluation methods, and to build confidence of the beef industry in the
principles and potentials of performance testing.
Birth weight (BW)--The weight of a calf taken within 24 hours after birth. Heavy birth weights tend
to be correlated with calving problems, but the conformation of the calf and the cow are contributing factors.
Breeder--In most beef breed associations, the owner of the dam of a calf at the time she was mated
or bred to produce that calf.
Breeding Objective -- The precise goal of a beef cattle breeding program is known as its breeding
objective. An example would be “to produce high-quality, lean beef at the lowest possible cost.” The breeding
objective typically includes a listing of production and indicator traits that will be used as selection criteria.
Breeding objectives vary among enterprises because of differences in resources, environments, markets and economic