Cattle Talk is a glossary of terms commonly used by people who work with cattle
backfat--fat thickness measured at the 12th rib.
backgrounder--see feeder cattle.
balance--the harmonious relationship of all body parts, blended for symmetry and pleasing appearance. A steer that
is poorly developed in the hindquarter lacks balance.
Bang's disease--see brucellosis.
barren--a sterile female.
bovine--referring to all cattle.
bred--a pregnant female; for example, a "bred cow" is one that is definitely in calf, or pregnant. Also refers to
the mating process. For example, "She was bred (mated) on April 10."
breed--animals of like characteristics, such as color and type, similar to those of parents and past
breed character--features or characteristics that distinguish one breed from another. An animal is said to possess
breed character when it has many of the characteristics peculiar to one breed.
breeder--the owner of the dam of a calf at the time she was mated.
breeding--the act of mating a heifer or cow with a bull; or, artificial insemination.
brisket--the breast or lower chest.
brucellosis (Bang's disease)--contagious abortion.
bull--an uncastrated male of any age.
buller--a cow in continuous heat due to cystic ovaries or other physical defects.
bulling--a cow in heat; apparent when a cow tries to ride other cows or stands while others try to ride her.
calf--a young animal of either sex, under 1 year of age.
calving--the time when a cow gives birth to a calf.
carcass--the animal after slaughter, with head, hide, internal organs, and legs below the knee or hocks
castrate--to remove the testes.
characteristic--a physical or behavioral trait in an animal.
chuck--the major wholesale cut in the forequarter of a beef carcass.
close breeding--line breeding; mating of related animals.
cod--the scrotum of a castrated male; fills with fat as the animal finishes.
commercial breeding--breeding of grade animals, generally to produce market beef.
conceive--to become pregnant.
concentrates--feeds low in fiber and high in energy or protein; for example, grain is a concentrate.
conception--the union of ovum and sperm; the beginning of a new individual.
condition--the degree of fatness in animals.
conformation--the general structure and shape of an animal.
corn silage--whole green corn plants that have been chopped and fermented in an airtight silo.
cow hocked--hind legs bowed in at the hocks as viewed from the rear.
cows--female cattle that have had one or more calves.
creep feeding--providing a calf with feed as a supplement to its mother's milk and pasture.
crop--the depression behind the shoulder of a cow; or, an ear mark.
crossbred--an animal that results from mating two or more different breeds.
cryptorchid--a male bovine with one or both testes undescended.
cull--to eliminate an animal from a herd.
cutability--carcass cutout value, or yield of salable meat. Sometimes called "yield grade" by USDA meat
dam--the mother of a calf.
dehorning--the act of removing horns from cattle.
dewlap--a hanging fold of skin under the neck or above the brisket.
digestion--the process of breaking down feeds into nutrients in the stomach and intestinal tract; used by the
animal's body for growth and reproduction.
docile--able to be quiet and gentle, especially under strange conditions.
double muscling--a misnomer for an undesirable, genetically controlled enlargement of all muscles in the animal's
body (gross muscular hyperplasia). An animal with this condition has bulging muscles in the round and shoulder,
tailhead set forward, and shallow body.
dropped--born; gave birth to.
dwarf--an abnormally small, short-legged, early-maturing calf of about 700 pounds mature weight. Dwarfs usually do