Cattle Production/Management Glossary

More than 100 words from the Glossary of the second edition of Dr. Robert E. Taylorís
Beef Production and Management Decisions textbook
Source: (
Reprinted with permission of NCBA

animal unit

Common denominator for measuring animal feed requirements where one animal unit is equivalent to the feed requirement for a 1,000-lb mature beef cow.

animal unit month (AUM)

Amount of feed or forage required to maintain one animal unit (e.g., a 1,000-lb cow and calf) for one month.


Product produced by living organisms such as yeast that destroys or inhibits the growth of other organisms, especially bacteria.

artificial insemination (AI)

Placing semen into the female reproductive tract (usually the cervix or uterus) by means other than natural service.


Market for cattle through which an auctioneer sells cattle to the highest bidder.


See animal unit month.

average daily gain

Pounds of live weight gained per day.


Amount of fat over the animalís back, usually measured at the twelfth to thirteenth rib.


Growing program for feeder cattle from time calves are weaned until they are on a finishing ration in the feedlot.


Meat from cattle (bovine species) other than calves. Meat from calves is called veal.

beef belt

Area of the United States where commercial beef production, slaughtering, and processing are concentrated.

beef checkoff program

Beef Promotion and Research Act established in October 1986. Each time cattle are marketed, $1 per head is paid by the seller to the Beef Industry Council (BIC). Money is used in promotion, research, and education. Generates approximately $70 million per year.

biological type

Usually refers to size of cattle (large, medium or small), growth rate, milk production (high, medium, or low), and age at puberty.


Biological science when applied especially in genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology.

birth weight (BW or B.Wt.)

Weight of the calf taken within 24 hours of its birth.


Refers to a general family grouping of cattle.

boxed beef

Cuts of beef put in boxes for shipping from packing plant to retailers. These primal (round, loins, ribs, and chuck) and subprimal cuts are intermediate cuts between the carcass and retail cuts.


(1) Permanent identification of cattle, usually made on the hide with hot-iron or freeze branding. (2) Process of branding.

branded beef product

A specifically labeled product that is differentiated from commodity items by its brand name. Certified Angus beef is an example.

breakeven price

Volume of output required for revenue to equal the total of fixed and variable expenses.


Cattle of common origin and having characteristics that distinguish them from other groups within the same species.


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.

British breeds

Breeds of cattle, such as Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn, originating in Great Britain.


Contagious bacterial disease that results in abortion; also called Bangís disease.


Bovine male. The term usually denoted animals of breeding age.


Young bull, typically less than 20 months of age.


Product of considerably less value than the major product. For example, the hide and offal are by-products while beef is the major product.


Young male or female bovine animal under 1 year of age.

calf crop

Number or percentage of calves produced within a herd in a given year relative to the number of cows and heifers in the breeding herd.


Giving birth to a calf. Same as parturition.

case ready

Beef cuts received by the retailer that do not require further processing before they are put in the retail case for selling.

cash market price

Price that results when cattle go to market.


See beef checkoff program.


Wholesale cut (shoulder) of the beef carcass.


First milk given by a female following delivery of her calf. It is high in antibodies that protects the calf from invading microorganisms.

composite breed

Breed that has been formed by crossing two or more breeds.


Usually refers to the carcass composition of fat, lean, and bone.


Feed that is high in energy, low in fiber content, and highly digestible.


Treatment of cattle by vaccination and other means prior to putting them in the feedlot.

continental breed

See European breed.

cost of gain

Total of all costs divided by the total pounds gained; usually expressed on a per-pound basis.


Sexually mature female bovine animal that has usually produced a calf.

cow calf operation

Management unit that maintains a breeding herd and produces weaned calves.


Animal produced by crossing two or more breeds.


Mating animals from different breeds. Utilized to take advantage of hybrid vigor (heterosis) and breed complimentarity.


Bolus of feed that cattle regurgitate for further chewing.


To eliminate one or more animals from the breeding herd or flock.


Marketing term indicating how feedlots market fed cattle. If current, then feedlots market cattle on schedule. If feedlots are not current, then a backlog of cattle usually results and cattle prices are reduced.

custom feeding

Cattle feeders who provide facilities, labor, feed, and care as a service but they do not own the cattle.


Abbreviation for hundredweight (100 lb).

dressing percentage

Percentage of the live animal weight that becomes the carcass weight at slaughter. It is determined by dividing the carcass weight by the liveweight then multiplying by 100. Also referred to as yield.

dry (cow)

Refers to a nonlactating female.

ear tag

Method of identification by which a numbered, lettered, and/or colored tag is placed in the ear.

embryo transfer

Transfer of fertilized egg(s) from a donor female to one or more recipient females.


See expected progeny difference.

European breed

Breed originating in European countries other than England (these are called British breeds); a larger dual-purpose breed such as Charolais, Simmental, and Limousin; also called continental or exotic breed in the United States.

exotic breed

See European breed.

expected progeny difference (EPD)

One-half of the breeding value of a 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.

fed cattle

Steers and heifers that have been fed concentrates, usually for 90-120 days in a feedlot.


(1) Cattle that need further feeding prior to slaughter. (2) Producer who feeds cattle.


Enterprise in which cattle are fed grain and other concentrates for usually 90-120 days. Feedlots range in size from less than 100-head capacity to many thousands.


Cattle-feeding facility.

finished cattle

Fed cattle whose time in the feedlot is completed and are now ready for slaughter.


Grazed or harvested herbaceous plants that are utilized by cattle.

futures market

Electronic market through which buyers and sellers trade contracts on commodities or raw materials. Futures contracts are available for a variety of delivery months. However, delivery of actual products seldom occurs. Futures markets are used as a risk management tool or as a speculative venture.


Segment of DNA in the chromosome that codes for a trait and determines how a trait will develop.

grade and yield

Marketing transaction whereby payment is made on the bases of carcass weight and quality grade.


Risk management strategy that allows a producer to lock in a price for a given commodity at a specified time.


Young female bovine cow prior to the time that she has produced her first calf.


Heifer that has calved once and is then fed for slaughter, the calf has usually died or been weaned at an early age.


Group of cattle (usually cows) that are in a similar management program.


Skins from cattle.

integrated resource management (IRM)

Multidisciplinary approach to managing cattle more efficiently and profitably; management decisions are based on how all resources are affected.


Bringing together of two or more segments of beef productions and processing under one centrally organized unit.

intermuscular fat

Fat located between muscle systems. Also called seam fat.

intramuscular fat

Fat within the muscle or marbling.


See integrated resource management (IRM).

kosher meat

Meat from ruminant animals (with split hooves) that have been slaughtered according to Jewish law.


Any plant type within the family Leguminosae, such as pea, bean, alfalfa, and clover.


For of inbreeding whereby a bullís genes are concentrated in a herd. The average relationship of the inspaniduals in the herd to this ancestor (outstanding inspanidual or inspaniduals) is increased by linebreeding.

long yearling

Animal between 19 months and 2 years of age.


Flecks of intramuscular fat distributed in muscle tissue. Marbling is usually evaluated in the rib eye between the twelfth and thirteenth ribs.


Unbranded animal, usually on the range.


Tissue of the animal body that are used for food.

middle meats

Rib and loin of a beef carcass. These primals generally yield the highest-priced beef cuts.

nutrient density

Amount of essential nutrients relative to the number of calories in a given amount of food.


Refers to nonpregnant females.

packing plant

Facility in which cattle are slaughtered and processed.

pasture rotation

Rotation of animals from one pasture to another so that some pasture areas have no livestock grazing on them during certain periods of time.


Preparation of feeder calves for marketing and shipment, may include vaccinations, castration, and training calves to eat and drink in pens.

price discovery

Process that shows how the specific price for a given quantity and quality of beef is determined.


Animal eligible for registry with a recognized breed association.


Firm that purchases beef (usually from a packer), them performs some fabrication before selling the beef to another firm.

quality grades

Grades such as Prime, Choice, and Select that group slaughter cattle and carcasses into value and palatability-based categories. Grades are determined primarily by marbling and age of animal.


Feed fed to an animal during a 24-hour period.

red meat

Meat from cattle, sheep, swine, and goats. See also white meat.


Recorded in the herd blood of a breed.

retail cuts

Cuts of beef in sizes that are purchased by the consumer.


Feed that is high in fiber, low in digestible nutrients, and low in energy (e.g., hay, straw, silage, and pasture).


A compartment of the ruminant stomach that is similar to a large fermentation pouch where bacteria and protozoa break down fibrous plant material swallowed by the animal. Sometimes referred to as the paunch.


Mammal whose stomach has four partsórumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and elk are ruminants.

short yearling

Animal is over 1 year of age but under 18 months of age.

"show list" or "show pens"

Slaughter cattle that are ready for the cattle feeder to "show" the packer buyers.


Forage, corn fodder, or sorghum preserved by fermentation that produces acids similar to the acids used to make pickled foods for people.


Male parent.


Bovine male castrated prior to puberty.


Weaned cattle that are fed high-roughage diets (including grazing) before going into the feedlot.

terminal sires

Sires used in a crossbreeding system in which all their progeny, both male and female, are marketed. For example, crossbred dams could be bred to sires of a third breed and all calves marketed. Although this system allows maximum heterosis and complementary of breeds, replacement females must come from other herds.

tray-ready beef

Retail cuts that are cut and packaged at the packing plant for retail sales.


Encased group of mammary glands of the female.


Using high-frequency sound waves to show visual outlines of internal body structures (e.g., fat thickness, rib-eye area, and pregnancy can be predicted). The machine sends sound waves into the animal and records these waves as they bounce off the tissues. Different wavelengths are recorded for fat and lean.

value-based marketing

Marketing system based on paying for individual animal differences rather than using average prices.


Meat from very young cattle (under 3 months of age). Veal typically comes from dairy bull calves.

weaning (wean)

Separating young animals from their dams so that the offspring can no longer suckle.