The following definitions explain terms used in this topic area.
At the bottom of this page are links to online glossaries that
provide additional information.
Antibiotic. A substance that destroys or
inhibits the growth or action of microorganisms.
Aquaculture. The production of aquatic plants
or animals in a controlled environment, such as ponds, raceways,
tanks, or cages, for all or part of their life cycles.
Backgrounding. The preparation of young cattle
for a feedlot, accustoming them to confinement facilities and
Barrow. A male hog that has been castrated
before reaching sexual maturity.
Boar. An uncastrated (sexually intact) male
Bovine. Pertaining to cattle, both beef and
Broiler. A young chicken produced for meat.
Broodfish. Fish kept for egg production,
including males. Broodfish produce the fertilized eggs that go to
Bull. A sexually mature, uncastrated bovine
male, generally employed for breeding purposes.
Byproduct. A product other than muscle meat
harvested or manufactured from livestock.
Cattle cycle. Cyclical increases and decreases
in cattle inventories over time, which arise because biological
constraints prevent producers from instantly responding to price.
In general, the cattle cycle is determined by the combined effects
of cattle prices, climatic conditions, and the time needed to
breed, calve, and raise cattle to market weight.
Confinement. Keeping an animal within
buildings, corrals, or pens during all stages of production.
Cow. A mature bovine female, usually having had
a least one calf.
Creep feeder. A small feeding pen built with a
small entrance through which only young, small animals can enter.
This arrangement prevents larger animals from crowding the smaller
ones from the feed.
Crustacean. Invertebrate animals with many
jointed legs and a hard external shell, such as crawfish, shrimp,
softshell crabs, and prawns.
Cull. To remove from the herd or flock, usually
undesirable and/or inefficient (unprofitable) breeding stock that
will be sent to slaughter.
Doe. A female goat, deer, or rabbit.
Dressed weight. The weight of a chilled animal
carcass. Carcasses typically have the feet, head, hide, and
internal organs removed, although there are some variations across
Drying off. The process of using certain
management practices, such as reducing milking frequency and
changing feed rations, to stop milk production. A dry cow is not
Ewe. A female sheep.
Farrow. To give birth to a litter of pigs.
Farrow-to-finish operations. Operations where
pigs are farrowed and finished to a slaughter weight of 225-300
Feeder cattle. Cattle, ready to be finished for
market, weighing 550 to 650 pounds or more. Usually yearling cattle
(between 1 and 2 years old) with a big frame.
Feeder pigs. Young pigs, usually weighing 40 to
60 pounds, ready to be finished for market.
Feedlot. Facility where cattle are confined in
a small area and fed carefully mixed, high-concentrate feed to
fatten them. On average, cattle are fed here about 5 months,
although this can vary from 3 months to 9 months, depending on
their weight when they enter and their desired final condition.
Fed cattle. Slaughter cattle (usually steers
and heifers) that have been finished on concentrated feed.
Fingerlings. Young, small fish. For trout,
fingerlings are defined as fish from 1 to 6 inches long. For
catfish, fingerling weight is 60 pounds per 1,000 fish and
Finishing. The stage of production prior to
slaughter where animals are typically fed rations of grain or other
concentrates. The finishing stage increases an animal's weight and
produces desirable carcass characteristics.
Game birds. Birds--such as pheasant, grouse,
partridge, or quail--that are widely hunted for sport. Farm-raised game can be sold if they are
produced following appropriate State regulations.
Gilt. Female hog, usually less than 15 months
of age, which has not produced a litter.
Heifer. A bovine female that has not given
birth to a calf.
Hen. An adult female chicken or turkey.
Hog production phases. Four commonly used
categories that describe stages of the hog production process: 1)
breeding and gestation--breeding females and maintaining them
during the gestation period; 2) farrowing-to-wean--the time from
the birth of baby pigs until weaning; 3) nursery--the care of pigs
immediately after weaning until about 30-80 pounds; and 4)
finishing--the feeding of hogs from 30-80 pounds to a slaughter
weight of 225-300 pounds.
Kid. A young goat.
Lactation. The process of secreting milk.
Lamb. A term that refers both to young sheep
and the meat obtained from sheep that are generally slaughtered
within 12-14 months of birth.
Marbling. Fat interspersed within lean beef
muscle. Distinguished from exterior fat that does not directly
affect meat quality. More marbling is usually associated with
Market hog. A barrow or gilt ready for
slaughter, weighing 240 to 260 pounds.
Mohair. The long, lustrous fleece covering
Angora goats, used for special kinds of cloth.
Mollusk. Invertebrate animals with soft body
coverings and shells of one to eight parts or sections. This group
includes clams, mussels, oysters, abalone, and snails.
Mutton. Meat from older sheep that were once
part of a breeding herd.
Packer. A firm that slaughters or slaughters
and processes livestock or poultry.
Pig. Name applied to domesticated swine of all
ages and sizes in most countries of the world, except the United
States, where "pig" commonly means younger animals (typically those
weighing less than 100 pounds) while "hog" refers to all larger
Poult. A young turkey of either sex, usually
not more than 2 months of age.
Pullet. A female chicken less than 1 year old,
or a young female chicken before she begins to lay eggs.
Ram. A male sheep that has not been castrated,
generally employed for breeding purposes.
Red meat. The carcass after slaughter for beef,
veal, pork, lamb, and mutton.
Rooster. An adult male chicken.
Sow. A female hog that has produced at least
Stag. A male animal castrated at or near
maturity after having developed definite masculine
Steer. A bovine male castrated before reaching
Stocker calves. Young, growing animals on
pasture and given very little other feed, with the intention of
increasing weight and maturity before being placed in a
Tom. A male turkey.
Veal. Meat from the carcass of a young
Vealer. Calves fed (usually only milk) for
early slaughter, usually less than 4 months old and weighing less
than 350 pounds.
Vertical integration. The linkage of firms in
different stages of production or marketing under the ownership of
a single firm (from Gail L. Cramer and Clarence W. Jensen,
Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Sixth Edition, John Wiley
and Sons, Inc., 1994).
Yearling mutton. Meat from sheep that are
generally slaughtered when they are older than 14 months of age,
but were never a part of the breeding herd and show carcass
maturity characteristics more advanced than those of lamb.
Other Online Glossaries for Livestock and Animal Products
Below are links to other online glossaries from government,
university, and other non-commercial sources. Some focus on
individual animal species or products; some are for livestock in
general; and others focus on animal products and food safety.
Glossaries by Species or Product
Glossary of Beef Production Terms, Purdue
University Extension Service
Swine Production Glossary, University of
Pennsylvania Veterinary College
Dairy Glossary Index, California Department of
Defining Fisheries: A User's Glossary, Division
of Marine Fisheries, North Carolina Department of Environment and
Glossary of Terms, StreamNet website, Pacific
States Marine Fisheries Commission
Glossaries for General Livestock and Animal Products
Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal
Science, Oklahoma State University
Glossary of Forage Terms, Forage Information
System, Oregon State University
Glossary of Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms,
Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA
Glossary of Food Safety Terms, Iowa State
University Extension Service
Grazing Management Terms, University of
California Cooperative Extension