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Beef Glossary

Aerobic - Microorganisms that require free oxygen to biodegrade organic matter.

Anaerobic - Microorganisms that biodegrade organic matter without free oxygen.

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

Average Daily Gain - Pounds of live weight gained per day.

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Backgrounding - Growing program for feeder cattle from the time calves are weaned until they are on a finishing ration in the feedlot. Backgrounding is the management process of feeding the stocker animal.

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

Bovine - Refers to a general family grouping of cattle.

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

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

Bullock - Young bull, typically less than 20 months of age.

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

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

Calve - Giving birth to a calf. Same as parturition.

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

Cow - 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.

Denitrification - The biochemical reduction of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous nitrogen, either as molecular nitrogen or as an oxide of nitrogen.

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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.

Feedlot - 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.

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

Forage - Feedstuffs composed primarily of the whole plant, including stems and leaves that are utilized by cattle.

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

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

Hide - Skins from cattle.

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

Lagoon - Earthen storage structure with sufficient dilution water added to allow microorganisms to biodegrade and treat organic matter.

Legume - Any of thousands of plant species that have seed pods that split along both sides when ripe. Some of the more common legumes used for human consumption are beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soybeans. Others, such as clover and alfalfa, are used as animal feed. Legumes have a unique ability to obtain much or all of their nitrogen requirements from symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

Meat - Tissue of the animal body that are used for food.

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Nitrification - The biochemical oxidation of ammonium to nitrate, predominantly by autotrophic bacteria.

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

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

Ruminant - Mammal whose stomach has four parts-rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and elk are ruminants.

Steer - Bovine male castrated prior to puberty.

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

Weaning (wean) - Separating young animals from their dams so that the offspring can no longer suckle.

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