Know the Cattle Lingo
Any industry or culture is bound to adopt their own dictionary of language and
terminology, and the beef and cattle business is no different.
From types of cattle to the various forms of feedlot and
auction-speak, familiarizing yourself with the general lingo of the cattle industry is a good idea prior to
beginning operations. As you enter new phases in the production of your farm and new stages of the cattle and
business life, you will encounter a series of new words and phrases that you need to at least be somewhat familiar
with if you are to compete in the market place.
Some of the terms are industry specific, and have developed over
the years as the industry has changed and progressed. Other terminology is of a scientific nature, and the cattle
ranching dictionary in regards to scientific advancements in nutrition, genetics, cloning, breeding and other areas
is changing—sometimes overnight—as new technologies and discoveries are made.
Below are some of the common terms you will hear at various stages within the cattle
industry as compiled by North Dakota State University.
An acute or chronic disease condition in feedlot cattle.
Results from over-consumption or too rapid consumption of grain (starch). Acute cases generally result in death.
Chronic cases are common, resulting in erratic intakes and/or reduced feed intake, but are probably hidden by pen
intakes which tend to make average consumption look normal. It is one of the most costly problems in the feedlot
industry. Sub-acute cases are difficult to diagnose, but symptoms include poor performance and poor
Average daily gain. The amount of gain divided by the number of
days in the feeding period.
As Is Basis
Feed is sold `as is,' with no adjustments for moisture
Calves which are taken directly off the cow and weaned at the feedlot, requiring
additional labor and a greater degree of health management by the feedlot.
The sale price ($/cwt) at which the customer or owner of
the cattle does not make or lose money.
Steers which are ridden by other steers in the pen (as
with cows or heifers that are `bulling'). If problems persist, animals are usually removed from the pen to prevent
bruising, injury, and reduction in performance of the other cattle.
Pen in which bullers are kept.
Bunk Call or Bunk Reading
Deciding how much feed should be fed and when it should be fed.
The philosophy the feedlot manager uses to determine the amount of feed to offer.
Bunk Reader (Bunk Call)
The person at the feedlot who is
responsible for deciding the daily amount of feed the cattle are fed. This person is critical to the successful
feeding of high concentrate diets.
Feed ingredients which are produced during the
production of human food products (e.g. corn sweetener, flour, cooking oils, sugar) or industrial products (e.g.
ethanol, industrial oils). These byproducts are used as ingredients in some growing and finishing diets.
Cattle which are placed on feed as calves and finished at less than 16 months of age.
Usually on feed for 150 to 200 days. These cattle are usually placed in the feedlot directly following