This glossary is intended as an explanation in plain language of certain terms frequently used in cattle production. It is not meant to be a scientific reference but simply a tool facilitating understanding of our site.

Backgrounding: Growth phase of the feeder calf between weaning and finishing.
BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy): Progressive fatal diseases of the cattle nervous system associated with the presence of an abnormal protein called prion.
Cull cattle: Dairy or beef cattle at the end of their career marketed for meat.
Dairy calf: Young dairy calf marketed for growing for the purpose of veal production (generally males) or for dairy production (females).
Fed cattle: Beef cattle grown for beef production.
Feeder calf or cow-calf: Feeder calf fed on its mother’s milk and pasture grass.
Feedlot: Pens used to grow the animals.
Finishing: Last phase of cattle production during which cattle are grown to an ideal weight for slaughter.
Grain-fed calf: Dairy calf fed mainly with grain corn for the purpose of veal production.
Heifer: Young female that has not yet given birth to a calf.
Milk-fed calf: Dairy calf fed mainly with milk (milk replacer) for the purpose of veal production.
Preconditioning: Action of preparing the feeder calf (vaccinating, weaning, castrating, dehorning, deworming) with the aim of continuing to grow it.
Weaning: Action of ceasing to feed a calf on a diet mainly consisting of milk to replace it with a solid diet.