So I get it. Cattle terminology can be a wee bit confusing. I put together a mini-dictionary of cattle terms. What cow terms do you want to know more about?
Calf– Baby cow
Cow– Momma cow
Bull– Male cow used for breeding
Heifer– Girl cow that hasn’t had a baby yet.
Steer– Castrated (Neutuered) male calf that will be grown for meat.
Dairy Cow– Type of cow used for milk product. Pretty much all the dairy cows in Canada are Holsteins – the black and white cows.
Beef Cow– breed of cow that is used for meat production.
Purebred Cattle– Cattle that are purebred and registered with their associated breed organization. Similar to pured dogs, horses etc. The cow in the picture above is purebred Red Angus Cow
Common Cattle Breeds–There are piles of different breeds, but the main breeds in Canada are Angus, Charolais, Hereford & Simmental. Angus- Can be black or red. Charolais- Usually all white but can be tan to red.Hereford-They have a white face and red body. Simmental – Black or Red can have a white face.
Commercial cattle- Cattle that are cross bred usually a mix of 2-3 breeds. This gives the calves what is called “Hybrid Vigor” which makes them hardier. The tan colored calf in the picture above is a commercial calf, she’s half Angus, half Charolais.
Cow/Calf Producer– This if a farmer that has a herd of cows that producers calves. The calves stay with their mom’s all summer. They are weaned in the fall and then sent into the backgrounder lots.
Backgrounder Lot– A farm where calves are fed over the winter a diet that’s mostly hay/silage (ie. grass) before they are put on pasture again in the summer.
Finisher Feedlot- This is the final part of the beef cycle before the cattle are slaughtered. Cattle are feed for anywhere from 100-180 days on a diet that is a mix of silage, grain and supplement.
Silage- Grass that is harvested and fermented to be fed over the winter. In Canada we can’t keep the cattle on pasture year round due to snow, so we stock pile feed for the cattle over the winter.
Hay- Dried and baled grass. These are the green bales. Again, we harvest the grass and stockpile it to feed over the winter.
Straw- Dried and baled stalks from harvested grain. These are the yellow bales. This is used for bedding for the cattle. It’s a pretty neat part of the agriculture system where we used the grain from wheat or barley for human food and the left over stalk from the plant is used in the livestock industry, so we get the most use out of the land possible.
Supplement– Feed that is manufactured in mills to add to forages and grains. This commonly is a mineral/vitamin pack and a protein source that is a byproduct from another part of food production. Common supplement ingredients are canola meal (by product from canola oil extraction), wheat middlings (flour by products), distillers grains (malting by product)