As with any industry, it is vital to know the terminology associated with the field of concern so that we’re able to effectively communicate with each other. Although there are various colloquialisms many people use to refer to livestock – the most common being “cow” – some of these words have more specific meanings when it comes to formal use.  As many of these terms apply to animals of different species, ages, and sexes, they play an important role in communication in relation to areas such as production, trade, government regulations, and veterinary services to name a few.


Breed – Animals with common origins and characteristics that distinguish them from other groups within the same species

Breeder – An animal raised for breeding purposes

Culling – Removing unproductive animals

Dam – A female parent

Livestock – Domestic farm animals used for breeding or production of commodities

Market livestock – Livestock not used for breeding purposes

Sire – A male parent


Multiparous – A female that produces multiple offspring at a time

Nulliparous – A female that has no offspring

Primiparous – A female that has only produced one offspring

Polyparous – A female that has produced multiple offspring

Uniparous – A female that produces one offspring at a time


Cattle (Bovine)
Bull – A sexually mature male bovine

Calf – A male or female bovine under one year of age

Cow – A female bovine that has had a calf

Dry cow – A cow that has calved and is not producing milk

Heifer – A female bovine that has not had a calf

Open cow – Cow that is not pregnant at the end of the breeding season

Ox – A castrated bull used as a draft animal

Replacement heifer – Heifer raised to replace culled cows in beef or dairy operations

Steer – A castrated male bovine

Veal – Calves sold for slaughter at younger than 3 months of age


Sheep (Ovine)
Ewe – A female sheep at least 1 year of age

Lamb – A young sheep less than 1 year of age

Lambkin/Lambling – A newly born lamb

Ram – A sexually mature male sheep at least 1 year of age

Wether – A castrated male sheep


Swine (Porcine)
Barrow – A male swine castrated before sexual maturity

Boar – An adult male swine

Feeder pig – A young pig that is sold to another farmer to reach market weight

Gilt – A female swine that has not given birth

Hog – A mature swine that weighs more than 150 pounds

Market hog – Hog that sells at a weight of 200 to 280 pounds

Pig – A young swine

Piglet – A baby pig that is still nursing

Shoat – A young, weaned pig

Sow – A female swine that has given birth

Stag – A male swine castrated after sexual maturity


Broiler – A chicken used for meat production (6 to 13 weeks of age)

Chick – A newly hatched or very young chicken

Cockerel – An adult male chicken

Hen – An adult female chicken

Pullet – A hen that is less than one year of age


Goats (Caprine)
Buck – A sexually mature male goat

Doe – A female goat

Kid – A goat less than one year of age

Wether – A castrated male goat


Horses (Equine)
Colt – A male horse under four years of age

Draft horse – A large horse bred for labor

Filly – A female horse under four years of age

Foal – A young horse less than one year of age

Gelding – A castrated male horse

Hand – A unit of measurement (1 hand = 4 inches)

Mare – An adult female horse

Pony – A mature horse that measures less than 14.2 hands

Stallion – An adult male horse


While this article and the terminology page it supplements will contain many useful terms, neither will be a truly comprehensive list. If you are interested in the definitions and uses of other agricultural terms, a broader list of terminology can be found on The National Agricultural Law Center’s website.