Bovine 101

Today was uneventful compared to yesterday. Ryan headed to Virginia to pick up some more steers so Steve and I were on our own. Thankfully the animals behaved themselves and didn’t cause any trouble for us. We were able to do our daily chores, check a few more things off the to-do list, and finish up at our normal time.

One of the biggest hurdles for me thus far, aside from possessing no upper body strength, has been mastering the terminology used here on the farm. I like words and I like using the correctly, but to do that you have to know what they mean in the first place!

For example, did you know that there is no such thing as a male cow?

A cow by truest definition is a female bovine that has produced a calf.

To calve is to give birth.

A calf is a male or female who is less than a year old.

A yearling is a male or female between one and two years old.

A steer is a castrated male typically being raised for beef.

Beeves is the plural, gender neutral term for cattle being raised for slaughter.

A bull is a fertile male.

An ox is a castrated male who is kept for draft/work purposes.

A heifer is a female over one year old who has not yet calved. A first-calf heifer is a female who has only had one calf.

Bovine is the generic term for any member of the cattle family.

Do you feel smarter yet? I’m still working on keeping it all straight, but I’m hopeful I’ll have it all down by the end of the summer.

Speaking of summer, I am less excited about it than I was last week. Why? This happened yesterday (one day!) and is only going to get worse:


Everyone’s favorite lamb-chick says “hi.” She really does think she’s a chicken. Too bad we can’t get rid of the dog and use her to protect the layers!


12 thoughts on “Bovine 101

  1. Farming and or ranching isn’t a job it’s a way of life, and as you give into that the terminology will become second nature. Farming is producing food “from” the land and animals. Ranching is producing food which is the animal, and therefore requires more space.

  2. I had no idea there were so many different categories of cows – um, I mean “bovine”. 😉
    The lamb-chick pic is TOO precious!!! It’s perfect that the chicks are looking at each other and the lamb is looking at you… great meme material.

    • Yeah, we are all pretty attached to her. Her name is Baahhb (pronounced Bob) even though she’s female. It seemed appropriate since she is something of a misfit anyway!

  3. This is so helpful!!! We have a big cow pasture across the road and we sit and watch the cows for our entertainment. Now we will know what we are looking at!!!

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