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Farm Terminology 101


We thought it would be fun to add a page of farm terminology so that folks who are new to farming would know what we are talking about!


Beef - term used to refer to the category of meat derived from bovines.

Bovine - term used to describe a category of mammals that we generally refer to as "cows." 

Breed - to introduce males and females for the purpose of creating offspring;  group of cattle with like conformation and traits and able to produce offspring with like traits due to genetic relationship.

Calf - sexually immature young bovine.

Calving - cow giving birth to a calf.

Cattle - any group of bovines, gender unspecified, and for any breed or purpose. 

Cow - sexually mature female bovine of any breed, usually after having at least one calf.

Cud - bolus of pre-chewed food regurgitated for further chewing.

Dairy cow - female bovine kept for milking purposes.

Heifer - sexually mature female bovine that has not yet given birth to her first calf.

Oxen - working cattle of any gender or breed.

Rumen - first stomach of a bovine.

Ruminate - chew cud.

Steer - castrated male bovine, usually kept for beef or as oxen to be used as draft animals.

Veal - meat derived from a young bovine, usually within a few months of birth, usually male calves culled from dairy farms.

Yearling - bovine that is 12-18 months of age.


Barrow - male pig that was castrated before sexual maturity, generally raised for meat, can also be kept as pets.

Boar - male pig that has not been castrated, useful only for breeding as boars typically don't make trustworthy pets, especially in the presence of sexually mature sows/gilts.  Not usually eaten due to "boar taint" or foul taste of the meat caused by hormones. 

Farrow - process of a sow or gilt giving birth to a litter of pigs.

Farrow-to-Finish - production system where a farmer produces their own pigs through the entire process from gestation and birthing of the pigs through to the slaughter and marketing of the pork.  

Gilt - sexually mature female pig that has not farrowed her first litter yet.

Pig - generic term for young sexually immature porcines.  Most commonly used as a generic term for all pigs, though that's technically incorrect. 

Piglet - name of a character from A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" stories.  Used incorrectly in reference to baby pigs, which are actually just called pigs.

Porcine - term used to describe a category of mammals that we generally refer to as "pigs."

Runt - smallest or weakest pig in a litter. 

Shoat - an immature pig of any gender. Often the term used during sales or auctions when a group of unidentified pigs enters the ring.

Sow - sexually mature female porcine that has already farrowed her first litter of pigs. 

Stag - boar that is castrated later in life; uncommonly done as boars are usually too large to restrain for the procedure.

Swine - generic term used to describe a herd of any breed, age, or gender. 


Buck - intact male goat of breeding age.

Buckling - young intact male goat not yet of breeding age.

Doe - intact female goat of breeding age.

Doeling - young intact female goat not yet of breeding age.

Freshen - to give birth and begin producing milk.

Kid - baby goat; the process of giving birth to a baby goat. 

Ruminant - animal that chews their cud and has a four-chambered stomach (cows and goats)

Wether - castrated male goat.


Dam - mother of her offspring.

Gestation - period of time from conception to birth.  In cattle, gestation is 285 days on average (9 months).  In swine, gestation is 114 days (three months, three weeks, three days). Goat gestation is 150 days on average (about 5 months).

Sire - father of his offspring.  

Weaning - process of removing an offspring from its mother.

Weanling - a just-weaned pig, calf, horse, or goat.