Animal Market Information – Definitions/Methodology Reference Guide

Please note

This glossary is intended to assist in understanding commonly used terms and concepts when reading and interpreting data, but should not be considered as official definitions.


Average daily gain (ADG) : Amount of weight gained per day.

Body condition score : A subjective score regarding the health and welfare, as well as the amount (or lack) of fat an animal has. In Canada, a 5-point scale is commonly used (there is also a 9-point scale typically used in the United States.).

Bleeding out : Allowing the majority of an animal's blood to leave the body through a deliberate wound, usually the severing of the jugular vein and carotid artery in the neck.

Branding : Creating a permanent mark on the skin of an animal for the purposes of identification.

Break-even price : Minimum sale price that will cover all expenses.

Captive bolt : Hand-held device used when euthanizing livestock.

Carcass grade : There are two grading systems used for carcasses that relate to consumer acceptability (quality grade) and expected amount of meat that a carcass will produce (yield grade).

Cash Price : The amount paid for commodities on the spot market.

Castrate : To remove the testicles or impede from a male animal.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) : The CME is a global marketplace based in Chicago that trade futures, and in most cases options, in the sectors of agriculture, energy, metals, real estate, and even weather.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) : The Consumer Price Index (CPI) represents changes in prices as experienced by Canadian consumers. It measures price change by comparing, through time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services.

Contract Price : the price for the goods or services to be received according to/based on conditions described in a contract. (A futures contract price is based on a legal agreement to buy or sell a particular commodity or asset at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future.)

Compromised animal : A compromised animal is an animal with reduced capacity to withstand transportation but where transportation with special provisions will not lead to undue suffering. Compromised animals may be locally transported with special provisions to receive care, be euthanized or humanely slaughtered.

Culled : Animal that has been removed from a herd due to downsizing, behaviour, sickness, injury, undesirable genetics, or reproductive status.

CWT(Hundredweight) : A unit of mass equal to 100 pounds.

Dam : Female parent.

Dressing percentage : The dressing percentage reflects the portion of a slaughtered animal that is usable meat. It is calculated by dividing the warm carcass weight by the shrunk live weight of the animal and expressing the result as a percentage. The dressing percentage of cattle marketed in Canada will differ from that of similar animals marketed in the United States. The US carcass weight includes the weight of the kidney, pelvic and heart fat, which is not included in the Canadian carcass weight.

Dressed weight (carcass weight) : Weight of an animal after being bled and all the internal organs and oftentimes the head as well as inedible portions of the tail and legs have been removed. The carcass is weighed warm as opposed to cold. Definition can vary based on the species and whether the hide is removed or not.

Farm gate sales : The direct sale of a product from the producer to the consumer, without going through a marketing board or grocery store.

Feed efficiency : Ratio of feed required to produce a unit of weight gain.

Feeder : An animal being fattened prior to slaughter.

Free On Board (FOB) : Shipment term used to indicate whether the seller or buyer is liable for goods that are damaged or destroyed during shipping. For accounting purposes, the supplier should record a sale at the point of departure from its shipping dock. "FOB origin" means the purchaser pays the shipping cost from the factory or warehouse and gains ownership of the goods as soon as it leaves its point of origin. "FOB destination" means the seller retains the risk of loss until the goods reach the buyer.

Futures : Derivative financial contracts that obligate the parties to transact an asset at a predetermined future date and price. The buyer must purchase and the seller must sell the underlying asset at the set price, regardless of the current market price at the expiration date.

Hot iron branding : The permanent identification of animals using superheated instruments to create a specific mark indicating ownership.

Index 100 Price : Index 100 refers to a basis price, excluding any discounts or premiums. An index is the method used to classify a carcass according to its lean meat content. For hogs, index 100 is considered average. Index 110 has a higher lean content for which packers pay a 10 percent premium. Similarly, an index 90 carcass is discounted 10 percent.

Non-ambulatory : An animal that cannot stand or walk without assistance or move without being dragged or carried, regardless of size or age.

Offal : Entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food (i.e. heart, liver and kidneys).

Polled : Without horns in species which are normally horned.

Primal cut-outs : Piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering. The primal cuts may be sold complete or cut further into sub-primals to fit customer needs (brisket, chuck, loin, flank, rib, hip, etc.).

Purebred : Animal that has been bred and descended from a population of animals having a common genetic origin and physical characteristics for multiple generations, such that their resulting progeny reliably carry on the characteristics of that breed. In Canada, the definition of purebred for each breed is established in the approved by-laws of a breed association, authorized to register animals of that breed under the authority of the Animal Pedigree Act.

Shrunk weight : The animal is weighed after transportation to the packing plant. This weight reflects the loss of digestive system contents, manure and urine due to the stress of change or the withholding of feed and water. Weight that is lost during periods when feed and/or water are not available, or periods of stress, including during transportation. Often expressed as a percentage calculated from the amount of weight lost compared to the original weight prior to deprivation of feed and/or water.

Sire : Male parent.

Stunning : Rendering an animal unconscious prior to euthanasia or slaughter.

Tail docking : The removal of part or all of an animal's tail.

Unfit for transport : An animal with reduced capacity to withstand transportation and where there is a high risk that transportation will lead to undue suffering.

Weaning : The separation of a young animal from its dam and the removal of milk as a food source.

Yearling : Animal that is between one and two years of age.

Beef cattle and veal

Backgrounding : A growing program for feeder cattle from weaning until they are put on a finishing ration in a feedlot. Cattle may be grown on grass or fed harvested feed.

Belly bulls : Male cattle that have been improperly elastic or band castrated having one or both testicles trapped above the band/elastic against the belly.

Bovine : Refers to cattle or bison and includes their exotic relatives.

Bull : Uncastrated male bovine used for breeding purposes.

Brisket : Chest area of cattle.

Calf : Male or female bovine animal under a year of age.

Cattle : Bovine animals of all ages.

Cow : A sexually mature female bovine animal that has given birth to a calf.

Colostrum : The first milk given by a cow after calving, which is high in antibodies. Colostrum confers passive immunity that protects the calf from infections, while its active immune system is developing.

Commercial cattle : Cattle that are crossbred usually as a mix of 2-3 breeds. This gives the calves "hybrid vigor" (genetic superiority) which makes them hardier.

Checkoff : Program that collects $1 per head each time a beef animal is sold. Used to promote the marketing of beef. Dairy feeder calves (Bob calves): Young, often male, calves that leave the dairy farm to enter the red meat industry.

Finished cattle : Cattle that are ready for slaughter, typically having obtained a sufficient size and fat cover to grade well.

Feedlot : Cattle operation where cattle are typically housed in large pens and fed stored feeds. Cattle spend the majority of their lives on pasture, then are finished in a feedlot for typically 3-6 months, fed with a higher energy ration to attain an optimal weight and fat cover. Feedlots range in size from a few to thousands of cattle.

Grain-fed veal cattle : Grain-fed veal is started with calves from dairy farms that are fed initially on a commercial milk replacer or whole milk diet before transitioning to a grain ration and finished at approximately 700 lbs live weight.

Gestation : The period from conception to birth of a calf; typically 285 days in cattle.

Heifer : A young female bovine that has not yet given birth to a calf. After giving birth, a heifer becomes a cow.

High energy feeding : A feeding regimen that relies on a nutritionally balanced ration with a higher proportion of processed grains, premixes, and supplements and a lower proportion of forages such as hay or silage. Such diets are typically used to finish cattle prior to slaughter.

Marbling : Fine threads of intramuscular fat in red meat which adds tenderness and flavour which is an indicator of quality. Marbling is evaluated in the ribeye between the 12th and 13th rib.

Milk-fed veal cattle : Milk-fed veal is started with calves from dairy farms that are raised primarily on a milk-based diet with some grain and/or fibre included in the ration and finished at approximately 550 lbs. live weight.

Pre-conditioned calves : Calves (generally 80–136 kg [177–300 lbs.]) that are no longer receiving milk or milk replacers and are consuming grain, and may have been vaccinated.

Roughage : Roughage refers to plant material with high cellulosic content (hay, silage, pasture) especially grasses that ruminants such as cattle are able to digest. Roughage is first broken down by microbes in the rumen.

Steer : A steer is a castrated male bovine. Male bovines are castrated when they are young and before they develop the typical physical and behavioural characteristics of a bull. Steers are normally raised for beef.

Veal : Veal is produced from male dairy calves.

Weaned calf : A calf that is no longer receiving milk or milk replacer.

Weaning – abrupt : Complete and sudden separation of the cow and calf with no tactile, visual, or auditory contact.

Weaning – fence line : Separation of the cow and calf to opposite sides of a fence, thereby having visual and auditory contact.

Weaning – two stage : Calves initially remain with their dams, but wear a nose flap to prevent nursing for 5-7 days. Then the nose flaps are removed and the cow-calf pairs are separated.

5 area choice : Refers to 5 areas in the US (Texas/Oklahoma/New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; Iowa/Minnesota).


Somatic cell : All milk naturally contains some somatic cells, which enable cows to fight infection and ensure good health. Farmers routinely monitor their herds for somatic cell counts as a general gauge of the cow's well-being.

Butterfat : The fat in milk (also known as milk fat).

Bulk Tank : The tank that stores the milk that is being offered for sale and is capable of cooling or maintaining the pre-cooled milk between 0 and 4° C, agitating and measuring the milk.

Casein : The dominant protein in cow's milk.

Cream : Cream is the high-fat milk product separated from milk which contains at least 18% milk fat.

Curd: The clumps of protein and other milk components that are formed during the cheese-making process. Curds are pressed into blocks or barrels for proper aging and curing of the cheese.

Dry cow : A period of time during which a cow is not producing milk. The "dry" period lasts between 50 and 70 days when a cow is preparing to give birth to a calf, which then begins a new lactation period.

Fluid Milk : All milk and milk beverages including cream with a minimum butterfat content of 5% for retail and food service.

Homogenization : A process applied to milk that results in fat globules being reduced in size and stays evenly distributed throughout the milk which allows a smoother consistency.

Industrial milk : Milk that is sold for further processing in dairy products such as cheese, cream, ice cream etc.

Lactose : A sugar that is found only in milk.

Milk solids: In respect of a dairy product other than cheese, any constituent of milk other than water or casein, alone or combined with other constituents of milk that has not been altered in its chemical composition. In respect of cheese, any constituent of milk other than water, alone or combined with other constituents of milk.

MSQ : Industrial Market Sharing Quota.

Pasteurization: A simple, effective method to kill harmful pathogens through heat treatment without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk.

Raw milk : Milk that has not been heated beyond 40°C or undergone any treatment that has an equivalent effect.

Skim Milk: The product left after the cream is removed from milk.

Teat dip : Solution put on the cows' teats before and/or after milking to seal the teat to prevent bacteria from entering and causing an infection.

TPQ : Total Production Quota

Udder : The mammary gland of a cow in which milk is formed and stored

Whole milk : Normal lacteal secretion, free from colostrum, obtained from the mammary gland of an animal

Whey: The water content of milk that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process.


Buck/Billies : Male goat.

Does/Nannies : A Female goat.

Kids : Juvenile goat of both sexes.


Boar : Sexually mature male pigs intended for use in breeding over the weight of 135 kg (300 lbs).

Barrow : A castrated boar.

Carcass cut-out value : The cut-out value of an individual pork carcass is based on the amounts of the various cuts produced by that carcass and the prices of those cuts. Its value is expressed in cents per pound or dollars per hundred pounds.

Early weaned pigs : Piglet has been permanently separated from the sows 16-21 days of age. This enables the farmer to produce more pigs per sow per year. It also potentially limits the transmission of pathogens.

Feeder Pig : A pig after it has been weaned from the sow, and that are moved out of the nursery, up to approximately 25-40 kg in live weight.

Farrowing : A sow or gilt giving birth.

Farrow-to-finish : A production system where pigs are bred and raised to their slaughter weight.

Finisher : Pigs that are generally above 70 kg live weight, until they are marketed or retained for breeding. (same applies for pigs referred to as "finishing").

Gilt : A young female pig, selected for reproductive purposes, before she has given birth to piglets.

Grower : Pigs generally with live weights of 25-40 kg and 70 kg.

Market hog : A pig weighing more than 54 kg (120 pounds) reared for slaughter.

Isowean : An isowean pig is raised to be approximately 5 kg or 10 pounds (taking about 3 weeks) before being sold to a finisher or moving to a finishing barn.

Mated gilt : A young female pig that has been mated, but has not had a first litter.

Nursery pigs : Where weaned piglets (3-4 weeks) are moved to nursery pens to help them adapt to water and feed.

Piglet : A pig up to the time it is weaned from the sow.

Sow : An adult female pig, which has had one or more litters.

Weaned piglet : Piglet that is no longer fed by its mother until it reaches about 25 to 40 kg live weight.


Breeder : A mature male or female chicken or turkey used for breeding.

Broilers : A chicken that is used for meat production.

Broiler Breeder : A mature male or female chicken used for breeding to produce broiler hatching eggs.

Broiler hatching egg : A fertilized egg to be hatched into broiler.

Brooding : The period after hatch when special care and attention must be given to chicks (e.g. up to 7 days) and poults (e.g. up to 14 days) to ensure their health and survival due to their immature thermal regulation systems.

Chick : A hatched young chicken; usually refers only to the first few days of life when the bird is still covered in down.

Drake : A mature male duck.

Duckling : A hatched, young duck.

Free-Range : A system where laying hens are allowed access to an outdoor pasture or range area.

Free-Run : A system where birds roam freely inside a barn but do not have access to the outdoors.

Gander : An adult male goose.

Gosling : A young male or female goose.

Hatching Egg : A fertilized bird egg that is suitable for incubation and hatching.

Hatchery : A facility that receives hatching eggs from poultry breeder operations and cares for them through storage, incubation, hatching, processing, and holding.

Hen : A female domestic fowl that has reached sexual maturity (e.g. begun to lay eggs).

Incubation : The act of keeping hatching eggs in conditions that are favourable for growth and development in order to hatch them.

Pullet : A young female domestic fowl from the point it is fully feathered and that has not yet reached sexual maturity (i.e. begun to lay eggs).

Poult : A hatched young turkey; usually refers only to the first few days of life when the bird is still covered in down.

Ppm : Parts per million.

Processed eggs : Includes a liquid, dried or frozen food that contains at least 50 % by weight of frozen egg, frozen egg mix, liquid egg, liquid egg mix, dried egg or dried egg mix, but excludes cooked products.

Rooster : A sexually mature male chicken.

Spiker Rooster : A rooster that is introduced to established breeder flocks during production.

Table eggs : Eggs which are sold directly to the consumer, either through retail stores or in restaurants. Table eggs have not undergone any process other than cleaning, sanitation, classification and/or packaging.

Tom : A male turkey used for breeding or meat production.

Turkey Breeder : A mature male or female turkey used for breeding to produce turkey hatching eggs.

Turkey Hen : A female turkey used for breeding or meat production.


Buck : Mature male rabbit.

Doe : Mature female rabbit.

Growing rabbits : Rabbits from weaning to finishing.

Hare : Wild Rabbit. A hare is in the same family as a rabbit. They are generally larger than rabbits and have longer ears and legs.

Kits : Young rabbits from birth to weaning.

Sheep, lamb

Ewe : Mature female sheep.

Lamb : Young sheep typically less than a year old or with fewer than two permanent incisors.

Ovine : Any animal of the ovine species (ram, ewe or lambs).

Ram : Mature male sheep.


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