Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

100% Grass Fed: The label of last resort for true grass fed beef producers. It means that only grass and hay were fed to the animal for the entire life of the animal. No grain, ever.

Acre: The acre was approximately the amount of land tillable by a yoke of oxen in one day. But seeing that few folks own oxen, and even fewer use them to plow, it was decided that an acre was 43,560 sq. ft. (at least in the U.S).

AI (Artificial Insemination, not Artificial Intelligence): Both are technological substitutes for the real thing, and one can easily be confused for the other.

Alfalfa: Perennial forage related to clover. Cattle and deer both love it.

Angus: Black cattle.

Antibiotics:  There are many antibiotics in a few different forms on the market. Cattle have amazing immune systems of their own. If circumstances warrant antibiotics, we remove that calf from our market beef program.

Balloon: Death to a calf. We find balloons, evidently released by fun loving individuals, in the pastures often. Several times we have had to pull a half eaten balloon from a calf’s mouth. Please never release helium balloons. As fun as it may be, they have to come down somewhere & calves can’t spit.

Banding: The process of turning a bull into a steer using a special rubber band.

Barbed Wire: A fencing material that cattle like to rub on.

Barn/Hay Barn: Farm buildings for livestock and hay storage, essentially.

Beer Bottle: Glass beverage container tossed from passing vehicles often found broken in our pastures and hay field.

Beyond Organic: A term used by self-styled “organic” producers to distinguish themselves from certified organic producers. Technically we could make this claim, but we find it pretentious and unnecessary.

Biodiesel: Diesel fuel made from vegetable oils. Sadly, not a very viable solution to petroleum as it requires airplane fuel to compound.

Blackleg (Gangraena emphysematosa): Blackleg is a highly fatal disease of young cattle caused by the bacteria Clostridium chauvoei.  The spores of the organism can live in the soil for many years.  The bacteria enter the calf by ingestion and then enter the body through small punctures in the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.  The animal usually dies in 12 to 48 hours. We are not taking any chances with this one; thus, we vaccinate for it.

Bluegrass: One of the many cool season grasses is Bluegrass. While it does not make for good hay (too short), it creates a durable sod and is a fine pasture grass. Also, a genre of music popular in the Appalachian region.

Braise: Braising is a cooking method that employs liquid. Pot roasts, short ribs, and similar cuts are best when braised.

Bratwurst: Yummm!!

Breech Birth: When calves are born normally the first thing that shows is the front hooves pointing down. If the hooves are facing up, a breech birth is in progress, indicating that assistance is required (see Calf Pulling).

Brood Herd: A group of cows tasked with having and raising calves.

Broom Sedge: Cattle don’t seem to like to eat this native grass. Appearance of Broom Sedge in a pasture is a sign that the pasture needs lime.

BSE (Bovine Spongioform Encephalopathy): BSE, "mad cow disease", is a progressive degenerative disease that affects to central nervous system of cattle. While the cause of BSE is unknown and there is no known treatment for this fatal disease, prevention is simply a matter of not feeding animal by products to cattle.

Bull: The future of the herd.

Burdock: This close cousin of the thistle produces round burs that cling to everything. Ironically cattle seem to like eating burdock.

Bush Hog: Much like the brand name Zipper has come to refer to all toothed clothing fasteners, Bush Hog is a brand name often used to refer to any mowing attachment for a farm tractor. It is a wonderful tool for mowing pastures and clearing brush.

Butcher: The act of cutting meats in portions; one who does so. A good butcher is essential to the quality of our final product.

Butcher Paper: A white high density craft paper coated with a paraffin coating originally developed for butchers. One might think that using butcher paper is avoiding petroleum products. But the reality is that the coating is petroleum based.

BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhea): BVD is a disease of cattle which reduces productivity and increases death loss. It is caused by a virus. Rotating pastures and working with a closed herd system we don’t worry much about BVD or some of the other more common bovine diseases.

C.A.T. (Cow Action Team): A crack team of bovine distress specialists trained to respond to any bovine emergency, 24/7 (aka Jewell and Robert, and they muddle along the best they can).

CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation): Source for commercial beef. They are very efficient and scientific in their approach to finishing a beef.

Calf Pulling: The act of pulling a calf. Sometimes a cow needs assistance with her birth, especially if the birth is a breech. This involves immobilizing the cow in the working chute and carefully acquiring the two feet (sometimes this means reaching up inside the cow), attaching the pull chain (a smooth chain specifically designed for pulling calves) to the feet, and pulling in time with the cows natural contractions. A full breech requires repositioning the calf.

Cane: A prop to assist with walking and a tool for guiding cattle, much like a shepherd’s crook.

Capon: A capon is the chicken version of a steer.

Cattle Farmer: A rancher without a horse.

Certified Organic: Participant in the USDA organic certification program.

Chainsaw: One of the most useful tools on the farm.

Charloais: A breed of cattle. Charloais are sometimes crossed with Angus to increase size.

Cherry: Wild/Choke Cherries are common trees in this region. When the leaves of a cherry wilt they produce cyanide.  Cattle will die quickly from a small amount of wilted cherry leaves. Pastures are checked regularly and after every wind event for downed cherry limbs, which are cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Chicory: A weed that is claimed to have worming qualities when eaten by cattle.  It has a pretty blue flower.

CLA’s (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): Grass Fed Beef is 300-500% higher in these cancer fighting fatty acids.

Clover: Clover is a legume that cattle love to eat. White and Red Clovers dominate most of our pastures and hay land. Clover also adds nitrogen to the soil, which benefits the surrounding grasses.

Clover Bloat: Sometimes a calf eating a large amount of clover when it is not accustomed to clover can bloat. Gases accumulate in foam in its stomachs and must be released. The calf will eventually suffocate if not treated immediately. Treatment consists of either a tube into the stomach or an incision in the side, or both to relieve the pressure.

Coccidiosis: Chicken diarrhea.

Colostrum: The first milk a cow gives her calf. It is necessary for the calf’s survival as it contains antibodies and extra nutrients.

Conserve: A fancy name for chunky jam.

COOL (Country Of Origin Labeling): A controversial regulation amongst cattlemen, especially the big guys.

Cow:  An adult female bovine.

Cow Psychology: The science of the bovine mind is important to low stress handling and management. We call it by its older name, “Cow Sense”.

Cow/Calf: A term used to describe a cattle operation that births calves and sells them as weanlings (6 months, or so).

Coyote: Chicken thief and cat murderer.

Craftsmanship: “Measure twice, cut once.” For the craftsman the art of creating is as important, or more important, than even the final product. Craftsmanship demands that the easy way is not necessarily the best way. This is one of the many reasons we raise our beef from birth. It is the only beef we could sell with any confidence in quality.

Cryovac: Packaging process for our beef, involving vacuum packaging and flash freezing.

Cube Steak: Cubed Steaks are mechanically tenderized cuts, usually made from Round Steaks.

Cud: What a cow chews.

Cull Cow: A cow that is permanently removed from the herd for one reason or another.

Cured/Uncured Sausage: Summer Sausage is cured/Bratwurst is not.

Custom Butcher: Non USDA inspected processing.

Dry Aging: The process Dry Aging, hanging a beef in a chilled, humidity control cooler provides many benefits to the final product. Through enzyme action and drying the beef; flavors are intensified and tenderness improved. One of the less commonly known benefits of the dry aging process is bacterial control. The sides of beef are washed with a light acid (some use vinegar) solution prior to hanging in the cooler. E-coli and other bacteria cannot survive such an environment.

Ear Tag: Ear tags are used as a means of identifying individual animals.

Electric Fencing: Fencing that gives off an electric shock when touched.

Electro-ejaculation: Not touching this one.

Electro-prod: Evil device that gives an intense electric shock. We do not use them and have canceled slaughtering appointments when we discover a processor might use them.

Farmland Protection: We entered our farm into the Farmland Protection Program for the legal protections it affords our farm from local aggressive governments looking to annex or condemn via eminent domain. It also puts the farm under a conservation easement guaranteeing that the land will never be subdivided or developed commercially.

Fat Cover: The external fat on a carcass is considered Fat Cover. Good fat cover is essential for high quality beef. It keeps a carcass from drying out during the aging process. And if there is no fat cover, there will likely be no marbling.

Fatty Acids: In chemistry, and especially in biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long aliphatic tail, which is either saturated or unsaturated.

Feeder: Feeder calves are old enough to be sent to a feedlot for finishing, in the commercial system. This is a commercial term used to refer to calves of a certain age and size, usually yearlings but more specific.

Feedlot: Feedlots are used in commercial beef production. They are an efficient way to feed a large number of cattle in a small space. We don’t use a feedlot in our beef production.

Fence: A sham used to fool livestock into believing they can’t just roam where ever they wish.

Fence Stretcher: A tool used to stretch wire fencing; not to be confused with the fictional tool known as a board stretcher.

Flavenoid: Tasteful molecules largely stored in fat cells.

Fly Tag: Ear Tags with pesticide, similar in function and technology to a flea collar. We do not use Fly Tags.

Foot Rot: An infection that usually starts in the hoof area. Foot Rot can cause lameness and possibly death if left untreated.

Free Martin:  A term that refers to a heifer that has undeveloped reproductive organs. This occurs when a female calf has a male twin at some point in the gestation period (the male might have died and been absorbed). The testosterone from the male affects the development of the female.

Freezer Burn: This is what happens to ones fingers when handling frozen meat for a couple hours without wearing gloves. Also happens to meat wrapped in butcher paper.

Fresh Beef: Fresh Beef is that, simply fresh beef. If the beef has ever been frozen, it is not fresh.

Galloway: A heritage breed of cattle.

Gestation: The time required to make a baby. Cows require 283 days on average, key word being “average”.

GMO/GE: Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be.

Grades of Beef: The USDA grades beef based on marbling and maturity based on observation of the ribeye cross section and development of cartilage and bone, mostly in the area of the vertebrae. The four basic grades of beef are: Standard, Select, Choice, and Prime.

Grading: A carcass is graded by the grader visually judging the amount of marbling in the Ribeye.

Grant Money: Some farmers apply for, and accept grant money from the state (government). We are morally opposed to this process, as we feel this money is taken from someone against their will. We think that using the “system” just perpetuates it and indentures future generations to the state. We have no problem with private grants, as this money is volunteered.

Grass Fed: Should now read “Primarily Grass Fed”. The USDA in its definition for “Grass Fed” allows for grain “supplements” during times when forage is scare (winter/drought). Thus, in our opinion, much like organic, this label is now somewhat meaningless.

Grass Finished: “Finishing” in the cattle business refers to the last 120 days or so prior to slaughter. This label is most often used by producers that purchase animals from other farmers and “finish” them on grass or hay. This label gives no indication of whether hormones or antibiotics were given to the animal, or if the animal was fed a grain supplement prior to “finishing”.

Grass Tetany: Cows on lush spring grasses, particularly fresh cows, are susceptible to Grass Tetany. Mineral deficiencies of either Magnesium or Calcium, or both, are the cause of Grass Tetany. Symptoms include staggering, shaking, and paralysis. Grass Tetany can be largely prevented by offering free choice Trace Mineral Salt and by avoiding dramatic changes of diet, dry hay to fresh spring grass.

Green Manure: Basically grass clippings.

Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation: A taxpayer funded government entity that provides grants, training, web development, marketing and organizational assistance to small developing businesses, including farmers. We do not use these services as a matter of principle.

Grill: Hot spot for creating mouth watering, tender, juicy Sarver Heritage Farm steaks and burgers.

Ground Hog: Like many felons and malicious people, ground hogs have several aliases: Marmot, Whistle Pig, Woodchuck, Moonack, and even Land Beaver.

Handmade: Objects that are handmade are created with the use of hands and hand tools. Each is created individually and is unique for that reason.

Hanging/Carcass Weight: Hanging Weight is the weight of the carcass before it goes into the cooler for dry aging.

Hay: Forages that are preserved, either by drying or fermenting, are referred to as hay. When hay is dried or cured its nutrients are preserved. We put great effort in producing the best hay possible, as this is just another part of the process of creating the best beef possible.

Hay Fever: Sneezie, runny nose, itchy eye festival.

Haylage: Forages that are baled with 50% moisture, plastic wrapped, and allowed to ferment like silage are referred to as Haylage. We do not use this practice, we are not keen on using the plastic wrap, as well as economic reasons.

Head Gate/Squeeze Chute: Tools to safely confine a bovine during medical procedures and examinations.

Heifer: A cow that has not given birth to a calf is called a heifer.

Hen: An adult female chicken.

Herd: A socially connected bunch of cattle.

Hereford: An English breed of beef cattle.

Highlands: Not really mountains and not really foothills. Good for raising grass and livestock.

Highland Cattle: Cattle with roots in the Scottish Highlands. They are shaggy with long horns and look like Muppets.

Hobby Farmer: Someone who does not make a substantive living from their farm.

Homemade: Something that is made in one’s home with one’s own hands.

Hormones: When we use this term we are referring to injected or implanted manmade growth promoting hormones in cattle.

Horned: Cattle with horns

Idiot: A young calf without its mother.

Incubator: Hatching zone.

Intern: Unpaid interns are the modern slaves of some farmers, and other businesses.

Jam/Jelly: Yum!!!

Karst: Also known as Karst Topography, Karst is a geological feature dominated by old limestone. Sinkholes, caves and rock outcroppings are common features of Karst.

Kosher: Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of kashrut (Jewish dietary law).

Lepto: Leptospirosis is an infectious bacterial disease of most farm animals and many wildlife species. In cattle, leptospirosis can produce an abortion rate of up to 30 percent when it occurs during the final third of pregnancy. It may also be responsible for high mortality among young calves, decreased milk production, and blood-contaminated milk. Severity in adult cattle is extremely variable, ranging from inapparent infection to 5 percent mortality. The causative organisms, called Leptospires, are shed in urine and survive in surface water, streams, or moist, alkaline soil.

Limousin: A breed of cattle that originally was bred as oxen. In modern times the Limousin breed has been bred with Angus cattle to increase the size of the Angus breed. Due to this, over the years Angus cows have gone from 800 -900 lbs. to 1200 – 1400 lbs. 

Live Weight: Live Weight is the weight of the live animal at any given time. As a new born, they average 50 lbs. The beef will weigh 1,000, or more, at time of slaughter.

Live Dangerously: When a calf tries to nurse its mother from behind, we say that calf is living dangerously.

Locust: A very useful hardwood, the Locust. It is more durable than treated wood for posts, lasting two to three times longer. Locust was also used in wooden ship building as ‘nails’ hold planks to the ribs. They were baked and hardened, so they could be driven with a hammer. When they got wet, they swell and became tighter.

Manure: The black gold of sustainable, organic farming. Cows make it from what they eat. And manure sounds much better than poop.

Marbling: The Holy Grail in grass fed beef production. Marbling requires good genetics and good pastures. Great marbling requires great genetics and really good pastures, weight gain of 2-3 pounds per day is essential.

Marmalade: A sticky fruit spread involving citrus.

Market Beef: These are the animals that we raise and finish for eventual retail sale. While it is rare that we have to treat an animal with antibiotics, it does happen. A treated animal is removed from our Market Beef Program and sold into the “system” after the animal is well and off antibiotics (not sure why that is important as they will likely get fed antibiotics where ever they end up).

Mastitis: A disease that affects a cow’s udder and teats. We have had only a couple cases of this in the past the vet recommended solution is: antibiotics and hand milking out the affected quarter (udders have four quarters) daily (see also, Stripping).

Mattock: A tool dating back to ancient times. It is very useful for digging and grubbing large weeds. It is what passes for herbicide on our farm.

Meaties: Chickens raised for meat. Our breed of choice is a French meat bird called Freedom Rangers.

Milk Replacer: Sometimes a calf becomes orphaned and needs to be bottle fed. Milk replacer is basically powdered milk (just add water) for baby animals.

Mob Grazing: Mob grazing is a grazing practice that is also known as intensive grazing. Basically it involves placing a large group of cattle on a pasture small enough to feed them for one day, usually controlled by moveable electric fencing.

Monkey Butt: See Springing.

Mouthing: The easiest way to determine the age of a bovine is to look in its mouth. The number and wear of the teeth indicate the age.

Natural: In labeling terminology the word “Natural” means that no artificial substances are added to a product. It is a broad term without much meaning and in regards to beef is undefined by the USDA.

Nipple Drinker: A watering device for chickens.

Nose Ring: Some farmers put rings in the noses of their bulls (really) to maintain better control of the animal. We do not do such things. Our bulls are calm and manageable.

NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation District): The NRCS oversees several programs, including the Farmland Protection Program.

Orchard Grass: A cool season grass that cattle love to eat. Orchard grass makes up a large portion of our pastures and hay meadow.

Organ Meats/Offal/Orts and Gobbits: Liver, heart, kidneys, and tongues are considered “offal” or “organ meats”. Organ meats are considered the most nutrient dense of all the parts of a beef.

Organic: An overused buzz word that has lost its original meaning over time.

Package Weight: After all the beef has been processed into individual cuts and grinds, Package Weight is the final yield from a carcass.

Paleo Diet: Any diet that is based on grass fed meats is one that we support.

Pasteurized Milk: Also known as dead milk, pasteurized milk was first created in Chicago as way to make use of dirty milk that could not be sold at the market. This cleaned up milk was then given to the poor. Pasteurization is a process that heats milk to a certain temperature for a certain period of time. This process kills both good and bad bacteria, and changes the protein structure of the milk.

Pasture: A pasture is a place where our cattle graze. It is where our calves are born and raised, eating what nature provides. A pasture is where our market beef are finished. Our pastures average 30 acres, and most are wooded, which provide shelter in bad weather and shade from the hot sun. We apply no chemicals to our pastures. We do clip them (see Bush Hog)

Pastured: To us, Pastured” means that the animal spent its entire life on pasture, casually munching on tall lush green grass. But a pastured animal can still be fed grain or injected with growth enhancing hormones and antibiotics. Ours are not.

Pink Slime: Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), aka Pink Slime, uses what once was sold as scraps for dog food via heating, centrifuging, and ammonia gassing to create ‘ground beef’. LFTB is then mixed with ground beef to reduce costs. This can be found in public schools or any package of commercial beef that says “Ground Beef”. Note that Ground Beef is cuts of lean muscle meat ground into burger. Ground Beef is NOT heated, centrifuged, and gassed with ammonia hydroxide. And, yes, ammonia hydroxide is the same as the ammonia you buy for household cleaning.

Pinkeye: A bacterial infection in a cow’s eye usually caused by an irritant, like a dry grass seed husk. Pinkeye can be transferred to humans. There are several treatments, including antibiotics. We have discovered that cod liver oil is an effective treatment that accelerates the healing via the cow’s natural immune system.

Polled: Cattle that are naturally hornless are referred to as polled.

Post Driver: A device used to drive posts into the ground. We employ both manual and hydraulic post drivers.

Pour On/Delice: A pesticide product that is poured on the backs of the animals to control insect pests like flies. We have found that good pasture management (rotation, etc) is a better means of controlling flies.

Preg Check: The most reliable and cost efficient way of checking a pregnancy status is by physical examination. The process requires a shoulder length glove, but an experienced vet can tell not only if a cow is pregnant, but also how far along she is.

Primals: The major sections of a beef are called primals. The primals are: chuck, brisket, plate, shank, rib, short loin, flank, sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and round.

Private Reserve: Much like a winery will occasionally produce a superior vintage, we will produce a beef that is just a cut above the rest, deserving of special consideration. The best of the best we label as “Private Reserve”.

Protein Tub: A molasses based lick tub, often fed as a supplement to grass fed cattle. We see this practice to be very similar to feeding grain. We simply don’t use them.

Pull Chains: Specially designed chains for pulling a calf.

Pullet: A hen that has yet to lay an egg.

Race Baby: Any calf running with abandon around the pasture.

Rancher: A cattle farmer with a horse.

Raw Milk: Unpasteurized milk, the good stuff.

Residential Envelope: The official name for the 2 acres where our house is located.

Rhinoceros: A cow that becomes too fat to breed.

Roast: In this case roasting is a cooking process, with a “roast” being a piece of meat specifically cut to be roasted, not an event where panel of folks lovingly make fun of an individual.

Rooster: A male chicken, usually high on testosterone.

Rose Veal: Veal produced from 10 – 14 month old calves.

Rotate Pastures: Moving cattle from one pasture to another, allowing pastures to rest and grow. Rotating pastures also cuts down on diseases and pests (flies).

Round Bale: A bale of hay that is rolled rather than compacted. Our round bales weigh 800 – 1000 lbs. A bale will feed approximately 30 cows for a day.

Rye Grass: A species of grass that comes in two basic varieties, perennial and annual. We mix annual rye seed with orchard grass seed when we sow damaged sections of pasture. The annual rye germinates quickly and prevents weeds from sprouting and soil erosion.

Scours: Diarrhea that mostly affects calves and can lead to death. Easily prevented by keeping cattle on clean pastures.

Shrinkage: When a carcass is hanging during the dry aging process, it loses moisture resulting in shrinkage.

Silage: Chopped and fermented corn.

Simmetal:  A large continental milking breed that has been crossed with Angus to increase both size and milking capacity.

Sink/Sink Hole: Common in Karst Topography. Essentially a sink hole is a collapsed cave.

Slaughter House/Processor: The place where animals become meat. Finding the right processor is essential to the quality of the final product.

Sorting Pen/s: These are small paddock/pens that we use for sorting cattle. They are designed with rounded corners and other stress reducing features.

Springing: When a cow begins to prepare for the labor of calving and shows visible signs.

Square Bale: About 40 – 60 lbs of hay are compressed into rectangular shaped bales tied with twine and sometimes wire to form what is referred to as a “Square Bale”.

Staple/Steeple: Used to nail wire fencing to wooden supports. Locally, staple is pronounced steeple. You can purchase them with barbs; or as some say here, jaggers.

Steak Burger: Technically, burger made from ground steak. Sounds good, but in reality any part of a beef made be made into a steak. So really, it’s just ground beef. The USDA does not recognize “Steak Burger” as a legitimate label.

Steer: A neutered bull.

Stocker: A commercial beef term referring to beef that are between weanling age and finishing age, 8 to 14 months.

Stockyard: An auction house for livestock.

Subsidy: Welfare for farmers.

Sustainable: One of those over used buzz words especially amongst local producers to describe their production methods. A sustainable farm is also fiscally sustainable. If a farm depends on grants, subsidies, interns, volunteer labor, outside inputs, etc; it is not what we consider “sustainable”.

Switch: The long hairs at the end of a cow’s tail.

Tall Fescue: A cool season grass. Most tall fescue contains an endophyte that is harmful to horses; and cattle, if the conditions are right. It is hardier than orchard grass and makes a good stockpiled forage for winter pastures. Cold temperatures and frosts drive the endophyte into the root system and concentrates sugars in the grass making it more palatable to cattle.

Teat: The faucet that calves drink from.

Timothy Grass: A cool season grass that cattle love.

Trace Mineral Salt: Most herd animals visit salt licks for the minerals. We provide these essential minerals in the form of trace mineral salt; free choice, meaning it is available to them all the time.

Tuberculosis: A disease that has basically been eliminated from the US beef herd.

Umami: The fifth taste. Sweet, Sour, Salt, Bitter and Umami (Savory) make up the tastes that most human can sense. Umami is that Savory flavor that is associated with a great steak.

Upton Sinclair – “The Jungle”: A piece of socialistic propaganda in the form of a fictional novel based in the stockyards and meat packing plants of Chicago. This piece of fiction inspired the meat packers to lobby for the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. It was also the beginning of the demise of the small processor.

USDA/FDA/FSIS: Alphabet agencies of the federal government.

Veal: Meat from a calf (2 days old to a couple months), usually dairy calves are butchered for veal.

Veterinarian: Doctor for animals.

Warm Season Grass: Species of grasses that prefer warm or hot temperatures. Bermuda grass is an example of a warm season grass.

Weanling: A calf roughly 6 – 12 months old.

Wet Aging: A modern aging process that lasts about seven days, essentially the time it takes for beef to be shipped from slaughter house to retail meat counter. Primal sections are packaged in plastic and cooled. There is very little moisture loss with this practice and no benefit is had in regards to pathogen control.

Wet Weather Spring: A spring that appears during the spring melt and rainy periods, another common feature of Karst Topography.

Yearling: Like horses, yearling cattle are aged 12 – 23 months old.

Zebra: Not a breed of cattle.