backcross - Mating of a two-breed crossbred offspring back to one of its parental breeds.

backfat - Amount of fat over the animal's back, usually measured at the twelfth to thirteenth rib.

backgrounding - Growing program (grazing or fed harvested feed) for feeder cattle from time calves are weaned until they are on a finishing ration in the feedlot.

balance sheet - Financial statement that summarizes assets, liabilities, and net worth at a specific point in time.  Also called a net worth statement.

balling gun - Instrument inserted into the animal's throat to discharge pills.

Bang's disease - See brucellosis.

barren - Incapable of producing offspring.

basis - Difference between the cash market price and the futures market price.

BCS - See body condition score.

BCTRC - Boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts from round, loin, rib, and chuck.

beef - Meat from cattle (bovine species) other than calves.  Meat from calves is called veal.

beef belt - Area of the United States where commercial beef production, slaughtering, and processing are concentrated.

Beef Breeds Council - National organization of beef breed associations.

beef checkoff program - Beef Promotion and Research Act established in October 1986.  Each time cattle are marketed, $1 per head is paid by the seller to the Beef Industry Council (BIC).  Money is used in promotion, research, and education.  Generates approximately $70 million per year.

Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) - A federation of organizations, businesses, and individuals interested or involved in performance evaluation of beef cattle.

Beef promotion and research program - See beef checkoff program.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) - Program(s) designed to help beef producers assure that their production methods are not causing defects in beef products.

BIF - See Beef Improvement Federation.

bioeconomic trait - Any biological trait of economic importance.

biological efficiency - Ratio of physical input to physical output (e.g., pounds of feed per 100 lb of gain).

biological type - Usually refers to size of cattle (large, medium, or small), growth rate, milk production (high, medium, or low), and age a puberty.

biotechnology - Use of microorganisms, plant cells, and animal cells or parts of cells (such as enzymes) to produce industrially important products or processes.

birth weight (BW or B.Wt.) - Weight of the calf taken within 24 hours after birth.

birth weight EPD - The expected average increase or decrease in birth weight (lb) of a bull's calves when compared to other bulls in the same sire summary.  A plus figure indicates an increase in birth weight, while a negative value is a decrease.  The value is a measure of calving ease.  See also expected progeny difference (EPD).

birth weight ratio - Compares the individual birth weight of a calf to the herd average.  Usually calculated within sex.

bloat - Abnormal condition characterized by a distention of the rumen, usually seen on the left side, due to an accumulation of gases.

"bloom" - Haircoat usually has a luster (shine) that gives the appearance of a healthy animal.

BLUP - Best linear unbiased prediction method for estimating the breeding values of breeding animals.

body condition score (BCS) - A visual score (usually 1 = thin; 9 = very fat) for body fatness which is related to postpartum interval in beef females.

bolus - (1) Regurgitated food.  (2) Large pill for treating cattle.

Bos indicus - Zebu (humped) cattle, including the Brahman breed in the United States.

Bos taurus - Includes most cattle found in the United States and their European ancestors.

bovine - Refers to a general family grouping of cattle.

bovine spongiform encephalopathy - A degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of cattle.

bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) - Viral disease in cattle that can cause diarrhea, lesions of the digestive tract, repeat breeding, abortion, mummification, and congenital defects.

boxed beef - Cuts of beef put in boxes for shipping from packing plant to retailers.  These primal (rounds, loins, ribs, and chucks) and subprimal cuts are intermediate cuts between the carcass and retail cuts.

BQA - See Beef Quality Assurance.

brand - (1) Permanent identification of cattle, usually made on the hide with hot-iron or freeze branding.  (2) Process of branding.

branded beef product - A specifically labeled product that is differentiated from commodity items by its brand name.  Certified Angus Beef, Laura’s Lean, or Cattlemen’s Collection are examples.

breakeven price - Volume of output required for revenue to equal the total of fixed and variable expenses.

breaking - Cutting carcasses into primal and subprimal cuts.

bred - Female has been mated to a bull, usually assumed to be pregnant.

breech - Buttocks.  A breech presentation at birth occurs when the rear portion of the fetus is presented first.

breed - Cattle of common origin and having characteristics that distinguish them from other groups within the same species.

breed - complimentarity  Combining breeds to take advantage of breed superiority for specific traits.

breeder - In most beef breed associations, the owner of the dam of a calf at the time she was mated or bred to produce that calf.

breeding soundness examination (BSE) - Evaluation of the reproductive potential of the bull giving the reproductive trait; a physical examination, measuring involves scrotal circumference, and evaluating a semen sample for motility and morphology.

breeding value - Value of an animal as a parent.  The working definition is twice the difference in performance between a very large number of progeny and the population average when individuals are mated at random within the population and all progeny are managed alike.  The difference is doubled because only a sample half (one gene of each pair) is transmitted from a parent to each progeny. 

brisket disease - Noninfectious disease of cattle characterized by congestive right heart failure.  It affects animals residing at high altitudes (usually above 7,000 ft).  Sometimes referred to as "high mountain disease" or "high altitude disease."

British breeds - Breeds of cattle, such as Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn, orginating in Great Britain.

brockle-faced - White-faced with other colors splotched on the face and head.

broken mouth - Some teeth are missing or broken.

broker - Individual or firm that buys and sells options, futures contracts, and stocks and bonds for a commission fee.

browse - Woody or brushy plants (e.g., sagebrush, shadscale, and other shrubs and bushes).  Cattle feed on the tender shoots or twigs.

brucellosis - Contagious bacterial disease that results in abortions; also called Bang's disease.

BSE - See breeding soundness examination or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

budget - Financial form used to examine alternative plans for a beef operation and to estimate the profitability of each alternative.

bull - Bovine male.  The term usually denotes animals of breeding age.

buller-steer syndrome - Behavior problem in which a steer is sexually attracted to other steers in the pen.  The steer is ridden by the other steers, resulting in poor performance and injury.

bulling - Term describing a cow or heifer in estrus.

bullock - Young bull, typically less than 20 months of age.

butt-branded - Hides from cattle that are hot-iron branded on the hip.

buttons - May refer to cartilage on dorsal processes of the thoracic vertebrae.  See also cotyledon.

BVD - See bovine viral diarrhea.

bypass protein - Feed protein that escapes microbial degradation in the rumen and is digested in the small intestine.

by-product - Product of considerably less value than the major product.  For example, the hide and offal are by-products while beef is the major product.

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Mark Spurgin
Nebraska Rancher