I had a student tell me the other day about the "cow" they were taking to the fair. They were explaining how it they had castrated it over the weekend. I held up my hand and said, "Stop right there." I knew that this student was in fact not telling me about a "cow," but instead they referencing a "steer." What's the difference? Funny you should ask! Here are some words that will help you sound more intelligent the next time you're standing around the water cooler.
Calf: A young animal of the cattle species (Our calves stay in individual pens at an early age, so we can provide specialized care for them.)
Heifer: A young female that has not yet had offspring (This is Greg's heifer, Barb. Heifers live together in groups on our farm.)
Cow: A female that has had at least one calf (These are two of our lovely cows enjoying a balanced ration.)
Bull: An intact male that is capable of reproducing (This picture is courtesy of NREL. Bulls are used for breeding.)
Steer: A castrated male (Iowa State Extension gets the credit for this picture. Steers are most often raised for meat.)
There you have it: five words you can use to impress your friends with your knowledge of the cattle industry!