Veterinary Glossary


Abortion: Abnormal or early termination of pregnancy.

Acidosis (grain overload): When the pH of the rumen is abnormally low (<5.5). Signs of disease may include diarrhea, with or without blood.

Acute: Any process occurring over a short period of time.

Adjuvant(s): Carriers used in vaccines to increase immune responses. Often these components are the cause of allergic reactions.

Aged: A term applied to an animal that is past the most productive period of its life for a particular set of conditions, generally 5 years of age or older.

Anemia: The lack of red blood cells in the body. Anemia can be the result of loss, destruction, and/or decreased production of red blood cells.

Anestrous Period: The time when the female does not cycle or exhibit estrus (heat); the non-breeding season.

Angora Goat: Species originally bred in Asia Minor, later introduced into South Africa, (Cape Colony) Texas, California and elsewhere. Produces mohair fiber.

Anthelmintic: A product fed or administered to an animal to disrupt the life-cycle of one or a group of internal parasites in an effort to eliminate the parasite.

Antibody: Protein molecules produced by the immune system that provide protection from infectious viruses or bacteria.

Anorexia: A loss of appetite or desire to eat.

Apron: (1) The large fold of skin a Merino ram carries in front of the neck. (2) A piece of material suspended under a "teaser" ram to prevent normal breeding.

Arrhythmia: Any deviation from a normal heart rhythm. Deviations may include abnormal heart rate, pattern, or differences in electrical activity.

Artery: A blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart.

Aspirate: The collection of fluid from a mass via needle suction.

Atrium: A chamber of the heart. Sheep and goats have two atria, right and left.

Autogenous Vaccines: Vaccine made from organisms collected from a specific disease outbreak.


Bacterium: The singular form of bacteria.

Bale: A package of wool in a standard wool pack for shipment. The common farm bale weighs between 200 and 450 lbs.

Band: A group of sheep or goats usually over 1,000 head.

Blackface Breeds: Meat breeds of sheep.

Billy: A male goat usually used for breeding. Also called a buck.

Booster Vaccination: A second or multiple vaccination given to increase an animal’s resistance to a specific disease.

Branding: Sheep branding is the placing of a registered brand on the sheep with a branding fluid for purposes of identification. Firebrands are sometimes placed on the face or horns of sheep.

Breech Birth: A birth in which the hind feet of the young are presented first.

Brisket: The breast of the sheep or goat, just below the throat.

Britch or Breech: The back portion of the sheep down the hind leg, the buttocks.

Brockle-face or Smutt-face: Commercial crossbred lambs from white-faced wool breed dams and black-faced sires, i.e. Suffolk, Hampshire or Suffolk-Hampshire cross.

Broken Mouth: An animal is described as "broken mouthed" when some of the incisor teeth have fallen out or have become badly worn and irregular, usually the result of old age or hard grazing.

Buck: A male goat used for breeding. In the United States, this term is sometimes used to refer to a male sheep.

Bummer/Orphan/Leppy: A lamb that is not raised by its mother; usually it is raised on a bottle and/or artificial feeding system.


Cabrito: The meat from 5 to 6 month old kids weighing approximately 30 to 40 pounds live weight.

Calculi: Describing a variety of stones that are found in the urinary system. These include kidney and bladder stones.

Capillary: The smallest vessels where nutrients, oxygen, and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the tissues.

Capillary Refill Time (CRT): The amount of time it takes the gums to return to normal after being "blanched out." Normal CRT is less than 2 seconds. If longer than 2 seconds, the blood circulation throughout the body may be compromised due to shock, dehydration, or other cardiovascular problems.

Caprine: Pertaining to goats.

Cardiovascular: Refers to the heart and blood vessels of the body.

Cashmere: Very soft, fine fiber from the Kashmir goat of India. The undergrowth, known as pashmina, is one of the finest animal fibers known.

Castrate: To remove the testicles of a male.

Catheter: A hollow, tubular medical device that is placed into a body part (such as a vein or urinary bladder) for the removal or administration of fluids.

CC (cubic centimeter): A volume measurement identical to mL.

Cheviot: A breed of sheep.

Chromosomes: Thread-like bodies of material, found in the nucleus of a cell, which carry genes and segregate during the production of sex cells. The chromosomes are arranged in pairs, and the two members of a pair are similar in shape.

Chronic: Any process occurring over a long period of time.

Classing: (1) The process of culling and selection applied to a flock/herd of animals. (2) A term applied to the grading of males according to sale value. (3) The division of a flock/herd of females into various groups prior to mating.

Colic: General abdominal pain. The source of the pain can be the liver, kidneys, intestines, stomach, etc.

Colostrum: First fluid secreted by the udder for a few days pre- and postpartum. High in antibodies, this milk protects newborn lambs or kids against disease.

Complete Blood Count (CBC): A test used to identify red and white blood cells. Often, this test is used when looking for infection or in animals suspected of having a low red blood cell count (anemia).

Concentrate: A high energy feed, usually a grain or grain by-product such as corn or barley.

Congenital: Present at birth. Birth defects are usually referred to as congenital.

Constipation: A condition in which the contents of the large intestines (bowels) are discharged at abnormally long intervals or with difficulty.

Corriedale: A New Zealand breed of sheep. A Lincoln-Merino cross, also used in Australia and South America.

Creep: A feeding area where young animals can feed but adults are excluded.

Crossbreeding: Mating of animals from two distinct breeds to produce a half-bred.

Crude Protein: The total amount of protein in a feed, expressed as a percentage of the feed. Crude protein is further subdivided into soluble, degradable, undegradable, bypass, and bound protein fractions.

Crutching or Tagging (verb): The act of shearing wool from the breech area and hind legs and sometimes the belly.

Cryptorchid: A testicle that fails to descend is called a cryptorchid testicle. An animal in this condition is called a cryptorchid.

Cubic Centimeter (CC): A volume measurement identical to milliliter (mL).

Culling: The process of removing an inferior sheep or goat from a flock/herd.

Culls: The rejected sheep or goats from a flock/herd.

Cwt.: An abbreviation for 100 pounds of weight.


Dam: The maternal parent or mother.

Debilitated: A weakened or sick condition.

Definitive Diagnosis: The precise recognition of a specific disease.

Dental Pad: A normal extension of the gums on the front part of the upper jaw. It is a substitute for top front teeth.

Diastole: The resting phase of the heart. During this time the ventricles fill with blood.

Distal: A structure that is further from the main body. For example, the three bones in the foot are designated by the terms proximal, middle, and distal, depending on their location relative to the main body.

Diuresis: Increased urine production. This can occur naturally in the animal, or can be induced using special drugs or fluid administration.

Dock (noun): Stub end of a sheep’s tail.

Docking (verb): To remove the sheep’s tail.

Doe: A female goat.

Dominant Gene: A gene that is expressed when present either in its heterozygous or homozygous form.

Drench: A means of giving liquid by mouth.

Drop Band or Bunch: These are smaller groups of animals separated from a larger herd or flock.

Dry Ewe/doe: A female that is not producing milk.

Dual Purpose: Sheep that have been bred and selected for the economic production of both wool and mutton.

Dystocia: Abnormal or difficult labor, causing difficulty in delivering the fetus.


Earmark: A distinctive mark clipped out of the ear of an animal.

Echocardiography or Echocardiogram: A technique that examines the heart using ultrasonic sound waves produced by an ultrasound machine. An image is produced of the valves, muscle walls, and internal structures of the heart.

Edema: Fluid swelling that can accumulate anywhere in the body.

Emaciation: Loss of flesh resulting in extreme leanness.

Endocarditis: When the endocardium or inner surface of the heart becomes inflamed or irritated.

Energy: The amount of calories available in a feed.

Environment: All of the conditions an animal is subjected to, i.e. climate, housing, pastures, range, disease, parasites, management, etc.

Epididymis: Tubules that carry sperm from the male’s testicles to the vas deferens.

Eructate (belch): The usual passage of gas out of the rumen.

Ewe: A female sheep.

Exudate: A thick fluid that is produced in response to a disease or infection.


Fecal Flotation: A procedure, performed by a veterinarian, used to identify various parasite eggs in a fecal (manure) sample.

Feces: The manure or excrement produced by an animal.

Fetotomy: Dissection of a dead fetus into smaller pieces to allow for easier removal from the mother.

Fetus: An unborn animal.

Fiber: The portion of a feed that is indigestible or slowly digested by ruminants. May be expressed as crude fiber, non-detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, or effective fiber.

Finishing: The act of feeding an animal to produce a desirable carcass for market.

Fleece: The coat of the sheep usually removed as one unit. The term "fleece" correctly applies only to wool fabrics, although there are so-called fleeces of other fibers.

Flock: A group of sheep or goats usually less than 1,000 head.

Flushing: Increasing the plane of nutrition of a ewe/doe before and during the breeding season in an attempt to increase the number of ovulations.

Fly Strike: The condition produced by the development of blowfly maggots on the living sheep. (Cutaneous myiasis).

Forage: A high fiber plant, such as hay or corn silage, that is used for feed.

Foster Mother: A mother that is rearing a lamb or kid other than her own.

Free Choice (ad libitum): Feed made available to an animal at all times (same as self-fed).


Gestation: The period of development of the fetus throughout the pregnancy.

Glomerulonephritis: Inflammation of the kidney, beginning at the level of the thousands of microscopic glomeruli. The glomeruli are the tiny filters which allow only fluid and toxic compounds to pass from the bloodstream into the urinary tract to be excreted from the body.

Graft: A procedure in which a mother raises a newborn that is not her own.

Grain Overload (acidosis): See acidosis.

Gram Negative: Categorizing bacteria according to the color they appear (red) when stained by a particular process. Some gram negative bacteria are E. coli and Klebsiella.

Gram Positive: Categorizing bacteria according to the color they appear (blue) when stained by a particular process. Some gram positive bacteria are Staphylococcus spp. and Streptococcus spp.

Granny Ewe: When a pregnant ewe close to lambing tries to claim another ewe’s newborn lamb.


Hemorrhage: Bleeding or blood loss.

Hematuria: Blood in the urine. The blood may or may not be seen with the naked eye.

Heritability: The heritability of a characteristic is a measure of how easily a trait will be expressed in an animal’s offspring.

Heterozygote: An animal is said to be heterozygous for a certain gene if both sites at which the gene might be expected are occupied by different genes.

Heterozygous: Adjective of heterozygote.

Histology or Histopathology: The process of evaluating specially prepared (tissue) samples using a microscope. These samples are often taken from tissues collected from an aborted fetus sent in for evaluation.

Homozygote: An animal is said to be homozygous for a certain gene if both sites at which the gene might be expected are occupied by that gene.

Homozygous: Adjective of homozygote.

Hormone: The secretion of a ductless gland that activates some other organ.

Hydrops: An abnormality during pregnancy where the uterus retains large amounts of water. This can be caused by defects in the fetus and/or in the mother.

Hypermotile: Something that is overactive.

Hypomotile: Something that is not as active as it normally should be.


Icterus: A yellow discoloration of the gums and white of the eye that is often associated with liver problems and some types of anemia.

Idiopathic: When the exact cause of the problem or disease is not known.

IM: See intramuscular.

Immunity: Protection from disease that comes as a result of the body’s normal immune system response. The body’s immune system can provide disease protection because of prior vaccinations or previous exposure to an infectious organism.

IN: See intranasal.

Indications for Use: The situations when and how a specific product can be used.

Intramuscular (IM): The route of administration of an injection. Use of this term would indicate that the injection should be given through the skin and into a muscle.

Intranasal (IN): The spraying or administering of a solution into the nostrils.

Intravenous (IV): The route of administration of medications or fluids. Use of this term would indicate that the substance should be given into a vein.

IV: See intravenous.


Jaundice: Yellow coloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and secretions.

Johnes Disease (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis): A bacterial disease causing severe weight loss and sometimes diarrhea.

Jug or Jail: An enclosed area (4 X 4 or 5 X 5 foot pen) where a mother and her offspring are put for the first 24 to 72 hours after birth.


Kid: Immature goat (male or female).

Kidding: Does giving birth to young.

Killed Vaccine: A particular vaccine that contains no live disease causing components. These vaccines are safe to give to pregnant animals and also to animals in close association with pregnant animals.


Lactation: The period during which a ewe or doe is producing milk.

Lamb: A young sheep still with its mother or up to about 5 months of age. Also a young sheep of either sex under 1 year of age.

Lambing: Ewes giving birth to young.

Lamb Marking: The act of earmarking, docking, and castrating lambs.

Larvae: Immature stages of an adult parasite; the term applies to insects, ticks, and worms.

Lethargy or Lethargic: An animal which is slow to react, lacks energy, and is often sick.

Libido: Usually refers to the male’s sex drive.

Lutalyse (PGF2a or Prostaglandin): A hormone used for estrus synchronization, infected uteruses, and inducing abortion.


Maiden Ewe or Doe: A female that has not been bred by a ram or buck. The term is commonly applied to ewes or does that have not had their first lamb or kid.

Mastitis: Inflammation of the udder.

Maternal: Pertaining to the mother or dam.

Melena: A situation where digested blood is found in the feces (manure) of an animal. Often the stool appears dark and tarry.

Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis: See Johnes disease.

Merino Sheep: Sheep, common in large numbers in Australia, South Africa, and South America, giving the finest wool.

Metritis: Inflammation of the uterus.

Milliliter (mL): A metric volume measurement that is identical to cubic centimeter (cc).

mL: See milliliter.

Modified Live Virus Vaccine (MLV): A particular vaccine that does contain live portions of disease-causing agents. These vaccines should not be given to pregnant animals.

Mohair: Fiber from the Angora goat.

Murmur: An abnormal heart sound. These are graded from 1-6, with 6 being the loudest murmur.


Nanny: A female goat.

Necropsy: The animal equivalent to human autopsy, and means evaluating an animal after death for signs that might indicate the cause of death.

Necrotic: Decaying tissue. Often the tissue is black, decomposed, and has a foul odor.

Neoplasia: Any type of cancer in the body. This term is usually associated with some type of mass or lump.

Nephritis: Inflammation of the kidney(s).

NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): Drugs that decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. These drugs reduce inflammation and are not steroids.

Nymph: A young stage of insects and ticks that have incompletely developed sex organs.


Orchitis: Inflammation of the testicle.

O-T-C (Over The Counter): Products that do not require a veterinary prescription to purchase.

Over Shot or Parrot Mouth: When the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw and the teeth hit in back of the dental pad.

Ovine: Pertaining to sheep.


Palatable or Palatability: The taste and texture of forage. A forage that is highly palatable has a pleasant taste and texture.

Passive Transfer: Acquiring protection against infectious disease from another animal. This commonly occurs when a newborn consumes antibody-rich colostrum from its mother. Failure to have sufficient passive transfer increases the risk of disease.

Pathology: The study of tissues for signs of disease.

Parturition: The act of giving birth to young.

Paternal: Pertaining to the father or sire.

Peritonitis: Inflammation of the internal surface of the abdomen. This condition is often the result of infections and certain diseases.

PGF2a (Lutalyse or Prostaglandin): See Lutalyse.

pH: How much acid or how much base is in a sample. The lower the pH of a substance, the more acidic the sample. Conversely, the higher the pH, the more basic the sample. Normal rumen pH should be around 6-7, depending on the ration being fed.

Phenotype: The phenotype of an animal is the composite of all its tangible features. The phenotype includes an animal’s external appearance, measures of its productivity, and its physiological characteristics.

Photoperiod: Length of day (or length of period artificial light is provided). Also expressed as a ratio of daylight to darkness.

Placentitis: Abnormal inflammation of the placenta, usually due to infectious disease.

Postpartum: Occurring after birth.

ppm: Parts per million.

Prepartum: Occurring before birth.

Presumptive Diagnosis: When a diagnosis is based on a preliminary exam and not on specific testing and results. This diagnosis is often based on the clinician’s experience and on clinical signs that may be very specific for a particular disease.

Progeny: Offspring.

Prognosis: The chances of an animal having a normal quality of life following a disease or problem. This is reported using the words poor, fair, good, or excellent.

Prolific: Tendency to produce many offspring.

Prostaglandin (PGF2a or Lutalyse): See Lutalyse.

Protein: A nutrient category of feed used for growth, milk, and repair of body tissue.

Proximal: A structure that is nearer the main body. For example, the three bones in the foot are designated by the terms proximal, middle, and distal depending on their location relative to the main body.

Puberty: When an animal becomes sexually mature.

Purulent: A term describing pus-like discharge or infection.

Pyelonephritis: Inflammation of the kidney, beginning at the "pelvis." (The pelvis is the enlarged hollow area inside the kidney where urine pools before entering the ureter.) Pyelonephritis is generally due to a bacterial infection.


Quarantine: To confine and keep an animal from contacting other animals or people. This is essential to stop the spread of infectious diseases that are potentially transmissible to other animals or humans.


Ram: A male sheep of any age that has not been castrated. Occasionally these animals are also called bucks.

Rambouillet: A large bodied Merino sheep developed under French Government care from animals imported from Spain in 1786. Hardy sheep yielding good mutton and fine quality wool.

Ration: Total feed given an animal during a 24 hour period.

Recessive Gene: A gene that is expressed when present in only its homozygous form.

Rectal Prolapse: When a portion of the rectum protrudes past the anus.

Ruminant: Animals that have a four-compartment stomach (rumen or paunch, reticulum or honeycomb, omasum or manyplies, and abomasum or true stomach).

Rumenocentesis (rumen tap): When rumen contents are collected by inserting a needle into the rumen.

Rx (Prescription): Products that require a veterinary prescription to purchase.


SC or SQ: See subcutaneous.

Scrotum: The purse or bag containing the testicles of a male animal.

Scur: A rudimentary horn. A small rounded portion of horn tissue attached to the skin of the horn pit of a polled animal.

Second Cross: Progeny resulting from the mating of true half-breeds and a distinct breed.

Second Cuts: The short portions of wool staples that result when the shearer makes two "blows" over the same area.

Shorn: A sheep that has had its fleece removed by shearing.

Sire: Male parent.

Skin Tent: When the skin of an animal is gently pinched and pulled outward. A dehydrated animal’s skin will not rapidly return to its normal position or shape.

Smooth-mouth: An animal that has lost all of its permanent incisors, usually 7 or more years of age.

Stocking Rate (per acre): The number of animals that can be pastured on one acre, or the number of acres required to pasture one animal.

Subcutaneous (SC or SQ): The location for an injection. Use of this term would mean the injection should be given under the skin, but not in the muscle.

Sweating Out: The process of placing a group of sheep in an enclosed area and letting the body heat generated cause the wool grease to heat. This helps to reduce second-cuts.

Systole: Part of the normal beating of the heart where blood is pushed from the ventricles of the heart. This is known as the contraction phase of the heartbeat.


Teaser: An aproned or vasectomized animal used to indicate which females are in estrus.

Titer(s): The immune system’s response to a particular disease. The higher the titer number, the stronger the immune response. Titers are used to determine if an animal has been exposed to a specific virus or bacteria. If the titer numbers are near zero, the animal has not been exposed to that organism recently.

Trachea: Windpipe leading from the throat to the lungs.

Transfaunation: When rumen juices and flora from a healthy animal are placed in an animal where normal rumen function has been compromised.

Transtracheal Wash: When fluid from the lungs is collected and then evaluated.

Trocar: An instrument used in an emergency to relieve the gas from a distended rumen.

Two-tooth or Yearling: A sheep of either sex from about 1 year to 1 ˝ years old and showing two permanent incisor teeth. Sheep usually get 2 adult front teeth every 12 months for the first 4 years of life; after this they are then known as full-mouthed sheep.


Umbilicus: The area where the umbilical cord was attached during gestation. This is commonly known as the "belly button."

Under Shot or Bull Dog Mouth: The lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw, and the teeth extend forward past the dental pad on upper jaw.

Urethroscopy: An examination of the urethra using an endoscope.

Uroliths or Urolithiasis: Describing a variety of stones that are found in the urinary system. These include kidney and bladder stones.


Vein: Blood vessels in the body that carry blood towards the heart.

Ventricle: A chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. A sheep or goat’s heart has two ventricles, left and right.

Virulence: The ability that a microorganism has to cause an infection or disease. Microorganisms which have the ability to cause more severe disease are said to be highly virulent.


Wean: To separate nursing offspring from their dams so that they no longer receive milk.

Weaner: An animal that has been weaned from its mother or has stopped suckling its mother (usually 5 to 7 months old).

Western White-face: A term used to describe the typical ewe utilized on large commercial range sheep operations in the United States. Historically they are comprised predominately of the Rambouillet breed, with Columbia or Targhee genetics in their makeup.

Wet Ewe or Doe: A ewe or doe that is nursing a lamb or kid.

Wether: A male sheep/goat that has been castrated as a lamb/kid, usually before the onset of secondary sex characteristics.

Wool Blind: A term applied when the wool around the eyes has excessive growth and interferes with the sight of the sheep.


Yearling: A sheep/goat of either sex that is approximately 1 to 2 years of age, or a sheep/goat that has cut its first set of incisors.

Zoonosis or Zoonotic: Any animal disease that can be spread to humans.