AskDefine | Define calves

Dictionary Definition

calves (See calf)


1 young of domestic cattle
2 the muscular back part of the shank [syn: sura]
3 fine leather from the skin of a calf [syn: calfskin]
4 young of various large placental mammals e.g. whale or giraffe or elephant or buffalo [also: calves (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of calf


  1. third-person singular of calve

Extensive Definition

A calf (plural calves) is the young of various species of mammal. The term is most commonly used to refer to the young of cattle. The young of bison, camels, dolphins, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, moose, rhinoceroses, whales, seals and yaks are also called calves.
A calf is the term used for the offspring of a cow and a bull or other bovine species until it is weaned. This terminology is also usually common to other species where the young is called a calf. A calf that has lost its mother is referred to as a dogie, poddy or poddy-calf.
The birth of a calf is calving. The term calving is also applied in geology to the breaking off of a mass of ice from its parent glacier, iceberg, or ice shelf.

Human uses

Calf meat offered for human consumption is called veal. Fine calf skin used for pages in early codices is called vellum. The fourth compartment of the stomach of slaughtered milk-fed calves is the source of rennet. Calves feed from their mother's udder for a few weeks before eating solid food.
Calf leather is particularly valuable because of its softness, and fine grain. It is commonly used for the construction of high-end/high-quality shoes.

Male Bos Taurus Calves

Castrated male calves are called steers. They are called steers also when full grown. A male calf that has not been castrated is called a bull or bull calf. Also in its adulthood the male Bos taurus is called a bull. The word calf is a general name used to describe any bovine until it is weaned, then it becomes known as a weaner. A steer or bull calf should put on about 70-80 pounds per month. A 9 month old steer or bull should weigh about 550-600 pounds.

Female Bos Taurus Calves

Female calves are called heifers. They should weigh at least 450 lb. at 8 months old. At about 12 months old a beef heifer reaches puberty if she is well grown. After she has given birth to a calf then she will be recognized as a cow.

External links

  • Calving on Ropin' the Web, Agriculture and Food, Government of Alberta, Canada
calves in Aragonese: Bimardo
calves in Guarani: Vakara'y
calves in Breton: Leue
calves in Catalan: Vedella
calves in Danish: Kalv (dyreunge)
calves in German: Kalb
calves in Erzya: Ваз
calves in Spanish: Novillo
calves in French: Veau
calves in Dutch: Kalf (rundvee)
calves in Dutch Low Saxon: Kuusjen
calves in Narom: Viâo
calves in Polish: Cielę
calves in Portuguese: Vitelo (animal)
calves in Quechua: Chiku
calves in Finnish: Vasikka
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