Livestock means animals on a farm. They are animals that the farmer keeps for a specific use. This often means mammals such as cattle or pigs. But it can also be poultry, i.e. chickens, geese, turkeys, or ducks that are kept on a farm. Other birds that just live on a farm don’t count as livestock. Dogs, honey bees, and some other animals are not included either.
A distinction is made between large cattle and small cattle. Livestock includes horses, cattle, and pigs. Small livestock includes sheep, goats, rabbits, and fowl.
Livestock can also be classified according to to use: Farmers keep livestock for slaughter to produce meat. These animals are killed once they reach the right weight. You want to get milk from dairy cattle. These animals are allowed to live as long as they give enough milk. Then they are also slaughtered, but the meat is no longer of as much value. Working cattle or draft cattle are harnessed to a wagon or a plow. These are mainly horses and oxen, in some countries, there are also cows. In many areas, farmers can now afford tractors and other machinery. These have long since replaced working cattle and draft cattle.
The farmer keeps poultry either for meat or for eggs. If poultry no longer lays enough eggs, it is also slaughtered. Then you can still use the meat, possibly also the feathers.
Livestock is bred today: There should be as much milk, meat, or eggs as possible. That’s why there are different breeds. Each race is particularly good at one or the other. But the farmer also has to work a lot and take good care of his animals.
But the word livestock is sometimes used simply for all sorts of animals. Especially when someone doesn’t like an animal that much or talks about what they think is a bad characteristic of that animal. When a man is treated badly, it is sometimes said that he is treated like a head of cattle.