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a large group of mammals living and feeding together, esp a group of cattle, sheep, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of beef cattle.

Animals in a herd are selected according to sex, age, liveweight, and fattiness. Herds are formed during the zootechnical and veterinary examination of the cattle before the beginning of pasturing. The size of the herds in meat sovkhozes is 150–200 head of younger animals, 150–200 head of fattened adult animals in steppe regions, and 100–150 in forest and forest-steppe regions. Each herd is managed by a team of two to four herdsmen.



(1) A group of mammals of the same species with interdependent behavior; that is, they remain close to one another for a significant period of time, behave similarly, often have the same rhythm of activity (for example, the simultaneous diving of whales), and travel in the same direction. Herd formation is characteristic of cetaceans, artiodactyls, perissodactyls, and monkeys. The composition (in terms of age and sex) and size of a herd fluctuate, thereby distinguishing herds from other groups of animals with interdependent behavior, for example, families and harems.

The maximum size of a herd is determined by the possibilities for mutual coordination of behavior. A herd may consist of dozens of individuals among whales and monkeys and 1,500 to 2,000 individuals among ungulates (for example, reindeer, saiga, and gnu). The largest herds are formed during seasonal migrations, after which they break up into smaller groups (families, harems). The animals in a herd orient themselves by the behavior of their neighbors (signals of the presence of food, appearance of a predator). Following the example of its leader, a herd may select a safer route during flight from a predator or during travel toward a watering place or shelter, especially during the migration period. Imitation of nearby individuals predominates in the behavior of many herd members over free decision-making, which is characteristic of solitary animals.

When animals are in a herd they permit man to approach fairly closely and possibly to control them. The patterns of herd behavior are widely used in pasture livestock raising, since domesticated hoofed animals are usually gregarious.


(2) A group of animals kept together on a farm for maintenance, fattening, or pasturing, for example, a herd of beef cattle or a herd of horses.

(3) The total number of animals of one species on a farm. The composition (sex, age, and production groups of animals), purpose, and periods of use of a herd vary with the organizational and economic conditions of herd reproduction. The necessary composition is maintained by planned rotation of the herd.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
A number of one kind of wild, semidomesticated, or domesticated animals grouped or kept together under human control.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
"You forget that you came with me to-day to buy a herd of horned beasts; likewise that he who dines at the Greenwood Inn must pay the landlord."
And we will keep the herd of cattle free for our own use--and the King's.
I drove the little herd (a dozen strong, now, what of the escapes she had permitted) a hundred yards farther on; and by the time she joined me I had finished the slaughter and was beginning to skin.
They knew what the business was before them--the terrible charge of the buffalo herd against which no tiger can hope to stand.
It seemed as if each beast strove to outstrip his neighbour, in gaining this desired cover; and as thousands in the rear pressed blindly on those in front, there was the appearance of an imminent risk that the leaders of the herd would be precipitated on the concealed party, in which case the destruction of every one of them was certain.
This second Eum us strode hastily down the forest glade, driving before him, with the assistance of Fangs, the whole herd of his inharmonious charge.
As I topped a great boulder I saw the herd of plant men surrounding a little group of perhaps five or six green men and women of Barsoom.
Presently we caught sight of the herd, which numbered, as Ventvogel had said, between twenty and thirty, standing in a hollow, having finished their morning meal, and flapping their great ears.
Verily, the crafty ego, the loveless one, that seeketh its advantage in the advantage of many--it is not the origin of the herd, but its ruin.
"This abortion in the herd. You know what a terrible thing it is."
At sight of the white warrior who came upon them from down wind the herd halted in response to the warning cry of the sentinel that had discovered him.
The replies this theory gives to historical questions are like the replies of a man who, watching the movements of a herd of cattle and paying no attention to the varying quality of the pasturage in different parts of the field, or to the driving of the herdsman, should attribute the direction the herd takes to what animal happens to be at its head.