General Writing and Grammar Help/use of "livestock"

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Question
Dear Jonathan,

Would you please tell me if the word “livestock” is a “non-count noun”.

Would you also please tell me if “livestock” should only be used with a singular noun as in saying:    “The livestock is kept outside”   (Not:  The livestock are outside.)

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Hi Rich,

Having some livestock myself, I actually know the answer to this off the top of my head. Livestock is a somewhat unique noun that can be singular or plural (as is the case with many nouns describing collections of people or things). It's not exactly a uncountable noun, per se.

In general, the rule of thumb is that nouns of this type take a singular verb unless the individuals are to be emphasized.

For example:
Livestock has been important in serving humankind. (singular)
Livestock is useful for the development of small farms (singular)
I chased away the livestock who were trampling my vegetable garden. (plural)
The Livestock are going to need more food (plural)

In your particular question, you are asking about the collective group, so it would be singular:
The livestock is kept outside.

However, it depends on the context. If you were referring to just a few specific animals, cows maybe, but not the rest of your herd, then it would be plural:
The livestock are kept in the barn.

I hope this helps!

Kind Regards,
-Johnathan  

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Johnathan Clayborn

Expertise

I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.

Experience

I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

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Alpha Chi, Psi Chi, Kappa Delta Pi, APA

Education/Credentials
MS, Educational Psychology, BS Psychology (English minor)

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