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STOCK [uncountable]: farm animals, such as cows and sheep, that are kept for their meat, wool, etc. SEE ALSO livestock

LIVESTOCK [uncountable, plural]: animals kept on a farm, for example cows or sheep https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/

The difference between both terms is the possibility of being a plural noun that only livestock offers. Is this correct?

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  • That seems weird, but did you check other dictionaries? A dictionary may not be perfectly consistent within itself. – Mitch Mar 12 '20 at 12:53
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Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary gives the two examples for livestock:

  • a market where livestock are bought and sold

  • a market where livestock is bought and sold

However, it does not assign countness / non-countness here in accordance with how CGEL regards it. Since neither sentence accepts a numeral or equivalent

*a market where three livestock/s are bought and sold

*a market where a dozen livestock/s is bought and sold

the usages must both be deemed non-count.

The correct way to describe these usages is 'used with either a singular or a plural verb-form'.

Also, comparing with the unacceptable notional plural form 'livestocks', 'livestock' is of singular form (no -s).

Note also that 'livestock' refers to an etically countable referent, perhaps 20 cows and 50 sheep.

Various dictionaries wrongly or unclearly address these issues.

.............

CED merely labels stock in the cattle etc sense 'plural'; as the plural form 'stocks' is available with other senses of the word, CED obviously means 'treated as plural' or better 'taking a plural verb-form'.

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  • OED: STOCK: A collective term for the implements (dead stock) and the animals (live stock: animals generally; animals of any kind kept or dealt in for use or profit) employed in the working of a farm, an industrial establishment, etc. See also rolling stock. 2. spec. = live stock ; the animals on a farm; also, a collective term for horses, cattle, and sheep bred for use or profit. – GJC Mar 12 '20 at 15:49
  • That certainly addresses the semantic part of your query; OED is usally the best place to check for sense 31 etc. It doesn't add a countness or a required verb-form flag for this sense though, apparently. Almost certainly non-count, and I'd say [almost?] always used with a singular verb; 'rolling stocks' sounds most unnatural. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 12 '20 at 19:21

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