I do believe bovine refers to the species, and might be the answer you are looking for.
As I read the various responses I found them interesting. I grew up on a ranch, next to a dairy. Mainly we dealt with horses, but we did have a cow, who did have a calf, that became a bull. The Dairy had cows. The auction house down the road sold horses, cattle, cows, and bulls. Nobody said anything about bovines except in use as a slur about ones mental capacity.
I believe steak is a reference to male bovines. I suppose dairy cows that have run the course might have been butchered, but I cannot honestly say. Cattle ranches have both male and female, but when speaking of an individual animal it was always a cow or a bull.
We may have here a true example of gender equality; in the sense when referring to an individual we say male of female, and when we refer to the group we use a term that is truly gender neutral.
I'm to sure how cats feel about their identity being usurped to refer to a large group of bovines. Shouldn't a herd of cats be cattle. I wonder with all the animal right groups out there their cause has not been taken up.
As a kid growing up, it was bulls, cows, and cattle for a group of animals. It was cow or bull for an individual, and I think it was because it was pretty clear what the individual was even at a distance. I never met anyone so out of it, that they tried to milk a bull (Reference to the way Robert Mitchum went in "What a Way To Go". And lets face it a matador yelling "Ha Vaca!" at a cow wouldn't have been much of a show.