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Weighing and measuring livestock

Kevin Hill for Progressive Dairyman Published on 31 December 2016

Animal measuring is one of the most important tasks in farm management. If you are a farmer, you should appreciate the importance of staying up-to-date with all facts about individual animals. A livestock scale is a critical tool if you are looking to optimize the performance of your animals.

Whether you are in small-scale livestock farming or large-scale dairies, the benefits that come with measuring the weight of your animals cannot be understated.

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The why of weighing

Like any other business, dairy production is a capital-intensive investment. You need to save in your operations to enjoy good return on investment.

If you are not weighing your animals, you are losing out on invaluable data that can be used to enhance your operations. Here are some practical benefits of weighing your livestock:

1. Monitoring animal health

One of the toughest aspects of livestock farming is maintaining healthy animals. However, if you invest in a livestock scale, it becomes easy to monitor the health of your animals by checking for any sudden weight loss.

If your cows are losing weight rapidly, it is important to notify a veterinarian to avert dangerous diseases that can wipe out your herd. When such a disease is treated on time, you can prevent its spread to the other animals.

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2. Breeding purposes

Making breeding decisions is a tough call for any dairy, as these decisions should be based on the health of the herd. By weighing the animals, you will easily identify the optimal time to breed, which will prevent complications in future. With the weight data collected, you are in a better position to make a solid decision that guarantees healthier calves in your herd.

3. Measure feed consumption

To guarantee a healthy herd, ensure that you constantly weigh your farm animals. The data you collect is invaluable in herd management. You will know when to increase or reduce feed. The information collected can also be used by the veterinarian to propose any change in diet or recommend more nutrients.

When you have the right feed conversion rate, you will come up with the right food portions to help you achieve particular growth rates within a set period of time.

4. Picking the weaning time

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It is crucial to include your calves in weight measuring. Making the decision on weaning determines how well calves are integrated into the herd. More importantly, you can predict future growth of the calf by analyzing the data and looking at the performance graph. Such data is important in determining the performance of your herd.

5. Evaluate breeding performance

When you are regularly weighing your animals, it is easy to determine the right breed for your farm. Breeds that are constantly adding weight are preferable for breeding as they guarantee better return on investment and healthier calves.

Genetic selection is also easier when you have collected weight data. You can, for instance, decide to produce a cross-breed of the best animals based on the weighing data you have collected over the years.

Using livestock scales helps optimize your herd. If there are underperforming animals in the herd, they can be pulled out to ensure that you only have the best crop. The modern livestock scale is easier to use, animal-friendly, and your animals will not be resistant to its use.

If you are looking for the best return on investment for your business, it is time to start weighing your animals.

Scales on the market

If you want to start using livestock scales on your farm, there are different types of scales to choose from. Most scales in the market have a platform, load bar and an indicator, and they are easy to employ on the farm.

The most basic classification of the scales is electronic and manual. However, there are many models to choose from in this broad category. The most basic indicators are manual and allow you to record the information from the indicator and use it in your computer system.

More refined livestock scales have an internal memory that allows you to store the history of a particular animal for future reference. Using an electronic indicator is more effective, and it allows for comprehensive analysis of the data you have collected during measurement.

Portable livestock scales are now popular because they allow easy monitoring of the animal weight from any area on your farm.

With advances in technology, it is easier to find a platform that fits your unique farming needs. What’s more, there are scales designed for specific animal types, while others can be used to weigh all types of animals.

Benefits of livestock scales

When looking for the perfect animal scales, here are some factors to consider:

  • Animal-friendly: The scale you buy should comfortably accommodate the animal. A low-profile scale is an ideal choice as it offers more comfort.

  • Go automatic: Electronic livestock scales are easier to handle, and they require less labor. What’s more, they have an internal memory, which makes it easier to analyze the history of the animal.

  • Accuracy: When choosing an electronic scale, make sure you go for load cells that have a high accuracy level.

  • Durability: Make sure the scale you buy can cope with the number of animals you have on your farm. Stainless steel for the load cells and aluminum body is perfect if you are looking for a durable livestock scale. This construction also prevents corrosion.

  • Design: When picking an animal scale, check all the ports to ensure they are not exposed. More importantly, ensure the load cells are embedded inside the scale to protect them against external pressures such as kicking and shoving.

The information you collect from weighing scales is invaluable in making the right farm management decisions. You will enjoy better return on investment from your herd by ensuring your animals are always healthy.  end mark

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.

Kevin Hill
  • Kevin Hill

  • Marketing Specialist
  • Quality Scales Unlimited
  • Email Kevin Hill

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