miniature cattle frame score chart
Frame Score Charts
measuring minimoos

Miniature-Cattle.com Links Frame Score (FS) Charts

      INTRODUCTION. Frame scores help Miniature Cattle classification and registry height requirements. Frame score measurements predict the potential size of cattle at maturity. Cattle normally have the same Frame Score throughout their life. However, individual animals can vary while growing due to conformation (angles) type (early or later maturing) and environment (nutrition, climate, growth spurts, or even long feet) etc. Measuring at exactly 12 months of age (to the day, not just the month, and using the formula, not just the chart estimates) should provide the most reliable frame score in normal BCS , healthy young cattle. "Mature height" is usually declared between 22 and 48 months of age (depending upon the context), while 36 months is usually used to register cattle with, even though we know cattle can keep growing until 7 years old. Different registries may set slightly different division height limits in their herdbooks, but most are within a standard close range.
      
Frame scores are an objective, numerical description of cattle skeletal size measured in height. The standard frame score chart used by most North American cattle breeds is published by the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF), which was founded in 1968. BIF frame score charts use difference in height at the same age by 2 inches per number score. Chart numbers for 5 to 21 month old growing cattle are computed with a mathematical formula (see both formulas, one for bulls and one for heifers, in the miniature-cattle.com Frame Score charts below) that represents average growth patterns recorded in 1000s of cattle over many years of research.
      The following Miniature Cattle Frame Classification illustrations and Frame Score charts are as accurate as possible. They are a blend of what is used by all cattle breeds, from the most accepted and widely-used sources. In order to represent all sizes of cattle breeds these Frame Score charts have been adjusted (minimally as possible) to accommodate existing inconsistencies, while retaining the integrity of the formulas for classes of cattle that have been well researched. The resulting compiled charts are a blend of the major source charts into one set of FS charts for today's miniature Cattle. Please help yourself, by using and sharing them widely.

Miniature-Cattle.com Frame Classification illustration - tall version
same illustration; tall version above, wide version below...

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Frame Score Chart • HEIFERS (height in inches)
miniature cattle
heifers
age
in
mos
classic
 
modern
lg
large
- 6
- 5
- 4
triple
double
 
small frame
medium frame
USDA large frame
very large
•aught
•aught
•aught
•aught
•aught
zero
(heritage breeds)
standard frame
(exotics)
000000
00000
0000
000
00
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
   
Mini Hereford Breeders Assn:
5
33.1
35.1
37.2
39.3
41.3
43.4
45.5
47.5
49.6
   
22.5
24.5
26.5
28.5
30.5
32.5
6
34.1
36.2
38.2
40.3
42.3
44.4
46.5
48.5
50.6
   
23.3
25.3
27.3
29.3
31.3
33.3
7
35.1
37.1
39.2
41.2
43.3
45.3
47.4
49.4
51.5
   
24.0
26.0
28.0
30.0
32.0
34.0
8
36.0
38.0
40.1
42.1
44.1
46.2
48.2
50.2
52.3
   
24.8
26.8
28.8
30.8
32.8
34.8
9
36.8
38.9
40.9
42.9
44.9
47.0
49.0
51.0
53.0
   
25.5
27.5
29.5
31.5
33.5
35.5
10
37.5
39.6
41.6
43.7
45.7
47.7
49.7
51.7
53.8
   
26.3
28.3
30.3
32.3
34.3
36.3
11
38.3
40.3
42.3
44.3
46.4
48.4
50.4
52.4
54.4
   
27.0
29.0
31.0
33.0
35.0
37.0
12
39.0
41.0
43.0
45.0
47.0
49.0
51.0
53.0
55.0
   
27.5
29.5
31.5
33.5
35.5
37.5
13
39.6
41.6
43.6
45.5
47.5
49.5
51.5
53.5
55.5
   
28.3
30.3
32.3
34.3
36.3
38.3
14
40.1
42.1
44.1
46.1
48.0
50.0
52.0
54.0
56.0
   
28.8
30.8
32.8
34.8
36.8
38.8
15
40.6
42.6
44.5
46.5
48.5
50.5
52.4
54.4
56.4
   
29.3
31.3
33.3
35.3
37.3
39.3
16
41.0
43.0
44.9
46.9
48.9
50.8
52.8
54.8
56.7
   
29.8
31.8
33.8
35.8
37.8
39.8
17
41.4
43.3
45.3
47.2
49.2
51.1
53.1
55.1
57.0
   
30.0
32.0
34.0
36.0
38.0
40.0
18
41.7
43.6
45.6
47.5
49.5
51.4
53.4
55.3
57.3
   
30.3
32.3
34.3
36.3
38.3
40.3
19
41.9
43.9
45.8
47.7
49.7
51.6
53.6
55.5
57.4
   
30.5
32.5
34.5
36.5
38.5
40.5
20
42.1
44.1
46.0
47.9
49.8
51.8
53.7
55.6
57.6
   
30.8
32.8
34.8
36.8
38.8
40.8
21
42.3
44.2
46.1
48.0
50.0
51.9
53.8
55.7
57.7
   
BIF FS equation used for heifers between the ages of 5 and 21 months, where Age = days of age:
Frame Score = -11.7086 + (0.4723 x Ht.) - (0.0239 x Age) + (0.0000146 x Age x Age ) + (0.0000759 x Ht. x Age).
31.0
33.0
35.0
37.0
39.0
41.0
22
• Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) •
31.3
33.3
35.3
37.3
39.3
41.3
23
Frame Score Chart • COWS (height in inches)
miniature cattle
cows
age
classic
 
modern
lg
large
000000
00000
0000
000
00
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
31.5
33.5
35.5
37.5
39.5
41.5
24
43.1
45.0
46.9
48.8
50.7
52.5
54.5
56.4
58.2
60.1
62.0
32.0
34.0
36.0
38.0
40.0
42.0
30
43.8
45.8
47.5
49.4
51.3
53.1
55.1
57.0
58.9
60.8
62.5
33.0
35.0
37.0
39.0
41.0
43.0
36
44.2
46.1
48.0
49.8
51.8
53.6
55.5
57.2
59.2
61.0
62.8
42
49.9
51.9
53.8
55.7
57.4
59.3
48
44.6
46.5
48.2
50.0
52.0
53.9
55.8
57.5
59.4
61.2
63.0
miniature-cattle.com

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Frame Score Chart • Bull Calves (height in inches)
miniature cattle
classic
 
modern
lg
large
- 6
- 5
- 4
triple
double
 
age in
months
small frame
medium frame
USDA large frame
very large
•aught
•aught
•aught
•aught
•aught
zero
(heritage breeds)
standard frame
(exotics)
000000
00000
0000
000
00
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
MHBA ext.
Mini Hereford Breeders assn
5  
33.5
35.5
37.5
39.5
41.6
43.6
45.6
47.7
49.7
   
23.0
25.0
27.0
29.0
31.0
33.0
6  
34.8
36.8
38.8
40.8
42.9
44.9
46.9
48.9
51.0
   
24.0
26.0
28.0
30.0
32.0
34.0
 7  
36.0
38.0
40.0
42.1
44.1
46.1
48.1
50.1
52.2
   
25.0
27.0
29.0
31.0
33.0
35.0
8  
37.2
39.2
41.2
43.2
45.2
47.2
49.3
51.3
53.3
   
26.0
28.0
30.0
32.0
34.0
36.0
9  
38.2
40.2
42.3
44.3
46.3
48.3
50.3
52.3
54.3
   
27.0
29.0
31.0
33.0
35.0
37.0
10  
39.2
41.2
43.3
45.3
47.3
49.3
51.3
53.3
55.3
   
28.0
30.0
32.0
34.0
36.0
38.0
11  
40.2
42.2
44.2
46.2
48.2
50.2
52.2
54.2
56.2
   
29.0
31.0
33.0
35.0
37.0
39.0
12  
41.0
43.3
45.0
47.0
49.0
51.0
53.0
55.0
57.0
   
29.8
31.8
33.8
35.8
37.8
39.8
13  
41.8
43.8
45.8
47.8
49.8
51.8
53.8
55.8
57.7
   
30.5
32.5
34.5
36.5
38.5
40.5
14  
42.5
44.5
46.5
48.5
50.4
52.4
54.4
56.4
58.4
   
31.0
33.0
35.0
37.0
39.0
41.0
15  
43.1
45.1
47.1
49.1
51.1
53.0
55.0
57.0
59.0
   
31.5
33.5
35.5
37.5
39.5
41.5
16  
43.6
45.6
47.6
49.6
51.6
53.6
55.6
57.5
59.5
   
31.8
33.8
35.8
37.8
39.8
41.8
17  
44.1
46.1
48.1
50.1
52.0
54.0
56.0
58.0
60.0
   
32.0
34.0
36.0
38.0
40.0
42.0
18  
44.5
46.5
48.5
50.5
52.4
54.4
56.4
58.4
60.3
   
32.3
34.3
36.3
38.3
40.3
42.3
19  
44.9
46.8
48.8
50.8
52.7
54.7
56.7
58.7
60.6
   
32.5
34.5
36.5
38.5
40.5
42.5
20  
45.1
47.1
49.1
51.0
53.0
55.0
56.9
58.9
60.9
   
32.8
34.8
36.8
38.8
40.8
42.8
21  
45.3
47.3
49.2
51.2
53.2
55.1
57.1
59.1
61.0
   
BIF FS equation used for young bulls between the ages of 5 and 21 months, where Age = days of age:
Frame Score = (-11.548) + (0.4878 x Ht.) - (0.0289 x Age) + (0.00001947 x Age x Age ) + (0.0000334 x Ht. x Age)
33.0
35.0
37.0
39.0
41.0
43.0
22  
Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) •
MHBA ext.
Mini Hereford Breeders assn
23  
Frame Score Chart • Mature BULLS (height in inches)
miniature cattle
age in
months
classic
 
modern
lg
large
000000
00000
0000
000
00
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
33.3
35.3
37.3
39.3
41.3
43.3
24  
46.4 48.3 50.3 52.3 53 56 58 60 62 64 66
33.5
35.5
37.5
39.5
41.5
43.5
30  
47.3 49.3 51.3 53.2 54.9 57 59 61 63 65 67
35.0
37.0
39.0
41.0
43.0
45.0
36  
48.0 50.0 51.9 53.8 55.5 57.5 59.5 61.5 63.5 65.5 67.4
35.5
37.5
39.5
41.5
43.5
45.5
42  
48.3 50.2 52.0 54.0 55.7 57.8 59.8 61.8 63.7 65.7 67.6
36.0
38.0
40.0
42.0
44.0
46.0
48  
48.5 50.4 52.3 54.1 55.9 58.0 60.0 62.0 63.9 65.8 67.7
miniature-cattle.com

You are welcome to use and share the Frame Score Charts on Miniatue-Cattle.com, intended as an aid in estimating mature heights of Miniature Cattle. As for identifying height classifications for registration requirements, that varies between registries--each breed registry you use will have their own specific height regulations for eligibility in different herdbook divisions. This table is a general way to use the Frame Score charts for female Miniature Cattle height classification. As always, regulations & terms will vary slightly between registries.

FS bulls & cows

(above) click to open double Frame Score chart for both bulls & cows
(below) click on either bull or cow Frame Score chart to open singly


 

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other
Miniature Cattle
Frame Score Charts


Miniature Hereford Breeders Association Frame Score chart

      Since height is the definitive value in Miniature Cattle, breeders rely on frame score charts to help predict what height a calf is expected to mature at. At this time there is no official (objectively researched) Frame Score chart for the smallest Miniature Cattle breeds. But we do have the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association Frame Score chart (above) that continues the 2" FS increments as far down as FS 0000. Note: Their age of 2 years is most likely referring to 30 months of age.

 


International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society® Frame Score Chart

      The most commonly seen chart with Frame Scores below 0000 (above) was devised circa 1989 by the late "Professor Emeritus" Richard Gradwohl, sole proprietor of International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society®. Gradwohl was an acedemian and businessman. He devised his chart using the cattle industry standard of 2" per score, and continued the scores down to FS 000000. The Gradwohl IMCBS® registry still uses this chart.

 

internet chart - source unknown
another frame score chart on the internet ~ source unknown

 

miniature frame score chart
another frame score chart on the internet ~ source unknown

 

      Minor (or miniature) Inconsistencies. Creating miniature cattle Frame Score charts with 6 score levels below well-researched BIF FS charts for standard breeds does involve a bit of guesswork. With a few discrepancies tossed into the mix, here is basically what we are working with:

  • We don't know how accurate the Frame Score formulas (used from 5 to 21 months) are for growing miniature cattle.
  • Some miniature cattle are BD1 gene carriers...
  • We do not know how dwarfism affects average growth curve patterns. Dwarf cattle may have a unique growth curve.
  • The Heritage Jersey Organization measure cattle at the withers (on the topline behind the shoulder). They chose that measuring point because Jersey cattle on the Isle of Jersey have always been measured at the withers. In level topline cattle (displaying ideal mature conformation for either beef or dairy cattle) this would not create any discrepancy. In growing cattle however, it probably would.
  • The Gradwohl IMCMS® registry does not recognize the height difference between bulls & cows of the same FS.
  • The Gradwohl IMCMS® registry uses a different height measurement point (the top of the hook instead of over the hip).
    • The difference between those two measuring points varies between breed conformation and individual animals; however...
    • If we add 1"-2" (a common difference) to the hook height, their chart then aligns with the standard BIF industry FS chart.

 

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KEEP YOUR MEASUREMENT RECORDS

It would be very interesting and helpful over time if many breeders could save all their measurements of their miniature cattle taken over time, to help build a real-life Miniature Cattle Frame Score chart. Over time, live miniature cattle would indicate a more predictable estimate of mature (3YO female) heights. We could establish if miniature bulls of the same FS tend to mature at 2 or at 3 inches taller than cows... and more accurate FS estimate numbers at all ages. If any registry or group of breeders (or anyone) wants to coordinate and do this, I would be glad to help save or compile the data. The most important info & measurements to record would be:

  • your preferred point(s) of measurement
    (over the hip is industry standard but if your registry uses another location, record both),
  • newborn calf height (within 12-24 hrs birth),
  • height at exactly 365 days old,
  • height at exactly 36 months old,

And of course any other measurements, such as any ages between 5 and 21 months, which could be reviewed and compared with the industry standard formula used for all other breeds... Also helpful would be heights at 24 or 30 months, and at true maturity (when the animals does quit growing, and finding out what age that actually is). Along with the measurement records, you'd need breed, gender, chondro-status, and any environmental variables (grass-fed, long feet, whatever) recorded.

 

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MEASURING Cattle Height ...


figure 1.
Hip height is measured from the ground to the highest point over the hip.

MEASURING Your Cattle: Hip height measurements are used for the calculation of frame scores for all cattle, as illustrated in figure 1. above. Heights should be measured from the topline directly over the hips (or hooks), to the ground, with cattle standing on a firm, flat surface, legs symmetrically positioned, with the head in a normal position.
        A straight level topline is preferred in most cattle. But since all cattle do not have an ideal, straight level topline, using the industry standard when measuring for Frame Score (figure 1), provides the most uniform measurement across all different types of cattle, angles, breeds and bloodlines.
        Cattle are not measured right on the hook bone for a Frame Score height. The hook bone is usually lower (often by an inch or 2) than the correct spot on the topline directly above it. Cattle are not measured at the shoulder for the same reason: Less uniformity between breeds & types.
        The easiest tool for measuring miniature cattle is a pony (or miniature horse) measuring stick, available at many livestock supply companies. It consists of a cross-arm (with a bubble level) attached in a 90- degree angle to an upright containing a rule. (BTW, in horse measurements, 1 "hand" = 4 inches.)

Or ... ... ...

  1. assembly instructions for a measuring stickGo to a major home improvement store & find an Adjustable Drywall Square; and try to find one with a movable / folding level.
  2. Look in a hardware store for a T-Square; sturdy, accurate, about $20.
  3. You might get by with a plain measuring tape and a level.
  4. A handyman could make a DIY measuring stick from PVC pipe. It should have an “arm” that can be gently lowered over the back of a minimoo, while the foot of the stick can be set firmly on level ground. Here is a pdf from Valley Vet of assembly instructions (right) for their Sullivan Supply brand livestock measuring stick, which could be used as plans for a homemade measuring stick.
  5. An alternative to a measuring stick, especially when cattle are untrained or uncooperative, or the accuracy of individual measurements is not as critical, is to place a grid or nail a board marked in height increments (like a big yardstick) inside a scale or working chute. As cattle are being worked, their heights can be read off the grid by sighting across the animal's hip.

Dustin & Annabelle HOW FRAME SCORES WORK: For cattle developed under a consistent and adequate level of nutrition for normal growth, a calculated frame score should be similar regardless of when the animal is measured. Theoretically an animal should have the same frame score throughout its life. Inconsistent environmental factors and management can alter skeletal growth rate, which may result in cattle developing slightly faster or slower for certain time periods. As a result animals may increase or decrease a frame score over time depending on rate of growth.

Slow Maturing Cattle: Frame score will vary for animals that mature earlier or later compared with average animals. Environmental factors can also alter an animal's growth performance. Nutritional level is a major factor. Cattle that do not receive adequate nutrition will be below average in growth rate, while cattle fed extremely high levels will grow faster.

Grass Fed Cattle: Seedstock producers who raise their herd on 100% grass should take this into consideration when calculating frame scores on their breeding stock that has not reached 2 or more years of age. Grass fed cattle may have a slower growth curve, as they aren’t being pushed to rapidly develop their frame.

HERITABILITY: Frame score is moderately to highly heritable. As such, frame score can be significantly (quickly) changed through selection, primarily achieved through sire selection. With a heritability estimate of .40, about 40% of a bull’s difference in frame score from the herd average will be passed on to his progeny. ~ North Dakota State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1995.

Using Frame Score Charts to predict a calf's mature height: To figure the most accurate frame scores for young cattle between the ages of 5 to 21 months of age, use the BIF Frame Score equations given in the charts above. 12 months is usually the most useful age for determining accurate frame scores in growing cattle.

Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Frame Score charts are the cattle industry standard and the most widely used method of estimating cattle mature skeletal size in North America. BIF frame scores, based on hip height, represent differences in height at the same age of approx. 2 inches per frame score. Values in the chart represent averages of thousands of cattle, but individuals may vary.

BIF MEMBER BREED ASSOCIATIONS: American Akaushi Association, American Angus Association, American Blonde d’Aquitaine Association, American Brahman Breeders International, American British White Park Association, American Chianina Association, American Gelbvieh Association, American Hereford Association, American-International Charolais Assoc, American Maine-Anjou Association, American Salers Association, American Shorthorn Association, American Simmental Association, American Tarentaise Association, American Wagyu Association, Beefmaster Breeders United, Braunvieh Association of America, Canadian Angus Association, Canadian Charolais Association, Canadian Gelbvieh Association, Canadian Hays Converter, Canadian Hereford Association, Canadian Limousin Association, Canadian Simmental Association, International Brangus Breeders Association, North American Limousin Foundation, North American South Devon, Red Angus Association of America, Santa Gertrudis Breeders International.

 

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Modern Frame Scores
FS Charts & Growth Rates in Modern (standard breeds) of Cattle

unfortunately, as of now, we do not have enough records to prove / disprove
these numbers in miniature cattle, BD carrier cattle, or small frame 100% grass fed small cattle

  • By 7 months of age, cattle should reach about 80% of their mature height.
  • By 7 months of age, most cattle reach about 35-45% of mature weight.
  • By 12 months of age, cattle reach up to 90% of their mature height.
  • By 12 months of age, cattle reach about 55-60% of their mature weight.
  • For breeding age (that is 14 to 15 months when target calving at 24 mos)
          heifers should weigh 60-65% of their mature weight.
  • In standard breeds, bulls mature about 4" taller than cows.
  • Steers grow taller than bulls, standing about 1/2--1" taller at 18--21 months.
  • Modern frame mature bulls weigh 55-60% more than mature cows.
  • In heritage breeds, bulls weigh at least 25% more than cows.
  • Shorter cattle usually mature at an earlier age.
  • Frame Scores may not stay consistent with the chart during fast growth periods.
  • FSs are for heifers that first calved at 2YO. Add 1 inch if first calved at 3YO
  • Mature FSs are for cattle at BCS 5 (moderate body fatness).

These percentages / age apply to modern /standard cattle FSs.
These percentages do not follow through in miniature cattle FSs.
These numbers are quoted throughout the cattle industry; one source is TAMU.
As we record more FSs, we can eventually formulate accurate %s for mini moos.

 

Frame Scores and the Miniature Cattle Market: Many mini cattle sellers and most breeders selling seedstock will list either a Mature Frame Score or a current height at age along with the sale animal’s other statistics. When shopping online for miniature cattle, print off a Frame Score chart and keep it handy to convert cattle's Frame Scores into inches--and then "...you should probably get out your tape measure. 45 inches tall may not sound like much, but when you add two or more feet of width, and pushing 1000 pounds of beef all wrapped in a hairy hide, they can be larger than you thought. Miniature Herefords are roughly half the size of their Modern counterparts, but they are still cattle." ~ Miniature Hereford Association

Heritage Cattle Breeds: "In general, adult cattle weighing less than 900 pounds are considered small frame cattle; 900 - 1300 pounds are medium frame, and above 1400 pounds are large frame cattle. We typically base Heritage breed cattle size rating on cow weights. Bulls should be expected to weigh at least 25 percent more than cows. Exceptions are plentiful, so please just use our values as a guideline." ~ D. Phil Sponenberg, Heritage Cattle, American Livestock Conservancy.

 

USDA FRAME SCORES
United States Department of Agriculture monitored meat industry

USDA Medium Frame cattle have a frame score of about low 3 to low 5.
USDA Small Frame is below this range and USDA Large Frame is above.
In fact, anything above a low 7 frame score should probably be called Very Large.

USDA Feeder Cattle Grades separately evaluate frame size (Small, Medium and Large)
and body thickness (1 = slightly thick or thicker, 2 = narrow, 3 = very narrow).

A USDA Medium Frame feeder steer is projected to finish at 1000 to 1200 lbs with 0.5" fat cover.
Slaughter heifers weigh about 15% less than steers.

 

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go home little cow

back to links


ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
American Hereford Assn & Miniature Hereford Breeders Assn
Miniature Herefords beef at The point of Rocks ranch in Fort Davis Texas, Roy Largent and family founding miniature Hereford rancher.
North Dakota University Cooperative Extension
Beef Improvement Federation of North America
Texas A & M University
US Dept Agriculture