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How to Estimate the Weight of Beef Cattle with Measurements
how to measure cattle ~ measurement in inches and weight in pounds

Properly calibrated livestock scales are the most accurate and consistent method for determining livestock body weight. But unless you run a large herd of cattle, it may not be cost effective to buy a livestock scale. A "guesstimate", or visual observation is usually very inaccurate and not recommended when determining medication dosages, rations, or any other time an accurate weight is important. Small herd owners can fairly estimate the weight of their cattle by measuring them. There are 2 methods to measure for cattle's estimated weight (#1 is the most accurate of the two).

  1. Using two measurements (heart girth and body length) and a formula
  2. Using one measurement (heart girth) and a chart (or a livestock weigh tape)

 

Measuring the hearth girth (used in both methods)

 

Method #1: using 2 measurements and a formula.
Other than a livestock scale, method 1 is the most accurate way to estimate weight with measurements. Use a common tape measure to determine the heart girth and body length measurement. These measurements are then used in the formula below to calculate the animal’s weight.

Heart-girth measurement circumference and body length measurement

MEASURE: (A-B) body length measured from point of shoulder to point-of-rump or pin bone.

MEASURE: (C) heart girth circumference, around the body behind the shoulder, over the heart (a point slightly behind the shoulder blade), and very close to the forelegs. Using these 2 measurements, calculate body weight estimate with this formula:

FORMULA
(heart girth X heart girth X body length) ÷ 300 = approx animal weight

e.g., if a miniature bull has a heart girth of 70 inches and a body length of 65 inches,
the calculation would be ... ... ... ... (70" x 70" x 65") ÷ 300 = x lbs., or:
70 x 70 = 4900 ... ... 4900 x 65 = 318,500 ... ... 318,500 ÷ 330 = 965 lbs.

METHOD #1 formulas are also available for other Livestock:

  • Sheep, goats: (heart girth X heart girth X body length) ÷ 300 = approx animal weight.
    Same as cattle except wool sheep should be shorn or have wool parted very well.
  • Hogs: (heart girth X heart girth X body length) ÷ 400 = weight in pounds.
    Measure length of body from between the ears (poll) over backbone to base of the tail.
    This formula is for hogs from 150-400 lbs. For hogs less than 150 lbs, add 7 lbs.
  • Horses: (heart girth X heart girth X body length) ÷ 330 = weight in pounds.
    Measure the circumference (heart girth) of body (C) just like cattle: from the base of the withers, down under the belly, just behind the elbow and foreleg.

 

Method #2: using just the heart-girth measurement
Beef Cattle Weigh Chart: Use a (soft) measure tape along with the chart provided below. Although not taking the length of body into account with this method, using just the heart girth measurement still gets a decent estimate of weight.

Heart-Girth measurement circumference
Table of Beef Cattle Weight Measurements ~ pinnable infographic

 

Mark & Kathy Chaney, Tellico Plains, Tennessee

Newborn Calf Weight Chart
There are mixed reviews whether heart girth measurements for newborn calf weights are very accurate,
but it might be interesting to experiment with...

Heart Girth" Weight#   Heart Girth" Weight#   Heart Girth" Weight#   Heart Girth" Weight#   Heart Girth" Weight#
10 5   16 14½   22 41   28 69   34 96
11 6   17 18   23 47   29 73½   35 101
12 7   18 22   24 51   30 76   36 105½
13   19 26   25 55½   31 8   37 110
14 10   20 30   26 60   32 87   38
consider
getting a
new bull
15 12½   21 36   27 64½   33 92½   39

 

There are Livestock Weigh Tapes that can also be used, instead of referring to charts. Weigh tapes are specially marked to measure the heart girth and convert that measurement to a fairly accurate estimate of the animal’s body weight printed on the tape. Weigh tapes are easy to use and can be utilized effectively for monitoring purposes--especially when used in a consistent manner by the same person. They are inexpensive and can be purchased for beef or dairy cattle (as well as sheep, goats, hogs or horses).

NOTE: Weigh tapes may be used effectively for livestock, but they are not highly accurate for pregnant animals or those with extreme conformational irregularities. Keep a record that you can refer back to over time.

 


SOURCES:
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
4-H Youth Development, University of Arizona
Beef Improvement Federation of North America
Tractor Supply Company
Texas A & M University
Vision Systems
Enasco

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Bucking V Outfit LLC
miniature-cattle.com
a Bucking V Outfit, LLC. enterprises, est. 1990
Maricopa County, Arizona
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