right click to save full size; frame score chart helps estimate mature height of a calf
(click to open full size)


proper (universal) way to measure height in all breeds of cattle
a universal method of measuring height across all breeds of cattle

      The Frame Score (FS) system of measurement was developed to help assess the growth potential of feeder cattle and to help predict the mature height of young cattle. A calf is measured over the hip, and its height in inches is used with its age in months, in a formula adjusted for age & sex, to determine what frame score it is. Theoretically, an animal has the same frame score its entire life.
      The Frame Score system for cattle was first developed in the 1970s at the University of Missouri under the guidance of Drs. John Massey and G.B. Thompson. The frame score system quickly became used nationwide. It was adopted by the Beef Improvement Federation, and became used by most beef cattle breed registries. Today it is used by many breeders across the world as a universal comparative measurement for height in cattle.
      The frame score system and the adjusted formula used, was designed for cattle from frame score 1 to frame score 10. Frame scores less than 1 have not been studied or proven to work with this same formula. Therefore it is important to realize that frame score charts can only be used as “guesstimates” for miniature cattle. And, standard frame score charts can not be expected to work for cattle that carry dwarfism genes.
      However, since this universal standard is the most accurate that we have, I blended all existing frame score charts used since the 1970s, and added in all smaller frame scores down to FS000000 (6-aught), to help breeders predict mature height in young miniature cattle.
      To figure out an animal's frame score, measure your cattle (when 5 months of age or older) over their back, above the hip (hook bone). Compare their height & age to these charts for a quick easy estimate of their frame score. You can also use the frame score formulas (printed on the charts) to figure a FS that should be as close to accurate as possible. Identifying your young cattle's FS is helpful when selecting, registering and marketing your cattle. As you gain years of experience breeding miniature cattle, with pr0per record keeping, you may be able to further modify these charts to more accurately predict mature height in your young cattle.
      Scroll down for several BIF compliant beef cattle frame score charts. Each one opens into a separate window. Scroll down to read more about dairy cattle stature, 12 things to understand about Frame Scores in Homestead & Miniature breeds of cattle, and some cattle Frame Score trivia.

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minimoo pointer printable
Frame Score Charts

  • full size charts for the barn, sharing, or on your website
  • each chart format opens in a separate window
  • frame score 1 is considered miniature in some registries and midsize in other registries
  • charts will improve over time, as more miniature frame scores are recorded and as we learn more about miniature cattle
    growth curves compared to standard sized cattle, and how much taller miniature bulls are expected to be than miniature cows of the same frame score
BULL Frame Score Chart.
BIF compliant (the frame score chart used for comparison across most breeds).
COW FS Chart
FEMALE Frame Score Chart for heifers & cows.
BIF compliant (the frame score chart used for comparison across most breeds).
FS Light
Frame Score LIGHT Chart:
Lists frame scores for bulls & females at ages
6mo, 12mo, 18mo, 2YO & 3YO.


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Stature in Dairy Cattle

height in Dairy Cattle (Stature)

International Committee for Animal Recording: Since 1993, STATURE is among the standard linear traits that are measured objectively and used internationally across breeds. Stature helps miniature dairy cattle breeders select fullblood bulls that will reliably (genetically) sire shorter calves than the breed average. Stature is defined as the height of the cow measured over her hips. ~ ICAR Conformation Working Group, June 2015

stature and frame scores in Dairy Cattle

Holstein Assoc Stature measurements

Height is 40% heritable. The current standards applied across modern dairy breeds, is based off of the correlation between the size of a dairy cow and her total milk production records (Traditional evaluation information, Interbull – Form GENO, 2016-09-01). This is the most useful standard to use when maximum gallons of milk production is the primary consideration. For homestead cows, when breeding for shorter (and more efficient) dual purpose or dairy cows, that live longer and produce milk on grass alone, this can be achieved focusing on the standardized dairy cattle stature scores when selecting A.I. dairy bulls.


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12 Things to Understand About
Frame Scores in Cattle

  1. Official North American beef cattle industry Frame Score charts are maintained by the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF), which was founded in 1968. FS charts use a 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 (one for bulls and one for heifers) that represents the researched average growth patterns recorded in 1000s of cattle across many breeds (although NOT any miniature cattle!) over many years of record keeping.
  2. Cattle theoretically have the same Frame Score (FS) throughout their life.
  3. FS charts help owners estimate the expected mature height of their young cattle at any age after 5 months. Frame Scores help ranchers monitor and describe the mature cow size of their herd. FSs are used by miniature registries to determine height divisions.
  4. heritage Kerry cattleMiniature cattle breeds use a cutoff height of 42-43 inches, measuring 3YO cows over the hip when 36 mos of age.
  5. Bulls of the same frame score mature taller than cows; however in miniature cattle, the difference may be proportionately less.
  6. Different miniature cattle registries set slightly different height limits in their herdbook divisions, but most are fairly similar.
  7. Most registries require measurements of their cattle over the hip. One miniature registry measures to the top of the hook bone, and a few registries measure right behind the shoulder. If you have cattle that qualify for more than one registry, check their requirements and include all measurements to cover your bases.
  8. Height is usually not a factor for eligibility in most cattle registries other than miniature breeds and a few small frame breeds.
  9. Measuring yearlings when exactly 12 months (365 days) of age, using the actual FS formula (not just the FS chart numbers) provided on the charts, should provide the most reliable frame score and mature height prediction in normal growing, healthy, young cattle.
  10. Frame Score Charts are only a guide. Individual animals will vary while growing. FS chart numbers show a (smooth) gradual average growth curve. In real life, many animals have a "bumpier" growth curve full of growth spurts, changing conformation (angles), type (early or later maturing) and environment (nutrition, climate, long feet, even thickness of hair, etc).
  11. Grassfed vs Grain: Don't forget: Frame scores can vary in animals that mature earlier or later compared with average animals. Cattle on pasture grow slower than cattle pushed for maximum gain (fed high levels of grain in feedlots), or even calves fed grain earlier in life when developing their endocrine system. Grassfed cattle that receive supplements should gain at rates somewhere in the middle. Calves weaned earlier or later will be affected in growth & height.
  12. Although smaller breeds tend to mature earlier, many heritage breeds of cattle actually keep growing up to 7 years of age.

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Frame Score Trivia
The following frame score "trivia facts" are for comparison only.
We may not have enough official records to prove or disprove numbers in
miniature cattle, dwarf cattle, or in 100% grassfed small frame 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 their 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 (14 to 15 months when target calving at 24 mos)
          heifers should weigh 60-65% of their expected mature weight.
  • In standard breeds, bulls mature 3-4" taller than cows.
  • In miniature breeds, bulls may mature 1-2" taller than cows.
  • Steers grow taller than bulls, standing about 1/2--1" taller at 18--21 months.
  • Mature bulls of standard size breeds usually weigh 55-60% more than mature cows.
  • In heritage breeds, bulls usually 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 designed for heifers that first calve at 2YO. Add 1 inch if first calving at 3YO
  • Mature FSs are designed for cattle approx. BCS 5 of 9 (moderate or ideal body fat)
  • Half of a calf’s lifetime height and growth is achieved in its first six months. 25% of a calf’s lifetime weight gain also happenS within the precious six-month window of birth. “There is no such thing as compensatory frame growth – a short calf will be a short cow. I’m talking not just scale and size. I’m also talking body, lung, liver and digestive capacity. They are all set in early life.” ~ David Kuehnel, a US dairy cattle specialist. He majored in Meat and Animal Science at the University of Wisconsin, and was the president of Milk Products for Land O’Lakes – the biggest producer of milk replacer in North America. Today, he runs a consultancy firm, Rule of Three.

These percentages & ages apply to standard breeds of cattle.
These expected predictions may not follow through in miniature cattle.
As we record more
FSs, we can eventually formulate accurate %s for minimoos.

From the Glossary:
Aught: (1) "aught" is old-timey speak for "0" / "oh" / "zero"
(2) "aught" and "naught" are old fashioned ways of saying zero.
(3) An old Middle English term that refers to a zero or zeroes when labeling progressively decreasing sizes. Used in grains (e.g. buck shot, ammunition), in small horse shoe sizes, in screws & fasteners (e.g. in thread sizes 000=“triple aught”, 00=“double aught, 0=“aught”, #1 and #2, are sizes made to National Aerospace Standards). In Frame Score sizes, comparing miniature cattle to small frame and standard frame breeds of cattle, zero (0) or 1 may refer to an average or median range. Going upwards in number indicates increase in height. Adding zeroes indicates decrease in height. Size 0000 is called 4-aught, 00000 is called 5-aught, and 000000 is called 6-aught.

Disclaimer: I (Donna Grace) have no official authority in the miniature cattle industry. I have taken the artisitic liberty of borrowing the term "aught" from my agricultural (specifically horseshoeing & ranching) background when labeling miniature cattle frame scores in my charts. It is no problem writing the zeroes, but when discussing frame scores over the phone, it is much easier to describe your small bull as frame score size "six-aught" than size "zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero."    joy

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How to Measure mini Herefords
(extract from an old American Miniature Hereford Newsletter,
originally written by the Largent family, Point of Rocks Ranch, Texas)
The Miniature Hereford Club of America does not accept an animal larger than frame 1 as a Miniature.
The average size of Miniature Herefords is between 41" and 45" (104 and 114 cms).

old miniature Hereford Frame Score chart


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© est. 2013
Homestead & Miniature Cattle Resource Directory

part of
Homestead Cattle Association

Homestead Cattle Registry
Miniature Cattle Registry
Heritage Cattle Registry


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