How to Build a Livestock Scale for $1

Weigh livestock with an inexpensive, easy-to-use, do-it-yourself scale.
By Donald Wickman
July/August 1983
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A plank and two scales are all you need to make a low-cost livestock scale.

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For a 4-H club hog project last year, I helped my youngsters build a livestock scale. We constructed an affordable, easy-to-use "porker pound counter" with some extra fencing we had lying around our farm, an old plank, and a couple of bathroom scales. The total cost of our enterprise was $1.00, which we spent for a used scale we found at a thrift shop (the other one was borrowed from our own bathroom).

Using the exterior wall of an outbuilding for one side, we completed the needed pen in almost no time. Then my children placed a plank inside the enclosure, with a scale under each end, and put the contraption right to use. With a bucket of grain, one of them coaxed the oinker to the center of the board, while the other noted the readings on both scales. Afterwards, they calculated the hog's poundage by adding these two figures and then subtracting the previously recorded weights for the plank alone from the total, which gave them an answer that—as we later verified—was accurate to within four pounds!

What could be simpler? The following example shows how we calculated the weight of one of our animals:

Scale 1
Plank Weight: 24 lb.
Total Weight: 135 lb.

Scale 2
Plank Weight: 24 lb.
Total Weight: 113 lb.

Total Plank Weight: 24 lb. + 24 lb. = 48 lb.
Total Weight (Both Scales): 135 lb. + 113 lb. = 248 lb.

Hog's Total Weight: 248 lb. - 48 lb. = 200 lb.

We've also discovered that our method is perfect for weighing sheep and goats, too. So, if you've got any problem in counting (animal) pounds around your homestead, why not solve it by building your own thrifty do-it-yourself livestock scale?

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