Maximize Ranch Profits with Tips for Using Livestock Scales

Reader Contribution by Kevin Hill and Quality Scales Unlimited
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Photo by David R Beech Barn Equipment

Taking care of livestock, whether on a smaller farm or a commercially-driven ranch, can be enhanced in many ways. One vital aspect is the use of the correct livestock scales to gauge the growth and health of your livestock as well as accurately determining weight to maximize profits derived from livestock.

What Should You Know for Using Livestock Scales?

Whether you have chosen a manual or electronic livestock scaling system, it is a good idea to keep some basic pointers in mind to ensure that you make the most of your scale. Whether you are in the process of selecting a scale or are looking to upgrade, these general guidelines will work toward increasing your profitability potential:

Figure out your needs and usage. It’s important to know exactly what information you expect to receive from your livestock scale. You could be looking to maximize your profits by producing beef more efficiently, or to track the growth of your livestock by assessing how much feed you provide them and the weight they have gained as they grow. Electronic scales are a great help when keeping records of weight for dozens of animals.

A scale indicator memory will store cattle ID tags with weight measurements for convenient data retrieval, when connected to management spreadsheet software. Alternatively, an EID (Electronic ID) reader attached to your scale can automatically upload ID tags without manual effort.

If you require other measurements or notes on animals’ conditions, consider scales with enhanced functions for storage or even wireless data transfers.

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Determine weighing setup and placement. According to your needs, either a permanent or portable livestock scale can be employed for weighing livestock. A permanent scale system is reliable and sturdy, and the load bars will be encased in concrete for safety. However, a portable scale would be ideal for weighing livestock at multiple locations and moving the scale to all kinds of environments; it may see more use and enhance efficiency this way.

Electronic livestock scales that use AC power must be placed strategically with access to a dry and safe power outlet, with minimal wire lengths for safety.

Remember, balance is key. It’s imperative to utilize a stable surface for your livestock scales. Not only will an unstable surface cause weighing inaccuracies, it can be downright dangerous for the livestock shuffling in and out of the scales.

However, you don’t need to worry so much about surfaces being completely flat and level, as long as they’re firm.

Weighing interference and tangled load cell cables.Livestock scales are just as sensitive to interference as other measuring equipment, so be sure to keep your weighing platform free of obstructions, livestock manure, rocks, or any other objects that can cause false readings:

Load cells are situated below the weighing platform, and the cables running out from them need to be free of twists, snags, and possible tangling with livestock or personnel. Coiled cables out of reach of accidental tangling help avoid discrepancies in livestock scale readings.

Dealing with livestock shrinking and stress. Traveling to different locations for weighings can stress livestock animals, causing a phenomenon called “shrinking”, which indicates a loss in weight of the animals. Using a portable scale can help reduce this problem, drastically minimizing weight and subsequent profit losses.

Keeping a side table with all the necessary apparatus and accessories near the weighing chute will also lower stress for animals by reducing the amount of time they need to spend on the scale platform. 

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

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