Birth weight of calves might be one of the most important factors in profitability of the beef herd. Reporting exact calf birth weight is important for accurate calculation of birth weight EPD and for assessing calving ease as it relates to birth weight. It’s also one of the top characteristics used for bull selection.
Many purebred associations require producers to weigh calves within 24 hours of birth and have standard weighing methods.
A Mississippi State University study compared four methods for collecting calf birth weights to evaluate accuracy. While some producers visually estimate birth weights, it is best to weigh calves to provide accurate data for EPD calculation. The four methods evaluated were visual estimation, hoof circumference measuring tapes, hand-held hanging scales and digital scales.
For each calf, birth weights were first visually estimated, then collected by hoof circumference tape. The tape was placed around the coronary band of the calf’s front right hoof. Calves were then weighed with hanging and digital scales.
Overall, visual estimates and hoof tape measurements tended to underestimate heavy birth weights, and hoof tape measurements tended to overestimate light birth weights. Spring scales provided the most similar results to digital scale measurements.
Cattle producers should consult with breed associations regarding preferred birth weight data collection methods for use of birth weight data in national cattle evaluations.
Note: This story appeared in the February 2017 issue of Drovers.