Proper Methods of Calf Birth Weight Data Collection

I am often asked if the calf weigh tape is accurate enough to collect birth weight information.  As you know, reporting accurate calf birth weight is important for proper calculation of birth weight EPDs.  Dr. Parrish and co-workers at Mississippi State University performed a research project that looked at birth weights taken by 1) estimated visual appraisal, 2) estimation using the hoof circumference tape, 3) measurement with a handheld hanging spring scale and 4) measurement using a digital scale.  The researchers collected birth weight on 587 calves within the first 24 hours of life.  Their results indicate that birth weight records can vary because of the birth weight collection method used.  When birth weights were analyzed, visual estimates and hoof tape measurements tended to underestimate high birth weights, whereas hoof tape measurements tended to overestimate low birth weights. Birth weight data was most accurately collected using the spring or digital scales.  I personally use a set of bathroom scales and a piece of one inch thick plywood to get birth weights.  This sometimes means that the cow has to be penned off so that I don’t get eaten by her while getting the job done.  One of my former students invented a metal cage that mounts on the front end loader of his John Deere tractor to set over the calf to the get the weight.   Source: Parish et al., 2009. Mississippi State University

Published in: on May 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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