Hipometers and heart-girth tapes are good ways to estimate the bodyweight of heifers. However, a Canadian study shows they may be more accurate for certain age groups than others.

As you can see in the table below, there is a 35-pound discrepancy between the weight estimated by heart-girth tape and that recorded by a scale for calves less than three months old. In addition, heart-girth and hipometer readings were much lower than the scale weight for heifers between 18 and 20.9 months old.

Interpret these results with caution, say the researchers. The number of heifers in some of the age groups was small, which makes it difficult to compare differences between the three methods.

Bottom line: Use a calibrated scale to weigh animals less than three months old and those at or above breeding age.

Estimated bodyweight can vary greatly

 

 

Bodyweight (lbs.)

 

 

Age group

No. of
animals

 

Electronic
Scale

 

Hipometer

 

Heart-Girth
Tape

 

Less than 3 months

 

32

 

163

 

170

 

128

 

3 to 5.9 months

 

18

 

289

 

282

 

284

 

6 to 8.9 months

 

74

 

452

 

448

 

439

 

9 to 11.9 months

 

100

 

587

 

582

 

576

 

12 to 14.9 months

 

65

 

756

 

747

 

747

 

15 to 17.9 months

 

8

 

1,067

 

1,045

 

1,052

 

18 to 20.9 months

 

5

 

1,299

 

1,200

 

1,222

 

21 months and older

 

9

 

1,349

 

1,303

 

1,319

 

Source: October 2006 Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 89, page 3992-3998.