How to Figure Live Weight of Cattle

By Jess Kroll
A cow's chest gains size in direct proportion to its growth in weight.
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The weight of live cattle is incredibly important to the pricing of the herd and the yield of beef. While a cattle scale is available it can be expensive and frightening for the cows and this may lead to slower growth. Fortunately a method is available to estimate the weight of a cow by the size of the chest. Using either a specially made tape measure, or a regular tape measure and a conversion chart, you can provide a quick weight range with minimum disturbance.

Step 1

Keep the cow away from food and water for 12 hours before measuring. This provides a more accurate weight than one which may fluctuate due to water or meal weight.

Step 2

Place the animal in position with all four legs set square under the body and its head out as normal.

Step 3

Wrap the measuring tape tightly around the body at the smallest circumference just behind the shoulders.

Step 4

Check the measuring tape for a size-to-weight conversion. Tapes measure in inches and pounds, for example, a measurement of 42 inches corresponds to approximately 236 pounds. If necessary the measure can also be converted to metric by changing the length in inches to centimeters (1 inch = 2.54 cm) or pounds to kilograms (1 pound = .4536 kg). If using normal tape without the approximate weight consult a conversion guide to move from chest measurement to estimated weight (see Resources).