2022 Livestock Scales Buying Guide

This guide about “what to consider when buying a cattle scale” was first published in 2019, this is the June 2022 version. Every rancher knows the importance of a high-quality livestock scale for maintaining animal health and maximizing profits. However, buying the best livestock scale for your needs requires some research and forethought. Here are some points to consider when purchasing a new cattle scale.

1. What are you weighing? Platform size
You’ll need to determine the best size for your weighing platform, first. Depending on the animals you’re going to weigh, your scale will also need different features. The size of the animals, how many of them you’ll need to weigh at once and whether you’ll have to secure them are all factors you should to take into consideration.

2. Do you need a mobile scale? Portable vs. Permanent
Portable scales are a more popular choice for cattle farmers because of their versatility. It’s much easier to transport the weighing unit to the cattle than to move the animals to the weighing platform. Setup is simple, too. You can mount the load cells before the squeeze chute entrance or anywhere in an alleyway where you know the cattle will stop. You don’t need to bolt a portable scale onto a solid surface like concrete – they can function on any terrain, even gravel. However, they may become insufficient if you need to weigh many animals. They’re also typically less durable than their stationary counterparts.

Permanent scales are more suited for larger operations as they can weigh numerous animals simultaneously. Brackets are bolted into a concrete floor to ensure stability and reliability. The platforms may be gated to ensure the cattle don’t step off the sides. You can also mount the load bars under your squeeze chute for improved efficiency. However, this requires dedicating a large area of your operation to weighing.

3. How durable does it need to be?
Depending on where and how you use the scale, you may need to invest in a more durable model. This will depend on local climate as well as where the scale will be located and used. If it’s a stationary scale, you’ll need to make sure it’s built in such a way that it won’t be at risk of becoming damaged by anything in the vicinity. If you opt for a mobile scale, make sure it can handle your terrain and the use you plan to make of it.

4. What type of floor for your cattle scale? Animal safety
The weighing process can be stressful for your animals, so you want to make sure accessing the scale is as easy as possible. Scales with rubber flooring can reduce noise for both animals and operators. Rubber flooring also has an advantage over wood planks because it won’t rot or harbour bacteria. For large cattle it is also recommended to connect your platform to an alleyway to get animals on and off more easily.

5. Do you need data management? Data collection Most modern scales are designed to be paired with a digital weigh centre or indicator that collects and stores weight data for you. You can quickly download the data into a spreadsheet on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Advanced memory models can keep hundreds of pieces of data on a single animal. Some scales are outfitted with electronic identification (EID) to identify individual animals as they step on the scale.

Even if you don’t think you need these features now, it’s important to consider them, as they may become crucial when your operation grows. Recording important data will help you to streamline operations down the line.

6. Does the scale need to be legal for trade?
If you’re going to use your scale to buy and sell livestock, it needs to be certified as legal for trade according to Measurement Canada specifications. These are available in single- and multi-animal versions, as well as in both mobile and stationary formats.

Cattle scale sales and service in Alberta
At Accurate/Western Scale Co. Ltd., we offer a variety of livestock scales to suit any operation. We are accredited by Measurement Canada, and we can certify devices as legal for trade. We also provide mobile cattle scale repair services to minimize downtime. Contact us today at our facility in Calgary, Alberta, to learn more about our products and services.

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