Birth Weights: Tips & Tricks

By Briley Richard | American Angus Association

With calving season in full swing, it’s crucial to have a plan set in place for record keeping to ensure maximum success. Because birth weights are a crucial record, it’s important to understand the proper way to record that data. Below are key tips and tricks Esther McCabe, director of performance programs, shared to help walk you through recording birth weights. 


WHEN to WEIGH: Within 24 hours of calving 

WHY: Collecting birth weights within 24 hours of calving provides the most accurate read of a calf’s true birth weight. It ensures the calf hasn’t put on or lost a significant amount of weight since birth.  


HOW to MEASURE: Digital or Spring Scale 

WHY: Using a digital or spring scale is the only method of obtaining the actual birth weight measurement of that animal. Options like hoof tapes and heart and girth measurements provide only an estimated weight, often overestimating the weight of smaller calves and underestimating the weight of larger calves. Digital and spring scales eliminate that estimation factor.  


HOW to RECORD: Notebook, digital device or Angus Black Books (personal preference) 

WHY: Collecting birth weights is really a three-step process. First, you must weigh the calf, then record that data, and finally and most importantly report that data to the American Angus Association.

It’s important to remember the collected birth weight data directly affects Birth Weight, Calving Ease Direct and other maternal EPDs. It’s critical to collect and report accurate data to ensure those EPDs reflect that accuracy.

On behalf of the Association, we wish everyone a successful calving season. If any questions arise, call the association at 816-383-5100. The staff is happy to help and guide you to whatever resources you need. 

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