Template: Skinny | Lean | Well Rounded | Plump
Old 18th December 2010, 02:48 PM   #1
Lighthill
lsb member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 63
Measuring sheep to estimate weight

The days of picking up the lambs and hopping on the bathroom scales with them to weigh them are long gone so I've tried measuring both the ewes and lambs to calculate their weight. I measured the heart girth and body length and did the calculation according to this site: http://ag.arizona.edu/backyards/arti...r07/p11-12.pdf

The calculated weights all turned out to be heavier than what I had thought and I don't quite believe them. I'm very aware of the sheeps' condition as I do the condition scoring almost daily while they're eating but I can't correlate it to their actual weight.

Has anyone else tried this measuring method and compared it to the actual weight of each animal? What did you think of the accuracy?

Is there any other way of obtaining the weight which doesn't involve buying expensive equipment or needing lots of muscle power. The spring scales look affordable but I wouldn't be able to hoist an animal up in a sling, even with a pulley.

Thanks.
Lighthill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2010, 06:28 PM   #2
PalmyCol
advanced member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 455
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Pretty inaccurate with sheep I would have thought, would depend on how much wool they had etc...
Done it will cattle and you can usually get within 30 kg so I think the margin of error would be more than the sheep would weight
You could use a block and tackle with the spring scale, geared down at 3 to 1 you could probably lift the sheep.
PalmyCol is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2010, 07:11 PM   #3
hilldweller
...neither up nor down...
Friend of LSB
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Otago
Posts: 8,267
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Good question. Watching with interest as I have the same issue here and just rely on guesswork. Worked brilliantly last year but more luck than judgement and something a bit more scientific would be great. Without the expense of walk-on scales, obviously.
__________________
hilldweller
hilldweller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2010, 09:57 PM   #4
Sue
Moos and clucks
Friend of LSB
 
Sue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Levin, New Zealand.
Posts: 11,172
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Quote:
Is there any other way of obtaining the weight which doesn't involve buying expensive equipment or needing lots of muscle power. The spring scales look affordable but I wouldn't be able to hoist an animal up in a sling, even with a pulley.
We weigh calves by this method sometimes if they are not born near the load bars and platform. I have a clockface scale which reads up to 100kgs and with a rope and pulley system I suspend it from the top step of a stepladder which I place over the calf out in the paddock. Dress it up in a sling with a strap clipped around each leg and quickly haul it up off its feet. If a 60+ year old grandma can weigh calves up to 50kgs on her own, I'm sure you could manage to weigh lambs, though they may be a bit more active but lighter!

I have heard the error on weigh tapes with cattle can be quite large, especially if they are small animals so sheep and wool variation would be even more unreliable.
__________________
Sue
Sue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th December 2010, 11:06 PM   #5
Ronney
lsb member
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Fairburn, Kaitaia, New Zealand.
Posts: 7,100
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Lighthill, I really do have to ask Why are you concerned about it in the first place. The only time my lambs get weighed is when they are dead. Quite frankly, if I need to weigh everything to know how it's doing, it's time I went and found another job.

Cheers,
Ronnie
Ronney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 09:24 AM   #6
LongRidge
lsb member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: nelson, New Zealand.
Posts: 13,469
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

When giving mineral supplements, as well as when giving antibiotics and anthelmintics, it is useful to get a close estimate of weight. But for these, getting very close is not very important, especially with ewes. When giving anaesthetics to the equines, a close approximation makes the job far safer for the animal. I tried making a sling with a pulley system but the sheep thought that wasn't a good idea and fought back.
With all animals that are going to the works, my commercial scales have almost paid for themselves by my animals getting weighed before they go. Then if the kill-out comes back with an idiot figure I can argue that the animal I was paid for was not mine. I once got penalised for a bruised lamb .... except it's kill-out would have had to be about 60% for it to have been ours ....
Also, with all the animals it can be very deceptive trying to remember how they looked last time compared to now. I just re-weighed my lambs, for the 3rd or 4th time. They were averaging about 280g per day weight increase, but this time it was only 80g and some had lost weight. Some needed a drench :-( so those that had lost weight or not gained got drenched.
With the cows over winter I try to feed them enough to maintain weight. If the herd has lost more than about 20kg each then I know to feed them a bit more. And then in spring with the uncalved cows, those that gain too much need to be on less feed to avoid stuck calves .... but hopefully with this bull none will get stuck .....
On our small size of 20 equines, 20 bovines and 100 ovines, our scales are one of the best toys I've bought.
LongRidge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 12:01 PM   #7
hilldweller
...neither up nor down...
Friend of LSB
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Otago
Posts: 8,267
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

I've tried a sling hung from a fencepost across the top of the cattle race but the lambs kept putting their feet on the rails and I couldn't get an accurate reading. Suppose if I got a really long pole I could set things up to weigh in the middle of a pen, but then I'd have to wrestle the lamb across the open space to the scales. Probably doable, now that I think of it, for what I want which is to time the first draft for just before the heaviest lamb reaches the top of the organic lamb weight band - so only need to weigh two or three of the biggest fatties. At that stage they should be well up in the 40s liveweight.

I'd love to be able to monitor growth rates through the season but realistically I just wouldn't find the time at the moment, even with a really good weighing set-up.
__________________
hilldweller
hilldweller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 01:10 PM   #8
Stu_R
surviving as best one can
Friend of LSB
 
Stu_R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Feilding / Awahuri ( Manawatu)
Posts: 6,958
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

HD just a thought ... what about setting up just in front of the end of your drafting race ? ( well slightly foward of the exit gate ... so you put sling on in the drafting race and hook up... then pull up as the sheep comes out the gate ?
Wouldnt be that hard to make up out of nice cheap laying round junk
__________________
4 retired Greyhounds ( Bridgette , Lilly, GoGo and Sam ) 11 friendly sheep all of whom are named and come when you call them , and 10 named friendly lambs : 2 goats, Mollie and Eee Bee :
Olive trees , .. old bugger doing the best he can with no money or land
Stu_R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 01:15 PM   #9
hilldweller
...neither up nor down...
Friend of LSB
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Otago
Posts: 8,267
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Hmm... so that the pole projects out beyond the end of the race like a gangplank LOL, with big fat lambie swinging underneath? That might work nicely - thanks
__________________
hilldweller
hilldweller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 01:29 PM   #10
Stu_R
surviving as best one can
Friend of LSB
 
Stu_R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Feilding / Awahuri ( Manawatu)
Posts: 6,958
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

HD .. when your doing everything on the cheap like me you soon learn to think slightly ( well ok sometimes way) .. outside the square.. sometimes my ideas are a little trial and era .. but mods to make them work are easy ( you learn heaps from the first attempt ) and always cheap
__________________
4 retired Greyhounds ( Bridgette , Lilly, GoGo and Sam ) 11 friendly sheep all of whom are named and come when you call them , and 10 named friendly lambs : 2 goats, Mollie and Eee Bee :
Olive trees , .. old bugger doing the best he can with no money or land
Stu_R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th December 2010, 09:16 PM   #11
Lighthill
lsb member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 63
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronney View Post
Lighthill, I really do have to ask Why are you concerned about it in the first place. The only time my lambs get weighed is when they are dead. Quite frankly, if I need to weigh everything to know how it's doing, it's time I went and found another job.
Why weigh?? Well, it's not to see how the ewes and lambs are doing in general. I use observation and condition scoring for that, as I said
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lighthill View Post
I'm very aware of the sheeps' condition as I do the condition scoring almost daily while they're eating ..
I do believe though that it is very important to weigh animals to accurately determine the correct amount of drench required, especially for the lambs. The smaller and younger the animal, the greater the accuracy needs to be. They're more vulnerable to overdosing of anything as well as overfeeding. It's also easy to underestimate the weights which results in underdrenching. That encourages worm resistance and when you're trying to give the least amount of chemical necessary over a period of time, it's common sense to do the best you can to get it right. For me, with just a few animals that are up next to the house anyway, its an easy matter to pick up a little lamb and get on the bathroom scales.

I found that weighing the lambs when they were smaller gave me a much faster indication than waiting till their condition changed of how well their mothers were feeding them (another selection factor for keeping ewes) and how well the new types of feed supplement I was giving them were being utilised.

The same principle applies to feeding as dosing - the smaller and younger the animal, the better the quality the feed needs to be so that everything they consume contributes to their growth and health. They don't have the internal space or rumen development to process a lot of bulky low-nutrient feedstuff. So while higher-quality/ high protein supplements are more expensive to buy when there isn't enough grass, a lesser amount needs to be fed, giving an over-all result of value for money spent. Weighing them to monitor their growth rate allowed me to assess the results more closely. Apart from that, it's just interesting.

It also let me know that my smaller lamb was keeping pace with the others. He's a nice big lamb now

Now that they're bigger, the question is how much do they actually weigh. If I know they're over a certain weight then I can make decisions as the grass runs out on what the next step will be.

So weighing them is a useful tool. There're some great ideas given on how to do it that I'll be looking into, thanks for the replies. I can even think of how to try out a system to see if it works before buying the scales and possibly a lifting device. The reaction of the lambs is one of the unknowns that I need to find out.
Lighthill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2010, 10:25 AM   #12
LongRidge
lsb member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: nelson, New Zealand.
Posts: 13,469
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

What about .....
A small slot of one side of the exit race to fit a bar that goes right across the race. On the other side make a small table/platform to put the bathroom scales on. Make this level or a bit lower than the slotted side, so the scales and the device for holding the bar on the scales, such as a clamp, vicegrips or suchlike. The sling the lamp, pull it up on the bar with a locking pulley, and read the weight. The locking pulley is essential whatever method you use.
LongRidge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2010, 10:36 AM   #13
Denneaux
lsb member
Friend of LSB
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Dunedin
Posts: 797
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Four bathroom scales and a calculator?
Denneaux is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th December 2010, 10:39 PM   #14
Lighthill
lsb member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 63
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

After doing a google search on the block & tackle/pulley system I can now understand why everyone is mentioning them, so that's top on the list followed by a sling. Longridge, that bar on the scales sounds feasible, if there is enough height on the sides of my small pen. If not, I'll get the spring scales and try your stepladder method, Sue. If I can get it set up, then I'll have help to do the actual weighing. Thanks again everyone for the ideas.
Lighthill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2010, 08:01 AM   #15
bev
lsb member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Te Aroha, New Zealand.
Posts: 2,471
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Every now and then you can pick up cheap weighing scales on trade me.

I think your making work for yourself, but understand what you are trying to acheive, and when you see the results, its much satisfaction

Liveweight : once a sheep is at its maturing weight, it will stay there (give or take) and you will notice without weighing the increase/decrease of weight by your eye. Record what weights your lambs are at 6mths, 12 months, 18 months so you have a 'weight chart' to go by

Drenching: I dont drench my goats or sheep, And they graze together, depending on weather and grass, they may get a drench for barbers pole, which is the quickest killer of worms, visually its hard to see as generally the dont scour.

Now its gospel around here that you cant/shouldnt run goats and sheep together, but i cant stress enough, is have good genetic genes!! For growth, feet, worms and general wellbeing, if you have a ewe that is always sick, her lambs will be the same! Having good genes cut out alot of work load. Mine dont get any suppliment brought in a bag food, if they are short in grass, they get hay or silage, nothing special

Sorry cant help you on the estimate weight thing.
bev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2010, 09:23 AM   #16
Sue
Moos and clucks
Friend of LSB
 
Sue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Levin, New Zealand.
Posts: 11,172
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

I've been looking out some photos of our temporary scales, when we don't use the load bars.

Here are a few which show the pulley arrangement hanging from the step ladder which I can take and place near the calf out in the paddock. If the calf is younger than 24 hours I can usually just get it up and get it dressed in the sling. Any older and it takes some catching

This way I can lift 50kgs or more if I have to, as long as their legs clear the ground, on my own! Bathroom scales need two people if you stand on them yourself!

I know lambs will be a bit different and wiggly, but there might be some ideas from here which can help others.
Shoof now have a metal cradle like a U shape to hang on scales. like this.Principally for calves-but may work for lambs if it had a sack over it. A handy person with a welder could make their own.

Just as an added note-I do this out in the paddock with Mum in attendance, often by myself-it pays to have quiet cattle!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Weighing newborns 2.8.10 005.jpg
Views:	85
Size:	37.8 KB
ID:	6811   Click image for larger version

Name:	152 being readied for weighing.jpg
Views:	60
Size:	46.5 KB
ID:	6812   Click image for larger version

Name:	Weighing 152.jpg
Views:	79
Size:	52.4 KB
ID:	6813   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC00944.jpg
Views:	61
Size:	47.9 KB
ID:	6814   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC00945.jpg
Views:	53
Size:	49.5 KB
ID:	6815  

Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC00946.jpg
Views:	66
Size:	44.8 KB
ID:	6816   Click image for larger version

Name:	weighing 2.jpg
Views:	92
Size:	42.3 KB
ID:	6817  
__________________
Sue
Sue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2010, 10:30 AM   #17
LongRidge
lsb member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: nelson, New Zealand.
Posts: 13,469
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

With the scales between the step ladder, if the sheep could be restrained somewhat then the feet of the ladder could be moved inwards until the sheeps feet were just off the ground. This would mean that you don't need to muck around with non-slip pulleys, which can be quite difficult to use if you don't practice regularly.
LongRidge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st December 2010, 10:03 PM   #18
Lighthill
lsb member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 63
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Sue, that's a great idea It's a portable hoist which I've never thought of. Seeing the photos, apart from weighing lambs, I'm imagining how useful that could be to get things in and out of the car (not lambs, no, inert things). Or, if you could get something up high enough, to get a handcart underneath it and lower the load onto it (two ladders placed parallel with a bar across and lashed on, to give adequate clearance?) I'm afraid some of us have arms that don't work too well so any device that saves loading the arms is worth investigating! Pulling the rope by hand is out, but there are other ways to get the result you want. I hope the pulleys aren't too difficult to use, can only try.

One way or another, these lambs are in serious danger of getting weighed
Lighthill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2010, 08:04 AM   #19
Sue
Moos and clucks
Friend of LSB
 
Sue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Levin, New Zealand.
Posts: 11,172
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Lighthill the pulley arrangement is pretty simple as long as you hang it the right way up! It is amazing how easily it is to pull up too. Of course it is the pulley that makes it easy!
I find you just have to be quick to get the feet off the ground as if they only have 1 or two that can touch the ground they may thrash about at first!

I'm pleased the set up might help with ideas shifting other more inert things. I toyed with getting a swing out arm on the back of the Ute at first-but sometimes it is not covenient to get the Ute close enough to the calf. This is mobile virtually anywhere you can take a ladder.
__________________
Sue
Sue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd December 2010, 03:49 PM   #20
Stu_R
surviving as best one can
Friend of LSB
 
Stu_R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Feilding / Awahuri ( Manawatu)
Posts: 6,958
Re: Measuring sheep to estimate weight

Its a great idea and a great set-up Sue .. lol wonder if my sheepies will think so when i take a ladder to the yards
LOL first time i do it, i bet at least 5 of them try to climb it or eat it lol lol
__________________
4 retired Greyhounds ( Bridgette , Lilly, GoGo and Sam ) 11 friendly sheep all of whom are named and come when you call them , and 10 named friendly lambs : 2 goats, Mollie and Eee Bee :
Olive trees , .. old bugger doing the best he can with no money or land
Stu_R is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +12. The time now is 02:00 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.