Livestock Weighing Equipment for Dairy Farms

Top 10 Livestock Weighing Equipment for Dairy Farms: Find the Right Solution!

By Dairy Farming Hut

Cows, Goats, Sheep

The best livestock weighing equipment will make your job much easier as a dairy farmer. Being a dairy farmer is much more than a job; it's a lifestyle. So it's understandable that you only want the best of the best when it comes to essential equipment. Among the top livestock weighing systems is a combination of portable and stationary scales.

The best livestock weighing systems include platform scales from the likes of PEC and SellEton. At the same time, Adam Equipment, Optima, and Prime Scales lead the way in portable scales for dairy farmers. In terms of weight indicators, the TRU TEST Ezi-Weigh comes with several advanced features.

Let's dive into some helpful information about the various types of weighing equipment that can make a perfect Livestock weighing system for dairy farms.

What Equipment Do You Need To Weigh Dairy Livestock?

As livestock weighing equipment is available in many variations, it's essential to do a quick rundown of all the equipment that makes up a successful weighing scale for your dairy farm needs.

First of all, you'll need to decide whether you want to go with a portable station, which you can carry from site to site, or a stationary scale. Similarly most weigh bars come with a weight indicator, but there are plenty of reasons to consider an upgrade in this category, as you'll see below.

Ramps and Chutes for Stationary Systems

You can install weigh bars or a U-shaped pallet scale inside a chute to guide the livestock over the weight scale with ease. By building a dedicated stationary weight scale, you won't have to worry about going through the extra steps of setting up the scale every time.

Platforms for Portable Systems

Platform scales are easy to use since they have ramps on either side so that animals can step on and off the scale without trouble. In addition, many scales and weigh bars come with wheels to move the scale from site to site with ease.

Weight Scale Indicator

Indicators are the pieces of equipment that display the weight of the animal. There are several different types of weight scale indicators on the market. First, consider the benefits of an indicator with advanced features, making the entire process more convenient.

Benefits of Weight Scale Indicator

  • The most advanced indicators are capable of reading ear tags, allowing you to sync data into digital record-keeping programs.
  • Basic models simply show a digital readout of the animal's weight.

Data Collection Equipment

You can automate the data management process by using electronic (EID) ear tag readers, which will track each animal's weight throughout its lifetime. Even with less advanced scales, you can generate printouts of weight data. In addition, you are encouraged to format spreadsheets of data on a computer or mobile device.

Our List of Best Livestock Weighing Equipment

The scales below can get an accurate reading, even if the animal is only standing on the scale for a moment. Also included in many premier weighing systems are EID ear tag readers, which automatically sort weight values by a specific animal. You can learn about these features and much more in the sections below.

Pros

  • Cage enclosure for easy livestock management
  • Comes in three different sizes
  • Fast capture weighing system

Cons

  • Price
  • Bulky, may be hard to transport from one location to another
  • May not fit inside a chute

The SellEton NTEP Livestock Scale Cage System comes in three different sizes: 7'x 10' or 7' x 5' with a 10,000 lb. capacity or 5' x 3' with a 5,000 lb. capacity. This scale comes with attached wheels for easy transport around your farm. A rechargeable battery and AC adapter allow you to wheel your scale to the most convenient location.

The scale comes with a pre-built cage enclosure to keep your livestock stable while weighing them in. A diamond plate surface also ensures that animals remain comfortable throughout the process.

The best feature of the NTEP Livestock Scale is the fast capture weighing function. This speeds up weigh-ins and ensures that an accurate weight is recorded in a timely fashion. In addition, the SellEton NTEP scale scores high marks in terms of user-friendliness, thanks to its simple indicator screen.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Large platform with a ramp
  • Motion-sensing technology

Cons

  • Doesn't come with wheels
  • It may not fit in a chute
  • Rails on the side, but no pre-built fence enclosure

The SellEton SL-929 Livestock Scale comes with one of the largest platforms on the market, measuring 84" x 30". This means that it will be less of a chore getting your livestock to walk up to that sweet spot that'll give you an accurate reading. This scale also comes with an automatic motion sensor, improving accuracy and cutting down on the amount of time you have to spend making sure your livestock stays still.

A diamond-cut surface texture helps prevent slips at weigh-in time. The mild steel frame and load cells made of alloy steel make this a durable scale. As far as weight capacity goes, the SellEton can hold livestock up to 5,000 lbs. in weight, making it suitable for cattle.

This is an alleyway scale, which should provide an accurate reading, even if the animal is moving around on it. The most significant advantage of this type of scale is its versatility. You could easily have a goat, and a cow use this same scale, even though they carry drastically different footprints.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Platform scale with a ramp for easy weigh-ins
  • The indicator has a peak hold function

Cons

  • Doesn't come with a fence or cage-in enclosure
  • No wheels, low portability
  • Doesn't come in many different size options

The PEC Large Livestock Scale is well-suited for accurate readings of medium-to-large animals, claiming accuracy of 1 lb. It has a weight capacity of 4,000 lbs., making it an excellent option for cattle farmers.

This is a floor-style scale, so it does not come with the pre-built enclosure or the wheels that you may see on other types of scales. It does have rails on the side of the platform, which should help prevent animals from stepping off to the side during weigh-ins.

However, the PEC scale scores high marks in durability, thanks to its mild steel frame and alloy steel load cells. You'll also notice that the platform has ramps on either end so that livestock may be led through with ease before they are sent on their way.

Perhaps the best feature is the digital display indicator, which can easily be disconnected and stowed away when the scale is not in use. The indicator also comes with a peak hold function, which will show the maximum weight reading for the animal, even if it fluctuates rapidly due to shifting.

Pros

  • Rated for protection against water and dust
  • Battery indicator with rechargeable battery
  • High weight capacity

Cons

  • Doesn't come with a platform
  • Not the most affordable weight scale
  • Limited size options

The Adam Equipment Pallet Beam Scale comes with a weight capacity of up to 6,600 pounds. This makes it useful for a variety of functions, including weighing cattle or pallets at the farm. The scale does not come with a platform, though, so you may have to build this feature.

The AE 403 weight indicator is standard with this scale. It has several functions, including weighing, parts counting, percentage weighing, check weighing, and dynamic/animal weighing. It also comes with a bracket that can be easily mounted in the most convenient spot for recording weight numbers. This weight indicator can also communicate data with computers and printers.

These types of scales are also easy to move around, thanks to the wheels found at both ends of the scale. This is a great way to go if your cattle are spread apart across multiple different sites so that you don't have to transport cattle solely for a weigh-in.

Perhaps the best feature is the digital display indicator, which can easily be disconnected and stowed away when the scale is not in use. The indicator also comes with a peak hold function, which will show the maximum weight reading for the animal, even if it fluctuates rapidly due to shifting.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good for portable scales
  • Can fit into an existing chute

Cons

  • Doesn't come with a platform
  • No ramp for easy loading
  • Limited size options

These Optima Weigh Bars are another great option for dairy farmers searching for a scale that they can transport anywhere. These weight bars measure 40" x 4" x 3.5" and come with portable wheels attached to each end. This scale can easily be positioned underneath a chute.

The heavy-duty steel load bars are durable and should be able to handle repeated weigh-ins. Handles are attached to the scale, making it easy to carry into a trailer if need be. The complete set weighs just 83 pounds, making it one of the least heavy scales on this list.

Although this is one of the more affordable livestock scales on this list, it still comes with a digital indicator. Additionally, a rechargeable battery ensures that you can weigh your cattle without having to run a cord to the nearest power source.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comes in many different size options
  • Easy to transport to remote locations

Cons

  • Doesn't come with a platform
  • Made of carbon steel
  • It may not be as durable as other options in this list

These PEC Livestock Weigh Bars come with a weight capacity of up to 5,000 lbs. In addition, every bar comes with four top flats with holes for easy mounting. Suppose you are planning on weighing livestock inside a chute. In that case, this gives you plenty of opportunities to customize your weighing equipment. It should also be easy to move the weigh bars from one location to the next, thanks to the handles attached to each weigh bar.

The weigh bars come with a PEC-IN202 indicator that has an animal weighing mode. The indicator has been calibrated with 5,000 divisions for accuracy. The digital readout is easy to observe, and datasheets can be exported to computers and printers.

The best feature of this scale is the diversity of load bar size options. For example, you can purchase a load bar that is just 24" in length or one that is as long as 48". You will also have the option to customize the load bar length if you need to. This way, you don't end up overspending on a weight scale that is larger than what is required for your specific needs.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Suitable for small to medium-sized animals
  • Mild steel frame for durability

Cons

  • Not suitable for weighing cattle
  • Doesn't come with rails to keep animals on the ramp
  • Doesn't come with wheels attached for mobility

For animals smaller than cattle, it's hard to go wrong with the Prime Scales 700 lb. Livestock Scale. The mild steel frame is built to stand the test of time, and the rubber anti-slip mat maximizes animal comfort.

This is a platform-type scale, so it does not come with any pre-built enclosure. It's also worth noting that there are no raised side rails along with the platform. 

Scales of this size are typically used to weigh calves or goats, which may be less disciplined and more prone to sudden movement than adult cattle. This is why it's crucial to take full advantage of scales with quick indicator displays, such as in the Prime Scales small livestock scale.

Pros

  • Can detect electronic ear tags
  • Makes data management simple
  • Can sort weight data into three weight ranges

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Setup may be more challenging
  • May not be the most suitable option for small farms

The TRU TEST EziWeigh 7I comes with a feature that can read electronic (EID) tags on livestock and automatically store weight data by a specific animal. This maximizes the convenience of the weigh-in process and eliminates the potential for valuable weight data to be lost.

Here's how it works:

  • Weight data for each animal is sorted by tag number
  • Data is stored in a file by sessions. If you weighed an animal today and three weeks from now, these would each be stored as separate sessions
  • Data can be transferred to a laptop or PC. In addition, files can easily be shared via email.

These types of indicators are a little bit more expensive than basic weight indicators, but they can be well worth the cost. On the other hand, weight data can be challenging to keep track of, especially if you are managing a large herd of cattle.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Simple to set up
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery for remote use

Cons

  • Doesn't come with an EID ear tag reader
  • Data storage capabilities limited
  • Not as convenient for large farms

This is the most affordable choice as far as indicators go. The SellEton LED Scale Indicator comes with enough conversion power for up to 8 load cells. It comes with a rechargeable battery, a stainless steel bracket for mounting, and an external AC/DC power adapter.

Here are the best features of this indicator:

  • The scale has three different types of signal outputs for printers and computers
  • Encased braided shielding of wires for durability in the field
  • ●A 1-year limited warranty

If your current weight scale indicator is not up to snuff, then you can easily replace it with a new LED indicator without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, this indicator doesn't come with an EID ear tag reader. However, it still is capable of helping you organize data by exporting data sheets to computers and printers.

You can build a DIY weight scale with this A and A Scales FSK Livestock Scale Kit. This is a more affordable option, especially if you have the know-how and the necessary equipment on hand. The kit includes a digital weight indicator, nickel-plated steel load cells, mounting blocks, and a 15 ft. cable.

The load cells can support 5,000 pounds, which will be more than enough to handle dairy livestock, as long as the scale is appropriately constructed. The digital weight indicator can run off either AA batteries, or the kit also comes with an AC adapter.

Although this is an affordable option, you'll need to keep in mind the fact that additional materials (such as a platform) will be necessary for you to construct a functional scale. Unfortunately, the kit does not come with a platform or enclosure of any kind, so these will need to be bought separately.

According to the manufacturer, here is a summary of the steps that will need to be taken to make a DIY livestock scale:

  1. 1
    Weld the four mounting blocks to the bottom of a platform.
  2. 2
    Bolt the load cells to the mounting blocks. Bolts are provided in the kit.
  3. 3
    Wire the load cells and the weight indicator cable together.
  4. 4
    You'll have to finish by calibrating the scale using the process provided in the scale.

Why Do You Weigh Livestock?

Being able to weigh livestock successfully is an essential component for any working dairy farm. First of all, this tells you how healthy your animals are and whether or not they are meeting their developmental goals. Additionally, you'll also need to make sure that you do not overload the trailers during transport.

You can learn more here about which features you should look for on a livestock scale.

What Features to Consider when Livestock Weighing Scale?

Consider Weight Capacity

Full-grown dairy cattle tend to weigh over 1,000 pounds, maxing out around 1,500 to 2,000. Dairy goats tend to weigh 100-300 pounds, so it's essential to get a scale that is capable of handling the livestock on your farm. Fortunately, there are many scales on the market capable of handling both adult cattle and goats.

Decide: Portable or Stationary Scales?

Here's a significant factor that will determine which type of weight scale to get for your dairy farm. If your herd of livestock is limited to one property, then you'll likely be okay with a stationary scale. However, if you have multiple properties spread out over a large area, then a portable scale may make much more sense.

Go For Durability

Pay special attention to the materials that the scale is made out of. You may be able to find a scale that is more affordable than the rest, but it won't be worth it if the scale doesn't last very long. Some of the most durable scales have steel frames and steel alloy, while more affordable options may have carbon steel, which is more brittle and can break easier.

When you are deciding which material to go with, consider your usage patterns. If you don't have a huge farm or only have goats and sheep, you may be fine with carbon steel. But if you have a large herd of cattle, it makes more sense to go with something that will withstand the wear and tear.

Look For Quick Weight Sensors or Motion Sensors

You may notice that many livestock weighing systems advertise motion sensors or quick weight sensors. These features help automate the weigh-in process, giving you an accurate reading within several seconds.

While you're shopping around for weighing systems, you are encouraged to consider the convenience of a sensor that eliminates the stress of trying to keep an animal as still as possible while you try to work the controls.

How Much Does A Livestock Scale Cost?

Livestock scales generally cost somewhere within the wide range of $500-$2,000. Pallet scales tend to be slightly more affordable than platform scales. At the top end of the range, you'll find equipment that comes attached with fences and rails that help keep livestock in place while you weigh them.

As you shop for a weight scale, keep the size of your farm in mind. Suppose you envision yourself weighing several hundred heads of cattle. In that case, it makes sense to go with something durable and easier to use, upon which you can guide cattle on and off with ease.

An upgrade to an EID reader will cost you a little extra, perhaps to the tune of $1,000 or more over what you would typically pay for a basic LED weight scale indicator that comes standard with many weighing systems. You may also have to pay for accessories such as fences, platforms, chutes, and other such equipment that may be necessary to guide livestock onto the scale.

Livestock weight scales can be a costly investment, especially for small farms. The good news is that there are several ways to cut back on spending.

Included below are tips for saving money on your livestock weight scale.

Tips for saving money on your livestock weight scale.

Go With A DIY Kit or Weight Bars

It may not make sense to go with a platform scale if you plan on installing a scale in a chute using weigh bars. The DIY livestock scale kits, like this one mentioned earlier, can pay off big time if you have the necessary equipment on hand to build your scale.

DIY kits may allow you to refurbish or repair old weight scales that aren't effective anymore. You can also purchase weight indicators like this one at an affordable rate, so there may not be a need to splurge on a new scale if you have the know-how to build or repair a piece yourself.


Don't Go With Anything Larger Than What You Need

There are many different sizes of livestock scales available, so there's no need to purchase a weight scale with a weight capacity above and beyond what you need. So if you only have goats, for instance, then there is no need to purchase a weight scale that is rated for cattle.

Take Good Care Of the Scale You Have

Once you purchase livestock weighing equipment, you can get a good return on your investment by taking good care of what you already have.

Below are some tips for extending the life of your livestock scale.

  • If your scale is portable, store it in a cool, dry area when it is not in use.
  • Clean the weighing scale with a damp cloth after usage.
  • Always clean the area under the load bars to prevent a buildup of dirt and manure.

The load bars should never be placed in liquid or sprayed at high pressure since this can damage them and lead to inaccurate readings. The scale may come with dust caps for the connectors, which you should take full advantage of during the times when you are not using the scale.

Final Thoughts

There are many livestock weighing systems on the market, so it can be hard to sift through all the choices to find a scale that best suits your needs. In the sections above, you'll find detailed pros and cons covering each of the top ten livestock weighing systems for dairy farmers. Also included were guidelines on which features dairy farmers should be looking for in weighing systems.

Start by deciding whether you want your weighing system to be portable or stationary. You can also avoid overspending by paying particular attention to the weight capacity of the scale. For example, cattle will need a more robust scale than goats. End off by deciding the degree of automation that you desire. The top weighing systems can automatically categorize weight readings by each animal you place on them.


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