Cattle mature frame scores

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The length of a yardstick has not changed, but the way we use the yardstick must be updated to more accuractly reflect current genetics. This rings especially true with beef cattle stature, as it is one of the most heritable traits under our control. Hip height at a given age, converted to a 1 to 10 scale frame score, has been used since the s to estimate the growth curve and resulting mature skeletal size of beef cattle Figure 1. Although height increases with age, most animals maintain a constant frame score during their lifetime. Frame score has assisted breeders in determining how large a replacement heifer will become as a mature cow or the projected harvest weight of feeder steers and heifers. A few seasoned commercial cattlemen I know recently shied away from buying bulls of less than a frame score of 6.
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Frame Score, Frame Size and Weight

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Frame scoring of beef cattle

Measurements for height have been used as a descriptive supplement in many herd testing programs. Adjusted weights and weight ratios accompanied by linear measurements for height have added another dimension to evaluating fat-lean ratio of an individual animal in a performance program. No one frame size for an animal will be best for all feed resources, breeding systems, and markets. Long-term economic return should determine the optimum frame-size range within a given set of resources, breeding system, and market specifications. Frame score is a convenient way of describing the skeletal size of cattle. With appropriate height growth curves, most animals should maintain the same frame score throughout their life, while their actual height increases with age. This allows one frame score value to be used regardless of when the animal was evaluated.
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Do beef cattle frame scores need updating?

The height of a beef animal at a given age can be used as a measure of its maturity type, or growth curve potential. It may assist the breeder to determine where animals best fit into a breeding program—whether, for example, a bull is better suited to producing vealers or steers. Height can also be used as an aid to predict the growth and fattening pattern of a beast, as well as its mature size. In this way, frame size can be a helpful adjunct to other performance records when selecting stock.
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Body size is an important genetic factor in beef cattle production. Historically, size was first estimated by measurements such as height or length. As scales were developed, weight became more common as a measure of size. Although measurement and weight are related, their rates of maturity differ. By 7 months of age, cattle reach about 80 percent of mature height but only 35 to 45 percent of mature weight.
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