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Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm getting a sheep scale!

I have been really wanting a livestock scale for a while now.

I never had any interest in weighing sheep until this year, when I thought a yearling ewe was going to be too small to breed. The "husband on a bathroom scale" was used to weigh her, but that won't always be practical.
For one thing, I try to do every farm chore I can by myself, and only ask hubby to do things I simply don't have the physical strength to do alone. And asking him to boost a four year old ram...and hold him while I try to read the weight, that's asking a bit much of anybody.

I also don't want sheep poopy on my bathroom scale.

I've gotten increasingly curious about how much my lambs weigh, and my adult sheep as well. I'm horrible at trying to guess weights.
I thought about trying to find a used livestock scale to buy, but disease is always a concern and I'll bet a used scale coming from a commercial sheep outfit would be just loaded with little nasties.

So today, when checking my e-mail, I received an e-mail ad from Sydell. I thought I'd poke around on their site, and see what they had available for sale. Hmmm... a sheep scale for $400. A lot less expensive than a lot of livestock scales out there, a LOT less, but still more than I wanted to spend.
I wondered if scales designed to accommodate large dogs would be less pricey? So I googled "veterinary scales".
Most of these scales were much more expensive, running into the thousands. I really only wanted one that would go up to 150 lbs. If I have Shetlands weighing more than that, I've got a bit of a problem.

But I did eventually find one company offering a walk-on scale that goes up to 700 lbs., for only $315, with free shipping. I can even put it by my head gate and weigh the sheep while I perform routine maintenance on them. A free rubber mat for traction and easy disinfecting was included. This sounds like a good deal. I don't think I'd ever find a new scale priced more reasonably than that.

The website is www.balances.com. The scale I'm buying is the Weigh South VS-2501 Vet Scale. 42 X 20 platform. Suitable for dogs, up to larger stock such as llamas.

Purebred animals can drift, over time and generations, into resembling other breeds. Sizes can begin to trend up or down, and appearances can slowly warp, depending on the traits that breeders select for, and away from. Sometimes this is a good and healthy thing to have happen. Sometimes it isn't, and the subject is almost always the topic of debate and discussion in a breed organization's membership.
Like micron testing, this scale will be a useful tool for me. I would like to keep my sheep from gradually, over the years, drifting away from the traditionally recommended weights for Shetlands. It will also be useful for selling cull sheep to meat buyers by the pound, and letting potential customers know how much a sheep weighs if they are interested in knowing that.

4 comments:

Theresa said...

Juliann,
Jeff would like for you to bring your scale, if possible, to WSWF as he would like to see it. We'll need to get one to fit in the chute system as the big postal scale we have won't do.

Cynthia said...

Good for you Juliann. We've been weighing here from our first Shetland. It is SUCH a helper in every way. Aside from obvious health benefits, guessing weights leads to exactly the same results as guessing fleece qualities. A huge "oh no."

Becky Utecht said...

Wow, that sounds like a very good buy Juliann. I need a scale too, I'll check out the link.

Bill Stearman said...

Good for you Juliann! What a great way to see and manage trends in your flock.

... and since it weighs 'up to 700 pounds' ... you could use it to weigh ME ... hehehe