Livestock & Cattle Scales

Weighing cattle and other livestock is an integral part of ranching and farming. Much information, including the health and diet of animals, to the profit from livestock sales, is linked to accurate animal weights. Modern livestock scales are the ideal tool to make the critical task of weighing livestock easier, faster, safer and more cost effective.

With the proven reputation of turning investment into profit, Rice Lake Weighing Systems Livestock Scales can make a measurable difference in farming and ranching applications. The durable weighbridge design and NTEP approval combined with safety features and domestic quality construction make Rice Lake Livestock Scales the best choice for our customers.


Livestock scales are either electronic or mechanical and are designed for weighing large animals such as cattle or horses, as well as smaller animals, such as sheep and goats. These scales are typically a pen type configuration built to weigh livestock in a secure and stable environment even when the animals are in motion. In addition to farms and ranches, they are ideal for stockyards and feedlots when daily weighing of a variety of livestock is the norm. Outside the farm, this specialized weighing equipment can be essential for large animal veterinarians and zoos.

Livestock scales are designed for durability and to withstand corrosive elements found when handling animals. Choices of steel, concrete, wooden or rubberized deck surfaces are offered. Be sure to choose the best deck surface for you and your animal’s needs. If your scale will be housed outdoors, your scale will need to handle weather conditions particular to your climate, debris, dust as well as animal waste. Since livestock scales need to be thoroughly cleaned for the health and safety of the animals, you may want to invest in a model with surfaces capable of withstanding frequent wash-downs. With so many different options available, Quality Scales Unlimited can help you choose the best solution for your business needs.

Selecting Your Livestock Scale

Quality Scales Unlimited is a partner with many California and Nevada ranchers who depend on accurate scales to weigh livestock. Most livestock scales are pen configurations which provide a safe and secure environment for weighing animals. These pen style scales are available from a variety of manufacturers with Stationary, Portable and Mobile options. Manufacturers also offer single and group animal weighing capabilities as well as a variety of sizes, gate closures, deck materials and frequent wash-down surfaces. Weight capacities, weighing technologies and display options will also vary. Below you will find popular options of pen style livestock scales available to help you make your decision easier.

Mobile, Stationary & Portable Livestock Scales

Mobile livestock scales are designed to be easily transported to your animals. These can be conveniently hitched directly to any pickup truck and are driven to the location of your animals. Rice Lake Weighing Systems has patented the first legal-for-trade Mobile Group Animal Scale designed for weighing up to 15-20 head at one time. This scale is built to be used at multiple sites and is engineered for unpredictable terrain and conditions. (Any U.S. business that buys, sells or charges based upon weight must use a “Legal for Trade” scale. Legal for trade scales are tested and sealed by government agencies insuring the scale’s legal accuracy.) The scale has deck and pen sides and is suspended on load cells at four points within a portable base frame. The mobile scale has an independent air ride suspension which allows it to be moved in and out of weighing mode through a manual lift/lower lever system. When the scale is in weigh-mode the deck is 6” off the ground. The low profile of the weighing platform makes loading and unloading animals quick, safe and easy.

Portable livestock scales are designed to be transported to multi weighing sites via flat bed truck or similar vehicle. Most portable group animal scales are legal for trade and suitable for the unpredictable conditions of multiple site weighing. The scales have deck and pen sides and are suspended on load cells at four points within a portable base frame. The Rice Lake Weighing System’s portable livestock scale has a deck measuring 6” off the ground when in weigh-mode for quick, safe and easy loading and unloading animals.

Shrink Factor

Whether selling, cattle, hogs or other livestock, minimizing shrink loss is a major factor in maximizing a ranch’s bottom line. Shrink is the term used for the amount of weight an animal loses while traveling to an off-site scale. (Example-One hundred head of cattle at 800 lbs/80,000 lbs will on average shrink 8% when traveling off site to be weighed. If selling your cattle at $1.50 per lb, you could potentially be losing $120,000.) Studies have proven shrink will be reduced by 6% on average when the animal is weighed at the site. With the ability to bring the mobile or portable scale to the animals you are reducing the shrink factor to approximately 2% and potentially increasing profits 5-6 percent. This increased profitability could be the deciding factor when choosing a mobile or portable verse a stationary livestock scale.

Stationary livestock scales are set up at one location and the animals are brought to the scale for weighing. Stationary group animal scales are available in a variety of sizes and capacities as well as sizes and capacities for weighing single animals. A stationary group animal livestock scale is a pen configuration with a 20-30 ton capacity typically measuring between 8 and 10 feet wide and 20 feet in length. Legal for trade options are available.

Mechanical and Electronic Load Cell Weighing

If you are purchasing a stationary livestock scale, you will need to decide between a mechanical or load cell weighing system. A mechanical scale uses a traditional pipe lever weighing system and is the most economical option. Load cell weighing systems are the newest weighing technology, fully electronic and are generally more accurate than mechanical systems, but are more costly. Be sure to consult the QSU sales team for the best choice for your business.

Flooring Surface Choices

There are various flooring surface choices for livestock scales. Many scale manufacturers have developed their best solution to flooring surfaces for scales and boast their flooring features to the customer. Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Company uses a patented ridged concrete deck surface they developed for superior footing properties for animals. Rice Lake Weighing Systems uses X-Lug Flooring they developed from discarded plastic and rubber. X-Lug flooring is rot and abrasion resistant and does not harbor moisture and bacteria. RLWS supports their environmentally friendly product because they believe it gives the best traction for animals when conditions get wet and sloppy. Wood and steel are other more economical options and may be suitable for your business. When selecting your flooring surface, consider the traction provided in wet, sloppy conditions and how well it will resist corrosion and bacteria. Consult your scale provider for questions you may have.

Wash-down Capabilities

All livestock scales are built to withstand the harsh conditions of handling animals and their waste. But, some manufacturers offer superior surfaces capable of very frequent wash downs and extreme conditions. Check with the QSU sales team for possible surfaces for extreme scale conditions.

Gate Options

Manufacturers have developed various options for gates and latches. QSU can help you find the best gate and latch system for your animal needs. Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Company Harvester Livestock Scales have two-end swing gates with an easy closing latch- two features they think are superior to the competition. Manufacturers generally will have a single swinging gate with a latch on a single animal scale and variations of a two gate closure on group animal scales.

Indicators/Weigh Centers for Livestock Scales

Programmed for the specific needs of animal weighing, Rice Lake Weighing Systems has a digital weight indicator, 590-AG, designed for ranching and farming. The software allows users to weigh animals in groups or individually. It also has the capability of tracking shrink, head count and total herd weight.

The mobile and portable Rice Lake Weighing Systems livestock scales have On-board weigh centers conveniently mounted on the exterior of the pens. A legal for trade ticket can be printed instantly on site for transaction records.

Featured Products:  Livestock Loading Chutes & Scales – Vital elements to working with livestock

Quality Scales Unlimited offers portable and permanent livestock scales and livestock loading chutes. Quality Scales Unlimited works with a number of vendors to provide supplementary livestock equipment to work in conjunction with their livestock weighing equipment.

In a recent example, QSU helped provide a portable livestock loading chute to work with our portable Rice Lake MAS-M livestock scale. The Ranch we were working with required their equipment to be portable as they had livestock at multiple hill ranches, thus requiring them to move their equipment when their livestock needed to be weighed.

Loading chutes are used in the livestock industry to assist in moving cattle to and from vehicles, scales, and open grazing areas. Loading chutes can be portable or stationary and vary in lengths from 12 feet to over 16 feet based on customer need.

If you are in the market for livestock weighing equipment or equipment to work with your livestock scale, please contact Quality Scales Unlimited Sales Team!