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Reprinted from The Highland Cattle Society (Scotland) Newsletter.

The Use of Frame Scores

Breeding livestock cannot be selected on one factor alone but the use of height measurement and frame scores can be an aid to the selection and production of a growthier type of Highlander.

The frame score system (FSS) of measuring and assessing the growth potential of cattle was developed at the University of Missouri and has been adopted by the majority of cattle breeders throughout the world to the extent that it is now an international measurement of frame size.

A frame score is obtained for an animal by taking a height measurement at the rump which in conjunction with the animal’s age can be converted into a score. It is a proven fact, all things being environmentally equal, that a calf born with a larger frame size than its contemporaries will maintain that advantage throughout life and end up the taller more mature animal. It is upon this fact that the use of frame scores is based. The measurements within a frame score bracket are merely the growth pattern of an animal from month to month until maturity.

A bull at 7 months old measuring 38” will be classified as Frame Score 2 and will end up at a mature height of approximately 49” whereas a bull of Frame Score 4 would be 42” at 7 months old and should produce a mature height of 53”

It is one might think easy to visually compare cattle the same age and select the tallest and growthiest but the advantage of the frame score system is that you can measure bulls of different ages and convert these measurements into a frame score thereby assessing the growth potential and maturity size of cattle at different stages of life.

It is interesting to note the frame scores and relative prices of Highland bulls at the Oban, Scotland, February 1989 Sale :

Frame Score Total Number Average Prices £
4 and over 7 £2602
3 16 £3,058
2 16 £1,588
1 4 £817

Champion Bull — Frame Score 3.5

Reserve Champion — Frame Score 4

The table below shows clearly where the requirements of bull purchasers lie. The frame score system can be used to measure and eliminate those uneconomical bulls at an early age and save on expensive feed bills.

Frame scores are not being recommended as a yardstick to see who can produce the largest, hardiest and uneconomical Highlander on four bad legs. Other breeds have done that. The frame score system is to be used in conjunction with other economically important factors to assist in the production of Highlanders that can claim a place in the cattle industry of the future.

Frame Score Chart

Reprinted from The Highland Cattle Society (Scotland) Newsletter.

Measurements have been converted to millimetres (the original article was in inches)

Age in Months Frame Score Frame Score Frame Score Frame Score Frame Score Frame Score
  1 2 3 4 5 6
6 889 940 991 1041 1092 1143
7 914 965 1016 1067 1118 1168
8 940 991 1041 1092 1143 1194
9 965 1016 1067 1118 1168 1219
10 991 1041 1092 1143 1194 1245
11 1016 1067 1118 1168 1219 1270
12 1041 1092 1143 1194 1245 1295
13 1054 1105 1156 1207 1257 1308
14 1067 1118 1168 1219 1270 1321
15 1080 1130 1181 1232 1283 1334
16 1092 1143 1194 1245 1295 1346
17 1105 1156 1207 1257 1308 1359
18 1118 1162 1219 1270 1321 1372
19 1124 1175 1226 1276 1327 1378
20 1130 1181 1232 1283 1334 1384
21 1137 1187 1238 1289 1340 1391
22 1143 1194 1245 1295 1346 1397
23 1149 1200 1251 1302 1353 1403
24 1156 1207 1257 1308 1359 1410
Maturity 1194 1245 1295 1346 1397 1448

Measurements above have been converted to millimetres (the original article was in inches, see below)

For those that prefer imperial measurements here is the original chart in inches ...