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  Miniature Hereford Breeders Association

How to read the Frame Score chart

The MHBA frame score chart is used as a guide to determine the height of your Miniature Hereford. 

Frame score is a convenient way of describing the skeletal size of cattle. As cattle increase in height with age, many animals can maintain the same frame score throughout their life, while other animals that mature earlier or later can fluctuate between frame scores as they grow and age. This is why we only recommend that the frame score chart be utilized as a guide, not a 'set in stone' size score...that is, until that animal reaches maturity. Final animal frame scores are more accurate following maturity (2-3 years and older). 

Environmental factors can also alter an animal’s growth rate from its genetic capability, and hence can influence the animals eventual height.  Cattle being raised on thick lush grass might reach their optimal frame score at a younger age compared to those who are raised on extremely dry rangeland with sparse amounts of available forages. 

The animals individual nutrition level is also a major contributing factor to height while growing. Cattle fed less than adequate nutrition will grow more slowly and achieve a smaller size than what is anticipated within the frame score chart. Cattle fed extremely high levels of proteins will grow faster and will typically settle into a particular height (inches) at an earlier age; thereby, altering their frame scores during growth and maturity.   This is why the Frame Score chart is not used to determine eligibility of cattle to exhibit in shows, but rather, the MHBA has established a cap on the maximum height (in inches, not referencing frame score designations) for the cattle at shows.  The official height requirements for cattle to be considered "Miniature Herefords" are 45" for females and 48" for bulls and steers. Any animal exceeding these maximum heights (at any age) are no longer considered "Miniatures" and are then considered "Classics" (according to the established frame score charts of the MHBA and AHA). 

Frame scores should be used only as guides comparing animal height.  Keep in mind that animal height may vary due to:

  • animal nutritional status,
  • feeding programs,
  • environment, and
  • inaccuracy of measurement (measuring at the incorrect location on the back, feet not properly placed, cattle not standing on level ground, etc.).

Please remember that to be considered a Miniature Hereford that your females at maturity are no taller than 45".  Bulls & Steers no taller than 48".

Now, let's look at the frame score charts below and learn how to interpret them.

Example 1:  You are getting ready to attend a show with your market steer, Freddy (18 months old).  After measuring him at home to be 44" tall, you know that you're eligible to compete.  But you'd like to know what Freddy's actual frame score is at this age.  So, you pull up the MHBA Bulls Frame Score chart (all males utilize the "bulls" frame score chart).  The first task is to locate his age bracket on the far right side of the chart. Scrolling down until you reach "18," you can then move to the left on that row to locate his height in inches.  Fortunately, the first height you come to is Freddy's 44-inches, so you then follow that column back to the top of the chart and learn that Freddy is now considered a Frame Score 1.

Example 2:  You are interested in purchasing an 11-month-old heifer that measures 35" tall.  What is her frame score?  To determine her frame score at this age, you go to the MHBA Females Frame Score chart.  Locate her age within the "age" column. At the "11" month row, then follow that row over to the left until you find her current height. You notice that "35 inches" is not exactly listed in this row.  However, this heifer currently measures taller than the Frame score 00 (which is 34.25") but is shorter than Frame score 0 (which is 36.25").  This would make your heifer a Frame score of 00 since she did not reach the next height level. 


How to properly measure for Frame Score

When you are going to measure for a Frame Score, you will need the proper materials. 

  • A frame score stick (purchased or home made)                           or a Frame Score chute
  • A show stick or other object to assist in foot placement
  • A halter (to keep animal still while measurement is taken as well as to properly set head).



Before you even begin to take a measurement on your cattle, it is imperative that you know where you will be taking your measurement at. If you do not measure in the correct location you will not have an accurate height measurement (in inches) to find the Frame Score.  




 You will be taking height measurement across the hooks (the hip bone).  Be sure that prior to taking the measurement that your animal is standing properly. Head should be naturally up, front feet straight down from the front shoulder and evenly spaced apart. Rear feet should also be straight down from the hips, not too far forward and under themselves or too far behind them, be sure that the feet are evenly spaced apart. Do not profile cattle for heigh measurements. Hips should be level from hooks to pins. Your cattle should be standing relaxed and naturally...do not loin them as you will not receive an accurate measurement, which could influence the Frame Score designation.  


Helpful videos displaying proper frame score measurement techniques are coming soon.....

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