Livestock scales inspection program has a new billing system

SPARKS, Nev. – Livestock scales inspections by the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) will start in mid-May and go through the third week in August of 2015.

 “NDA is changing to an annual billing system for scales inspections. Fees paid for inspections will be billed through the mail and not at the time of the inspection," said Bart O’Toole, administrator of NDA’s Division of Consumer Equitability, which oversees weights and measures programs for the state.

Annual licensing fees are due in August, and scale owners should not wait for inspectors to arrive for an inspection to pay the fee.

NDA tests livestock scales throughout the state each year.

“By moving inspections to later in the year, producers will have a better window to video sale due to the more stringent, eight month prior to sale of livestock, recertification criteria," O’Toole said. “By testing livestock scales, we ensure ranch owners and scale owners are getting accurate readings. A scale out of tolerance could result in the loss of profit of hundreds of dollars.

“When sending livestock to market, the price tag for the animal is determined by the pound. If a scale is running light, you could be giving livestock away because every pound counts,” O’Toole added. “The more out of tolerance the scale, the more money the owner is losing.”

By testing the livestock scales every year, NDA makes sure ranchers are getting the profit they deserve.

On average, NDA inspectors issue repair tags for about 25 to 30 percent of scales tested.

Typically a blue tag is issued rather than a red tag to give the owner more time to fix the problem. When a blue tag is issued, owners have 30 days to repair minor issues. A red tag is issued when major issues are discovered and need to be repaired immediately. If a scale is tagged it will need to be repaired by a Registered Service Agent/Scale Mechanic before NDA inspectors return for a recheck.

To help prepare ranch/scale owners, NDA has created a checklist to ensure their scale is ready to be inspected. The inspection typically takes about an hour to complete.

See checklist below:

Mandatory:  These items will be an automatic tag/failure if not addressed before we arrive.

  • Scale Deck:  Needs to be clean and free of debris so we can see the condition of the deck boards/scale surface.  We will not drive the skid steer onto a deck that is in a weakened condition. If we cannot see your scale deck we will not put our skid steer on your scale.
  • Scale Ramps:  Approach ramps must be level and constructed with solid fill material.  Ramps must be smooth to prevent excessive rocking and bouncing of skid steer when it is accessing your scale.  If your scale has three inches, or more, of a difference in height between the scale deck and the ramp we will not be able to get onto the scale safely.  Metal frame work and rubber mats at the entrance to the scale can be slick and may prevent us from getting onto your scale.  Scale ramps need to be installed prior to our arrival. 
  • Beam Box:  This needs to be clean so we can operate and zero the scale.  There can be no wasps, bees, spiders, or rodent nests of any kind.  Make sure slide mechanisms move freely. 
  • Corrals:  NO livestock where we need to access the scale.  It is not our responsibility to move your animals. 
  • Alleyways:  They need to be clear for access with our skid steer.  There should be nothing piled in the way. No panels, no pallets, no fencing material, no water/feed tubs, no hoses, no tools and no animals.  All weeds and vegetation that obstruct our view of the ground need to be removed. 
  • Gates:  Open or easily opened.  
  • Digital Scales:  Digital units must be fully charged or a power supply provided.  Weights & Measures will not provide power for your equipment. 

Recommended: Many scales fail because they are dirty.  It is in your best interested to make sure your scale is its best condition.  Remember, scale rechecks are costly.

  • Scale Edges:  They need to be clean of rocks, dirt, sticks, dried animal waste, etc. so the scale deck moves without binding.  A bound up scale will not weigh correctly.
  • Underneath Scale Deck:  This needs to be clean so there is nothing clogging the scale mechanisms or causing the scale to hang up.  Be sure to clean the beams and rails under the scale deck.  Dirt and animal waste build up and rodent nests need to be cleaned out.
  • Scale Frame:  Nothing tied to the scale and nothing leaning against the scale.  Do not forget to check overhead, as well.  No panels, no pallets, no fencing material, no water/feed tubs, etc.  Items tied to the scale frame can cause erroneous scale readings. 
  • Ranch or Scale Owner Representative Present or Readily Available:  With the costs associated with a revisit it is recommended that a representative be present or readily available. This is particularly advantageous if the scale is geography separated from the ranch office.

For more information about why NDA checks livestock scales, watch our video