Understanding MSI Scores

The MSI Scanner can quickly and accurately measure height, width, length and weight.  From these measurements we produce a Frame Score, Muscle Score, Shape Score and a Type Classification for each animal.  It is important to note that these scores are not identical to the various breed association scores for frame or muscle because we do not use the individual age of the animal to adjust the scores.  BioSort® scores are based on actual measurements with no adjustments.  Adjustments to the BioSort® scores can be made depending on the availability of breed adjustment factors (i.e. adjusted yearling frame score).

            The MSI system works the same way your eye does.  It measures and quantifies what it actually sees and what is actually present.

Selection of Bulls and Replacement Heifers by BioSort® Type

            From the MSI Scanner, Frame Score (3 to 7), Muscle Score (1 to 4), Shape Score (-20 to +20) and BioSort® Type (A, B, C) is printed for each animal. Shape is a more specific classification within the BioSort® Type class and can be used to select either easier fleshing or higher growth cattle within the BioSort® Type class.  Different types and shapes perform better or worse for a given environment or management.  It is your job to determine what type or shape is most profitable for you.  In general, “B” Type animals are more balance and moderate in their type and have the best chance of reproducing a more balanced beef animal.  The “A” Type animals tend to be thicker easier fleshing with smaller mature weights, and the “C” Type animals tend to be taller with more total growth potential but a longer growth curve.

            The scanner can be used as a tool to improve your herd and move the averages of your herd’s frame, muscle, and weight towards the goals you would like to achieve with your calf crop.  For example, if your cow herd favors the “A” Type and your goal is to get more weight, frame and growth to your calves, you can pick the bulls that have the shape parameters less than 0 and approach or are in the “C” Type.  These bulls have more frame in comparison to muscle and will “stretch” your calves more than a shorter bull. Conversely if your cow herd favors the “C” Type and your goal is to get more fleshing ability, add more muscle and efficiency to your calves, you can pick bulls that have shape parameters greater than 0 and approach or are in the “A” Type class.  These bulls have more thickness and flesh in comparison to frame and will “firm-up” or add more substance to your calves.

By balancing and matching the bulls and replacement heifers with the shape score, you should be able to move your herd averages towards your goals.  As you review the data on the bulls offered for sale, look for bulls with similar shape scores.  They form Look-A-Like groups that you can choose from.  The shape that you like or want is your personal preference; we just help you identify the bulls that fit your program ahead of time and give you more of a selection to bid on.


            BioSort® frame scores range from 3 (short) to 7 (tall) with 7 being the tallest image the MSI booth can capture and measure and 3 being the shortest image the MSI booth can capture and measure.  BioSort® Frame is actually a measure of the size of the animal.  It is a combination of measurements in height, width, and length.  It does not take individual birth date into account but does take general age category into account (i.e. Calf, yearling, long yearling).  Adjusted yearling frame score does adjust the BioSort® frame score to a year of age.


            BioSort® muscle scores range from 1 (very thin) to 4 (very thick) with 1 being the narrowest image the MSI booth can capture and measure and 4 being the widest image the MSI booth can capture and measure.  BioSort® Muscle is actually a measure of the combined factors of muscular development, maturity, fatness, and over all condition of the animal.  It is basically a ratio or relationship of the animal’s width to its height.  The wider the animal is for a given height, the higher the muscle score and the narrower the animal is for a given height, the lower the muscle score.


            Shape scores are a combination of frame and muscling, without regard to weight.  Cattle grouped by shape score and weight provide the most uniform groups with highest prediction accuracies for either a breeding environment or a feeding environment.  However, in order to put together large groups we have grouped certain shapes into classes (A, B, C).  “A” type cattle are similar to USDA feeder calf grade small and medium frame 1’s and 2’s, “B” type cattle compare to medium and large frame 1’s and 2’s and “C” type cattle compare to large frame 1’s and 2’s.   Shape scores +8 through +20 are classed as “A” types, scores –7 through +7 are classed as “B” types and scores –8 through –20 are classed as “C” types.

BioSort® Type

            BioSort® Type is shape for a given weight category.  For example a BioSort® Type 7.5A would be an animal weighing between 725 and 775 pounds, with a class A body type (shorter frame, thicker muscle).  BioSort® Type groups produce very uniform functional sized groups of cattle within a given weight range for both, a breeding environment, or a feeding environment.  “A” type cattle are easier fleshing, shorter thicker cattle with lower mature weights and a lower feedlot end weight.  “B” type cattle are the moderate cattle with moderate mature weights and a moderate feedlot end weight.  “C” type cattle are the larger thinner cattle with higher mature weights, more gain potential and a higher feedlot end weight.


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