Photo Horn Measurements

The GameLab photo horn measurement software have been developed over a period of two years by their in-house engineering team, and integrated as an additional service into the GameLab Professional Animal Management application, which can be accessed online at www.gamelab.co.za.

The measuring software has been refined and tested to a point where GameLab can estimate horn measurements from one or more high quality photographs within a variance of 1% accuracy. They require at least a 2 megapixel photo, taken with a good camera lens with optical zoom capability. High quality photos yield the most accurate measurements and, while photos taken with a 60 mm or 100 mm lens are sufficient, accuracies within a variance of 0,25% have been achieved with photos taken at distances of 30 – 50 metres with 300 mm to 600 mm camera lenses. Together with each set of results, GameLab will furnish you with the maximum variance for each individual measurement. If the variance falls outside 2% or if the photo quality (pixels) is too low, GameLab will notify you immediately before any final measurement takes place.

How does it work?

The GameLab photo horn measurement software is not available for download or commercial use. Instead, they offer it as a service where one of their qualified technologists will measure all the requested horn characteristics from the photos you send, and forward the results back to you in the form of an official GameLab Horn Measurement Report. If you are a subscribed user on the online GameLab Professional Animal Management application, your horn measurement results will be automatically added to the table of previous measurements in your animal’s profile, and charted against your herd average.

In order for GameLab to do the photo horn measurements, your animal needs to be tagged with one of their approved SafeTag ear tags with the laser printed circle on. These tags are printed individually and each tag goes through a quality check before being shipped from the factory. Tags from manufacturers other than SafeTag must be avoided at all cost, since they are normally mass produced at a steep printing angle which causes the circle to be printed as an oval and renders the tag useless for photo measurements. GameLab tags are sold directly from the factory, at factory prices.

What are the advantages of photo horn measurements?

Aside from seasonal and normal market fluctuations, the monetary value of wildlife has always been driven by horn length and genetic quality of animals. Equally important, is the genetic transferability of these traits backed by a proven pedigree, and whether other factors such as nutritional support can be implemented to optimise both performance and reproductivity of your animals. The GameLab Professional Animal Management application provides you with a platform where you can save and analyse all this data in a secure cloud-based environment, accessible from anywhere in the world.

Photo horn measurements play a crucial part of the comprehensive GameLab system, and offer the following advantages:

  • No need for costly and risky darting of your animals for purposes of measurement
  • Horn growth can be measured and charted as frequently as you want
  • Low-cost, non-invasive procedure that avoids deterioration or pauses in horn growth resulting from stress of darting
  • Provides you with the vital information when selecting animals for auction or breeding and hunting programs
  • Early warning mechanism to determine nutritional and mineral deficiencies
  • Charted horn growth curve to determine the various effects on progressive horn growth and predict mature horn characteristics
  • Supported by selected large insurers in the form of more favourable insurance terms

Where do I start and what are the procedures?

Step 1:   Tag your animal with a GameLab approved laser printed circle ear tag.

Step 2:   Take a front view photo of your animal (for 2D measurements such as spread) or both a front- and side view photo (for a full 3D set of all measurable traits)

Step 3:  Upload the photos directly on www.gamelab.co.za in the Horn Measurements section or email it to photos@gamelab.co.za.

Step 4:   Receive your measurements from GameLab in the form of an official horn measurement report, with measurements imported into your animal’s profile if you are a registered GameLab subscriber.

What are the photo requirements?

The following are very important points you need to remember when taking the photos of your animals for measurement:

  • Camera type: you can use any good camera body (e.g. Nikon, Canon, Pentax) with interchangeable lens. Compact cameras are not recommended due to low lens and zoom quality. GameLab cannot measure from any photos taken with cell phones and similar micro cameras, so please avoid these completely.
  • Lens type: you can use any good brand lens, with a minimum focal length of 50 mm. Being a still image, GameLab can only measure what they see. Therefore, the higher the focal length and image quality, the more accurate their measurement. The recommended lens focal length is between 200mm and 600mm.
  • Image resolution: recommended 8 or more megapixels, but at least 2 megapixel
  • Distance: photos should ideally be taken at a distance of between 10 – 50 metres (or even further if a very high quality lens is used) and with only optical zoom applied. Due to the fact that all lenses have a curvature that may distort the appearance of the final image at closer ranges, close-up photos taken from less than 5 metres away cannot be measured accurately and may be rejected.
  • Zooming: only optical zoom must be applied (i.e. by turning the lens). Please do not use digital zooming under any circumstances, since this will distort the final image and render it useless.
  • Orientation: the ideal photos should be taken directly from the front and side, but a lenience of 25 degrees is allowed. The camera must be at relatively the same height as the animal’s head, and photos should not be taken from a steep incline or decline.
  • Tag, horns and face: in order to perform your measurements, GameLab needs to see both horns fully together with the eye and nose of the animal on the photo (both eyes and nose if taken from the front). The tag can appear in any orientation but the full outlines of the circle must be visible on the photograph. For instance, a tag orientated at 60 degrees on both axis, may render an elliptic appearance of the circle. This is completely acceptable as long as GameLab can see the full ellipse.
  • Resizing and cropping of photos: although the unaltered original image is preferred, you may crop the relevant part (head and horns) of the photo in order to reduce the size. However, do not resize the photo under any circumstances. This will cause a highly inferior, pixelated version of the image to be saved through digital conversion and GameLab will not be able to use it for measurements at all.
  • Sending of photos: You can upload your photos directly online under the Horn Measurements section of the gamelab.co.za web application. Alternatively, you can send your photos by email to photos@gamelab.co.za. Please first check with your internet service provider whether you have a size limited for outgoing emails, in which case you might want to send only a few photos at a time.
  • Number of photos: although GameLab only needs one photo from the front and one from the side, we recommend that you take two or three photos from each angle. This is not only useful for your own record keeping, but will also help GameLab in selecting the best photo for measurement.

Examples of photos required:

Spread and SCI tip-to-tip (2D measurement):

For 2D measurements where we measure just spread, SCI tip-to-tip or 2D tip-to-tip we only require one photo with the animal facing the camera (front view). Both horns, both eyes, the nose and the ear tag must be clearly visible.


Full set of 3D measurements (SCI total, horn length left and right, tip-to-tip, rings left and right, horn tip left and right etc.)

For 3D measurements where we measure the full set of measurable traits, we require one photo with the animal facing the camera, and one photo from the side. Both horns, the nose, one eye and the ear tag must be clearly visible.

What are the costs?

2D measurements               =              R100 per full set of measurements
3D measurements               =              R200 per full set of measurements