DairyNZ Body Condition Scoring videos
Body Condition Scoring videos
How to Body Condition Score
Body condition scoring is a simple process. However, it is important to calibrate the eye by first condition scoring cows "hands on" at the dairy. Then you are ready to BCS in the paddock:
Line up 15 cows with a range of BCS
- Put your hands on the important body parts (see: link to image on page 6-7 of booklet)
- Feel the amount of fat cover over the various body points and the difference between the cows. Note that gut fill can give visual impression of condition over the ribs; it is, therefore, important to feel the amount of fat cover.
- Average the different areas to come up with the BCS for that cow.
What to look when you condition score cows
- Backbone - Is it flat or is there a ridge? Can you see or easily feel notches?
- Long ribs - Can you see or easily feel the ribs? If visible how many can you see?
- Short ribs - Can you see the short ribs? What do they feel like? Are the rib ends sharp or rounded?
- Hip bones - Are the hip bones rounded or angular?
- Rump - Is the area between the pins and hip bones, flat, sunken or hollow?
- Pin bones - Are they pointed, "tap" like or rounded?
- Tailhead - Is there a hollow between the tail head and pin bones? Is it a deep V or shallow U shape?
- Thigh - Is the area indented, flat or rounded? Is the muscle structure defined.
Critical Points for Body Condition Scoring
Visual Body Condition Scoring for Herd Management
How many cows should I score usually?
- Familiarise yourself with what to look for by assessing 15 cows
- Use a simple recording system and assess the herd
- Stand amongst a group of cows in the paddock and record the BCS of each one on the sheet, viewing them from their right-hand side and rear
- Once finished move around the paddock to another group
- Body condition score at least 70 cows to get a good indication of the average and the range of BCSs within the herd.
- Allows a large proportion of the herd to be assessed quickly
- Gives a good indication of the range of BCS within the herd
- Allows a quick comparison with the BCS of the herd from previous assessments
Using the BCS recording chart
Download the DairyNZ BCS recording chart template here.
This example shows that, of the cows that were assessed, the average was 4.2. Turn the table upside down and you will see a bar graph of the BCS distribution.
A separate sheet should be used for first lactation cows to allow you to distinguish them from the mature cows as they are still growing and need to be in a higher BCS at calving.