BCS Assessor Certification


5 min read

Benefits of certification Steps to become certified Spring BCS events Feedback process

The Body Condition Score (BCS) Assessor Certification Programme in New Zealand trains rural professionals to standardise condition scoring. Accurate BCS assessment supports decision-making and animal welfare evaluations. Using a Certified BCS Assessor ensures reliable scoring in line with the NZ BCS system. The assessor programme is seeking to ensure that the services of a certified BCS Assessor are available to all dairy farmers in all regions. To become certified, you should attend a training workshop, pass a BCS assessment, and annually maintain your status.

The Body Condition Score Assessor Certification Programme is designed for rural professionals to help standardise condition scoring across New Zealand.

Accurate body condition score (BCS) assessment is essential when it is being used to support decision making or as a criteria in animal welfare assessments.

Farmers can use a Certified BCS Assessor to score their herd with the confidence that their chosen assessor is consistently scoring to the NZ BCS system.

The assessor programme is seeking to ensure that the services of a certified BCS Assessor are available to all dairy farmers in all regions.

Advantages for you

  • Skill recognition
  • Certification gives quality assurance and shows that you meet strict criteria and are serious about what you do
  • Training and development
  • Commitment to on-going calibration and training keeps your skills up-to-date
  • Promotion
  • Your profile will be added to the database of Certified BCS Assessors on the DairyNZ website
  • Preferential contracting of Certified BCS Assessors where body condition scoring is required in DairyNZ development projects
  • Use of a logo that enables farmers to identify you as a Certified BCS Assessor

Advantages for your clients

Becoming an assessor brings advantages to you and your clients, which in turn will assist them in making sound animal and farm management decisions that will contribute to the sustainability and profitability of their farm.

As a Certified BCS Assessor, your clients will be confident that you:

  • Can accurately score their herd or individual cows and bring at risk cows to their attention.
  • Are a professional who provides an independent view, operates to industry standards and can be trusted with their cows

Body condition scoring is also a skill that farmers are encouraged to acquire and use throughout the year, in conjunction with assessments by a Certified BCS Assessor at key times. For information about how you can body condition score your cows see the How to BCS page and our Body Condition Scoring Made Easy booklet.

Steps to become a Certified Assessor

The use of body condition scoring as an essential management tool has gained traction over the past ten years and is now recognised by dairy farms as a key management indicator.

Expand the sections below to find out how to become an assessor and how to maintain your certified status.

Step 1: Attend a BCS training workshop

The four-hour workshop will guide you through theory and practical 'hands-on' learning of the DairyNZ Body Condition Scoring system.

The training workshop will provide participants with:

  • A good understanding of the need for and value of consistent standardised body condition scoring in the dairy industry.
  • The ability to allocate appropriate condition scores to cows of varying condition using the DairyNZ method and Field Guide.

Completion of this training is strongly recommended for those wanting to become a Certified BCS Assessor. Pre-requisites for training:

  • Applicants need to be physically able to work with dairy cattle in the field
  • and should have on-farm dairy experience in New Zealand; or
  • recent formal training in agriculture, veterinary science or farm animal care.

These training workshops are run by our Calibration Assessors. Workshops are run regionally throughout the year, there is a fee to attend these workshops (contact your local CA to confirm the cost).

Registration for these events is essential as numbers at each event are capped to ensure that attendees can make the most of the day. If you are unable to attend any scheduled events or wish to arrange an in-house training workshop for your team contact your local Calibration Assessor.

For upcoming training workshops and contact details for your local Calibration Assessor click here.


Step 2: Complete and pass a BCS assessment

The BCS Competency Assessment takes approximately 1.5 hours and aims to determine the applicant’s ability to accurately and consistently body condition score.

There are two scoring components:

  • Paddock scoring of a mob of at least 70 cows
  • Hands-on scoring of 8 individual cows in a vet race

Applicants’ scoring is compared to model standard scoring set at the start of the assessment day by two members of the Calibration Team who are tightly calibrated to DairyNZ‘s BCS reference standards.

Results from the on-farm assessment are evaluated and applicants are advised of the outcomes of their certification application.  If you pass the assessment you are a Certified BCS Assessor.  If you do not pass the assessment you are entitled to re-sit the assessment if a suitable time and venue can be arranged.  If you fail the re-sit further training is recommended before sitting another assessment.

Prior to Assessment it is strongly recommended that you complete a BCS training workshop.  This is particularly important if you are not familiar with the DairyNZ BCS Standard.

These assessments are run by the DairyNZ AHES (internal members of the Calibration Team).

Assessment days are run regionally throughout the country in Autumn and Spring, to register for an upcoming event click here.

The fee for assessment is $250 (excl GST).

Step 3: Maintain your certified status annually

To maintain your Certified BCS Assessor Status you need to attend a calibration event within 12 months of your prior assessment/calibration.

A calibration event is attendance based (opposed to pass/fail), it will take approximately 2 hours and will consist of:

  • a hands-on component and
  • a paddock scoring component
  • discussion around the process of body conditions scoring
  • participants will submit their average herd scores for the paddock scoring component to the Calibration Assessor and if there is evidence of drift participants will need to repeat the paddock scoring component
  • a report comparing participant scores to model scores will be sent within 2 weeks of the calibration event.

These calibration events are run by our Calibration Assessors. Events are run regionally throughout the year and there is a fee to attend. Contact your local Calibration Assessor to confirm the cost.

Feedback process

The Body Condition Score Assessor Certification Programme is committed to ensuring Certified BCS Assessors maintain a high standard of professional conduct. 

Certified BCS Assessors are required to attend an annual on-farm calibration event to check they remain calibrated to the DairyNZ national BCS reference standards. The DairyNZ national BCS reference standards are contained in the DairyNZ publication Body Condition Scoring Made Easy.

Where body condition scoring is required for contractual purposes (eg. grazing contract, contract milking, sale and purchase of animals) it is recommended both parties agree to the use of a specified Certified BCS Assessor, or each party engages a Certified BCS Assessor to score simultaneously and the contract includes a process to address any differences in assessed BCS values.Farmers are encouraged to resolve any complaints directly with the Certified BCS Assessor and their company of employment, or through any professional body to which the Certified BCS Assessor belongs.

However, complaints about the conduct of a Certified BCS Assessor may be made through the Programme. Complaints must be made using the Complaint Form and sent to the BCS Assessor Certification Programme Manager. Please review the summary Complaints Procedure and explanatory notes before lodging a complaint.

Addressing complaints relating to assessed Body Condition Scores through independent re-scoring is not provided for within the Body Condition Score Assessor Certification Programme. The extent of censure under the Programme complaints procedure is limited to requirements for a Certified Assessor to be re-assessed, undertake further training, or the termination of Certified Assessor status.

Last updated: Aug 2023

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