Body Condition Scoring in Farm Animals

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Introduction. Adequate feeding levels of a highly nutritional diet are vital for optimal animal performance and well-being.Farm-to-farm variations make it difficult to recommend standard feed levels:Animal genetics? Nutritional programs, Facilities? Environmental conditionsManagement practices.

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Body Condition Scoring in Farm Animals

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1. Body Condition Scoring in Farm Animals Dr. Gary Parker Dr. Richard Coffey Introduction to Animal and Food Sciences In-Service

2. Introduction Adequate feeding levels of a highly nutritional diet are vital for optimal animal performance and well-being. Farm-to-farm variations make it difficult to recommend standard feed levels: Animal genetics ? Nutritional programs, Facilities ? Environmental conditions Management practices

3. Introduction Body condition scoring is a tool producers can use to: Assess nutritional and health status of animals. Evaluate an animal’s body fat in relationship to the amount of muscle it possesses. Alter feeding and management practices to better meet the animal’s needs.

4. What is Body Condition Scoring? Like people, animals can have differences in body condition. Body condition scoring provides a subjective means of evaluating an animal’s fat reserves. Usually quite accurate when performed by a trained evaluator.

5. What is Body Condition Scoring? Body condition scoring involves: Visually examining and (or) palpating certain areas of the animal’s body, and Assigning a numerical score to the animal that represents its body condition score. Range of body condition scores: Beef cattle and horses – 1 to 9 Dairy cattle, sheep, and swine – 1 to 5 (the lower the number, the thinner the animal)

6. Introduction

7. Introduction

8. Priority of Nutrients in the Body

9. How to Body Condition Score When examining an animal to determine body condition score, evaluate the amount of muscle, skeletal features, and fat cover in several important anatomical areas:

10. How to Body Condition Score Perform a consistent, methodical evaluation: Evaluate each animal the same way. Evaluate from the front to the rear using the important anatomical points. Examine the animal while it is both standing and walking. Evaluate from several angles (front, side, rear). If palpations are used, only use those areas where fat is the only tissue between the skin and bone (ribs, back, hip, and pin bones).

11. How to Body Condition Score (Palpation Areas)

12. How to Body Condition Score (Palpation Areas)

13. How to Body Condition Score Factors that can cause inaccurate evaluations of an animal’s body condition score: Gut fill (including stage of pregnancy). Amount of hair or wool. Amount of muscle.

14. How to Body Condition Score Gut Fill (including stage of pregnancy): Large amounts of feed and water intake may make animals appear fatter. Animals that have been fasted may appear thinner. Animals in late gestation may appear fatter.

15. How to Body Condition Score Amount of Hair or Wool: Thick hide, large amounts of hair, or large amounts of wool can make it difficult to visually appraise an animal’s body condition. Manual palpations should be used in these instances to get a true picture of an animal’s body condition.

16. How to Body Condition Score Amount of Muscle: Heavily-muscled animals may appear more round and smooth, not to be mistaken for smoothness due to fat. Light-muscled animals can be mistaken as too thin. Degree of muscling best evaluated through the center portion of the rump. Bulge and flair = heavy muscle Angular, flat shape = light muscle

17. When to Body Condition Score The most critical times to body condition score animals during the production cycle include: Pre-breeding Mid-gestation Post-parturition Weaning

18. When to Body Condition Score Pre-breeding Condition Scores: Females that are too thin (poor condition) prior to breeding may: Have difficulty conceiving (lower pregnancy rates). Reduced number of offspring in species that give birth to multiple offspring (swine, sheep, goats). Longer postpartum intervals. Overly conditioned females may have reduced conception rates.

19. When to Body Condition Score Mid-gestation Condition Scores: During gestation females must consume enough feed to support fetal growth and build up body reserves to support lactation. Animals too thin at mid-gestation may: Give birth to small, weak offspring Have reduced milk production during lactation Lose too much body condition during lactation Increased interval between birth events Overly conditioned females may have reduced lactation intakes.

20. When to Body Condition Score Post-parturition Condition Scores: Females in poor condition after parturition may: Have reduced milk production during lactation Wean light weight offspring Have increased weaning-to-estrus intervals Fail to return to estrus Have reduced conception rates Overly conditioned females may consume less feed during lactation.

21. When to Body Condition Score Weaning Condition Scores: Females often draw upon body reserves during lactation to produce milk. Often results in loss of body condition Females in poor condition at weaning may: Have prolonged weaning-to-estrus intervals Fail to return to estrus Have reduced conception rates

22. Example Body Condition Scores

23. Body Condition Scores – Beef Cows

24. Body Condition Scores – Dairy Cows

25. Body Condition Scores – Horses

26. Body Condition Scores – Sows

27. Body Condition Scores – Sheep/Goats

28. Summary Evaluating body condition score is an effective way to: Monitor an animal’s health and nutritional status as they move from one production stage to another. Make changes to feeding and management strategies to ensure an animal’s needs are met. With practice, you can become quite proficient at body condition scoring animals

29. THE END Any questions?

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