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Beginner’s Guide to Body Condition Scoring. A Tool for Dairy Herd Management Web Presentation Updated July, 2004. Using body condition scoring to fine tune herd nutrition and health management has become a widely accepted practice. This presentation is designed to

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beginner s guide to body condition scoring

Beginner’s Guide to Body Condition Scoring

A Tool for Dairy Herd Management

Web Presentation

Updated July, 2004

slide2
Using body condition scoring to fine tune herd nutrition and health management has become a widely accepted practice.
  • This presentation is designed to
    • Introduce you to body condition scoring
    • Provide examples of cows scored 1 to 5
evaluating body condition vs type
Evaluating Body Condition vs. Type
  • Type evaluation (classification, judging) compares animals to the “ideal” conformation
  • Body condition scoring considers the relative fatness or thinness of animals
goals of body condition scoring
Goals of Body Condition Scoring
  • Early detection of potential health problems
  • Identify areas for improved feeding management
  • Improve herd health, production, reproduction, profitability
body condition scoring
Body Condition Scoring
  • Visual and tactile evaluation of body fat reserves
  • Indication of energy balance
  • Scale of 1 to 5, increments of 0.25
  • Body Condition Score = BCS
    • BCS 1 = emaciated cow (too thin)
    • BCS 3 = average body condition
    • BCS 5 = excessively fat cow
areas to evaluate
Areas to Evaluate
  • Rump / Pelvic Area
    • Tailhead
    • Hooks
    • Pins
    • Thurl
  • Loin
    • Short ribs
    • Spine
side view
Rear ViewSide View

Short Ribs

Hooks

Pins

Sacral Ligament

Thurl

Hooks

Tailhead Ligament

Thurl

Pins

slide8
(Spinous Process)

If an animal is grossly fat, the bone structure cannot be seen or felt through the fat. In thin animals, the bone structures are very prominent.

(Short Ribs)

step by step process
Step-by-Step Process
  • See “Learn to Score Body Condition” presentation on the dairy nutrition website
  • Not a perfect science
    • Scores should be similar ( 0.25)
      • When measured on one animal or
      • When measured by different people
    • Separates average condition from extremes
slide10
Extremely Fat

Extremely Thin

slide11
Examples of ScoresPresented to help you see the major differences – for a more detailed system of scoring, see “Learn to Score Body Condition”
slide12
BCS 1: Severely Under-conditioned
  • Side view
    • Bones of tailhead easy to see
    • Prominent backbone
    • Tips of short ribs are

clearly visible

    • Hooks, thurl, and pins

very prominent

Photo Not Available

slide13
BCS 1

Rear view

  • All boney prominences easily visible
  • Hooks, pins, spine, & ribs very sharp
  • Deep cavities around tailhead
  • Thin legs, poor muscle condition

Photo Not Available

slide14
BCS 2: Severe Negative Energy Balance
  • Tailhead prominent, limited skin cover
  • Prominent backbone
  • Limited skin cover on short ribs. From tip to spine, short ribs are visible ¾ of the distance
  • Angular hooks and pins with prominent thurl
slide15
BCS 2
  • Hooks, pins, & thurl prominent
  • Tailhead area somewhat hollow, but has modest covering of flesh
slide16
BCS 2.75: Slightly Thin
  • Visible backbone
  • Tip of short ribs smooth, but visible
  • Hooks angular, but pins padded by fat
  • V-angle formed between hooks, thurl, and pins
slide17
BCS 2.75
  • Hooks angular, but pins more rounded or padded with fat
  • Hollow below tailhead compared to a BCS 3
slide18
BCS 3: Good Condition
  • More flesh covering backbone
  • Tip of short ribs smooth
  • Hooks and pins rounded and smooth
  • V-angle formed between hooks, thurl, and pins
slide19
BCS 3
  • Hooks and pins rounded
  • No deep depressions or fat deposits around tailhead
slide20
BCS 3.25: Slightly Fleshy
  • More flesh covering backbone
  • Tip of short ribs very smooth
  • Hooks and pins more rounded and smooth
  • U-angle formed between hooks, thurl, and pins
slide21
BCS 3.25
  • Rounded hooks & pins
  • Sacral and tailhead ligaments visible
slide22
BCS 4: Over-conditioned
  • Backbone barely visible
  • Short ribs very smooth, tips barely visible
  • Hooks and pins very smooth, but visible
  • Flat between hooks and pins
slide23
BCS 4
  • Hooks & pins rounded, but visible
  • Rump and thurl flat
  • Sacral and tailhead ligaments not visible
slide24
BCS 5: Severely Over-conditioned
  • Backbone not visible
  • Short ribs flat, bones not visible
  • Hooks and pins not visible
  • Flat over rump and tailhead
slide25
BCS 5
  • All boney prominences rounded and covered in fat
  • Tailhead buried in fat
  • Fat deposits readily seen on rump and legs
summary
Summary
  • The body condition scoring scale
    • Under-conditioned cows = BCS 1
    • Over-conditioned cows = BCS 5
  • Determining a cow's BCS
    • Look at pelvic area and loin
    • Fat deposits become evident  cow is over conditioned
    • Bone structures become prominent  cow is thin
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