Body Condition Scoring

As you know my entire vocabulary has taken the route of cows.



On Keeping A Family Cow forum, it’s often asked for someone to comment on a certain cow’s body condition. As a newbie, I’ve found all the numbers more like scoring a swimmer in the Olympics….at least there I know what a perfect 10 is.

The most common range for dairy cows goes from 1-5. And of course somewhere in the middle is best. During a cows life cycle she moves in and out of different scoring.

I found a really great article published by the University of Arkansas on The Importance of Body Condition Scoring.


Here is what I’m shooting for….a body score between 3 & 4.

I find this job hard because when looking at a pregnant cow, she’s obviously filled out and her body is getting ready for calving. But the vet said Josie looked a little heavy…..yeah, I looked a lot heavy when I was 8 months pregnant! But having been pregnant I can understand the need for good body condition….and I can say, I did not have it!

Here’s what the publication said:

“This cow is in ideal condition for most stages of lactation. The vertebra are rounded, but the backbone can still be seen. There is between a half-inch and an inch of tissue covering the short ribs. The edges of the ribs are rounded and not as sharp as the BCS 2.0 and 2.5 cows. Hook and pin bones are easily seen, but are round instead of angular. The ligaments connecting them to the backbone form clear boundaries between the forward and rear pelvic areas, but the fat covering
makes them appear smooth and round. The thurl is dished, but not to the same extent as in the thinner cows. The area on either side of the tail head is hollow, but the folds of skin are not as distinct.”
“Although many producers want their cows to be heavy at calving, research here and in England shows that fat cows lose more condition, eat less and have more post-calving problems than cows that freshen at half a condition score lower. A BCS 4 cow looks fleshy. Her back appears almost solid, like a table top. The short ribs still form a shelf, but they cannot be seen as individual bones and only felt with deep palpation. The hook and pin bones are rounded and have obvious fat padding. The area on either side of the tail


In this photo though her pin bones look a bit fatty or are they just getting rounded for calving???? I have no clue!


All I know is a face like that is a perfect 10!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: