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We have developed a number of tools and resources to help you with your herd™s body condition profile.

Body condition scoring your cows

Measuring and managing body condition score - A key to managing your herd'™s nutrition

Body condition scoring is a visual assessment of the amount of fat and muscle covering the bones of a cow, regardless of body size. It is not affected by gut fill or pregnancy as liveweight is. It involves assessing specific locations on the cow to determine how thin or fat the cow is. In Australia a 1 to 8 scoring system is used. 

Assessing your herd'™s body condition profile provides a standardised measure of your cows'™ body energy (and protein) reserves at critical times during their lactation cycle, and tells you a lot about your herds': 

  • previous level of feeding,
  • likely future production and fertility, and
  • future feed requirement.

Effective management of body condition and nutrition improves herd reproductive performance, milk production and enhances cow health and welfare.

The 1 to 8 body condition scale

Different systems are used to body condition score dairy cattle and beef cattle. In Australia, an 8 point scale is most commonly used for dairy cattle:

  • A cow with a BCS of 1 is considered extremely thin, the result either of severe under-feeding or disease.
  • A cow with a BCS of 8 is considered extremely fat and is at risk of several metabolic diseases after calving.

Body condition scoring using this 8 point scale provides a quick, easy, consistent way to assess body condition in dairy cattle. Only cows with a BCS of 3 to 6 are shown in this booklet as healthy, productive cows in commercial dairy herds should always be within this range.

Dairy Australia has developed several tools to assist with assessing your herd'™s body condition profile.

More information

Assessing a herd's body condition and using results (PDF, 575KB)

Assessing a cow's body condition score (BCS) provides a standardised measure of cows'™ energy (and protein) reserves at critical times during their lactation cycle, and tells you a lot about a herd'™s previous level of feeding, likely future productivity, and future feed requirements. Find out how to assess a herd's body condition and use the results.

  • Copy Link Cow body conditioning scoring handbook

    Cow body condition scoring handbook

    Dairy Australia's cow body condition scoring handbook is a complete guide to monitoring and managing your herd'€™s body condition. 

    The main sections of the booklet are listed below:

    Why body condition score your herd?

    What is body condition scoring?

    Body condition targets

    How to body condition score a cow

    Get your eye in first

    When and why to score your herd

    How many cows to score

    Where to score cows

    Recording body condition scores

    Recording body condition scores

    What to do if results are off target

    Additional energy inputs needed for BCS gains

    Benefits from achieving BCS targets

    Download the full handbook (low resolution PDF version, 879kb)

    Request a hard copy of the handbook - To request a hard copy of the Dairy Australia Cow body condition scoring handbook€™ contact Dairy Australia.

     

  • Copy Link Cow body conditioning scoring mobile app

    Cow body condition scoring smartphone app

    Dairy Australia'™s cow body condition scoring app has been developed to assist farmers in understanding, monitoring and managing their herd'™s body condition.

    It has three methods of scoring, beginner, intermediate and advanced, graphical presentation of the results and the option to email your results to yourself or an advisor. It also has tips and advice for situations where your results are off target and in-built scoring reminders based on your herds stage of lactation.

    Use it to get a standardised measure of your cows™ body energy (and protein) reserves at critical times during their lactation cycle, and assess your herd™s:

    • previous level of feeding likely future production and fertility future feed requirements

    Stay in control of herd nutrition with the Dairy Australia Cow Body Condition Scoring Tool (for use on i-phones and Android phones).

    Features:

    1. Can be used for multiple farms and cow groups 
    2. Designed for use at the most important stages of the annual lactation cycle 
    3. Simple 2 step œhands off scoring method 
    4. Large graphics and photos provided for each score 
    5. Choice of 3 scoring methods to suit beginners, intermediate and advanced users 
    6. Herd results provided instantly after each scoring event, with suggested actions to consider 
    7. Ability to enter your own comments with results of each scoring event 
    8. Results summary is emailed to you and anyone else you wish for your records
    9. Automatic reminder for when next scoring event in due(optional) 
    10. Notes on key aspects of body condition scoring

    To download:

    If you use an iPhone: 

    Go to the app on iTunes to download. 

    If you use an Android phone: 

    Download the app on Google Play (search using ˜Dairy Australia).

  • Copy Link Cow body conditioning scoring sheets

    Cow body condition recording scoring sheets

    If you are a dairy farmer using a seasonal, split or year-round calving system who wants to take greater control of your herd'€™s nutrition, then here is a recording sheet to help you.

    Use it to get a standardised measure of your cows€™ body energy (and protein) reserves at critical times during their lactation cycle, and assess your herd'€™s:  

    • previous level of feeding      
    • likely future production and fertility      
    • future feed requirements

    This recording sheet is an easy to use, paper based aid for measuring and managing body condition score.

    Scoring the same cows each time you score is not necessary, so each cow is recorded simply with a mark. By recording condition scores on the recording sheet as shown in this example, you create your own graph as you go, showing the distribution of scores in your herd.

    If you wish to record the ID number of each cow when you condition score, another version of the recording sheet is available.

    Stay in control of herd nutrition with the Dairy Australia Cow Body Condition Recording Sheet.

    More information

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