CONDITION SCORING- 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 fat or thin the cow is. In Australia a 1 to 8 scoring system is used.

Assessing your herds body condition profile gives a good measure of your cows’ body energy 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
  • 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 and a 5 point scale is used for beef 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.

Dairy Australia has developed several tools to assist with assessing your herd’s body condition profile. This includes a downloadable pdf booklet with tips on body condition scoring and diagrams as well as a smartphone ap

Condition Score Dairy Cattle                  

Condition Score Beef Cattle