Wednesday, 29 April 2020 12:39

How to body condition score

Written by  Staff Reporters
Body condition scoring should be hands-on, according to DairyNZ. Body condition scoring should be hands-on, according to DairyNZ.

Body condition scoring (BCS) is a simple process. However, DairyNZ says it is important to calibrate the eye by first condition scoring cows “hands on” at the dairy.

When you are ready to BCS in the paddock:

• Line up 15 cows with a range of BCS

• Put your hands on the important body parts

• Feel the amount of fat cover over the various body points and the difference between the cows. Note that gut fill can give visual impression of condition over the ribs; it is, therefore, important to feel the amount of fat cover.

• Average the different areas to come up with the BCS for that cow.

What to look at when you condition score cows

• Backbone - Is it flat or is there a ridge? Can you see or easily feel notches?

Long ribs - Can you see or easily feel the ribs? If visible how many can you see?

Short ribs - Can you see the short ribs? What do they feel like? Are the rib ends sharp or rounded?

Hip bones - Are the hip bones rounded or angular?

Rump - Is the area between the pins and hip bones, flat, sunken or hollow?

Pin bones - Are they pointed, “tap” like or rounded?

Tailhead - Is there a hollow between the tail head and pin bones? Is it a deep V or shallow U shape?

Thigh - Is the area indented, flat or rounded? Is the muscle structure defined.

Handy BCS tracker app

Easily record and track cow body condition score with the BCS Tracker app.

The BCS Tracker allows you to score cows in the field on your smartphone and have ready access to the results.

It also takes the hassle out of recording BCS data on paper and then transferring it to a computer, it can now all be done electronically.


With the following features, this app is proving to be a popular tool for farmers and staff.

It allows for viewing herd scores and seeing change over time.

Multiple herds can be scored and reported on.

Cows can be flagged for a range of reasons (lame, mastitis etc) and along with their tag numbers can recorded for later reference.

The app also contains the popular BCS field guide, so there is ready access to information and images on accurate assessment.

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