Body Condition Scoring of Beef Cattle

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Jordan Thomas
Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences
Eric Bailey
Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences

Body condition scoring (BCS) of cattle allows producers to assess the fat reserves of cows during various production phases. When evaluated at key production time points, this information can be used in management and feeding decisions. The aim of BCS is to obtain a simple and reliable measure of the level of body fat reserves in live animals. Though live weight gives an indication of body size, it can be markedly affected by gut fill and stage of pregnancy. Careful training of scorers and periodic standardization have shown BCS to be accurate and useful on a within-herd basis.

Cow-calf producers can use BCS so feeding and management can be regulated in order to ensure that breeding cattle are in appropriate condition at different stages of their production cycle. Action can then be taken to alter the condition of those cows that are not in the correct condition at critical stages. Scoring can be carried out easily in circumstances where weighing may be impossible or impractical. The technique is easily learned and is most useful when practiced regularly by the same person in the same herd over several years.