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Title: BODY CONDITION SCORING (BCS) COWS

Author
item Neel, James - Jim

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2005
Publication Date: 3/22/2005
Citation: Neel, J.P. 2005. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) Cows. Appalachian Grazing Conference "Foraging for Profits", Lakeview Resort, Morgantown, WV, March 22-24, 2005, CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Body condition scoring of cows is an important part of herd management which will help ensure farm profitability. Cows in proper body condition at calving will have shorter post-partum intervals, produce more milk and have healthier more vigorous calves compared to thin cows. Heifers carrying too much condition at calving have a higher incidence of distocia. Thin cows at breeding require more services to conceive, have longer calving intervals and increase the number of open cows within the herd. The easiest time to put condition on beef cows is between weaning and 50 days prior to calving, when maintenance energy requirements are at their lowest. Putting weight on cows from 50 days prior to calving through the breeding season is extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible. The most accepted scale for scoring beef cows is from 1 to 9 and ranges descriptively from emaciated to extremely fat. Dairy cows are usually scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Beef cow body condition score (BCS) should be 6 at calving and 5 at breeding. Heifers should be 6.5 at calving. Dairy cows should be 3+ to 4- at calving, 3- to 3 during early lactation, 3 during mid- and late-lactation and 3+ to 4- during the dry period. For beef cows, one change in BCS is approximately 60 to 80 lb depending on frame size and individual animals. Each pound of gain requires about 2.8 Mcal NEg and often times, the ability to put on “flesh” is limited by dry matter intake, especially when maintenance requirements are high. During the presentation, cows in various body conditions will be evaluated, simple scoring guidelines will be discussed and several nutritional scenarios will be presented.