Herd Body Condition


Type: PDF
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Knowing the average herd body condition score and the proportion of cows that are too thin and too fat is highly valuable when making herd nutritional management decisions.


Assessing a herd’s body condition and using results

What is the problem?

Monitoring the herd is vital in managing the herd efficiently.

That is why this paper entailed Dairy Australia’s different types of acquiring the body condition score of the herd to assist farmers for effective herd handling that will result in adequate profitability and productivity.

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. In Australia, an 8 point scale is most commonly used for dairy cattle – 1 is extremely thin and 8 is extremely fat.

For seasonal / split calving herds, the easiest way to record body condition scores and interpret results is with Dairy
Australia’s cow body condition scoring smartphone app.

What did the research involve?

It included Dairy Australia’s three different types of recording and getting results for the herd’s body condition score and what are the desired targets to be attained.

What were the key findings?

  • the purpose of cow body assessment score is to calculate the energy and protein of the cows reserved amid their critical lactation cycle. It also informs the user about the prior feeding level, future productivity, and its feed requirements. Furthermore, it entails effective planning of nutritional management because it determines the overly thin and fat ones, as these cows are likely to have reduced reproductive performance and milk production, and increased risk to their health and welfare.
  • through the upgraded technology of Dairy Australia’s cow body condition scoring smartphone application, recording body condition scores and interpreting results for seasonal or split calving herd can be easily done.
  • however, farmers can alternatively use a Dairy Australia recording sheet.
  • nevertheless, Dairy Australia also provided a cow body condition scoring handbook to help farmers be guided in effective monitoring and managing a herd’s body condition.
  • by visiting their official website, these three varied ways of recording herd’s body condition can be attained through download or order the handbook.
  • meanwhile, the required body condition targets are:
    • at calving: Less than 15% of cows below score 4.5 and less than 15% of cows above score 5.5
    • at mating: Less than 0.6 decreases in an average score of the herd since calving; less than 15% of cows lose more than one score since calving; and maintain or gain body condition from the start of mating
    • at drying-off: Cows in desired condition score at calving and maintain or gain body condition during the dry period

Final comment

The farmers can effectively choose the type scoring they prefer or they can be accessed with. On the other hand, if a herd’s BCS results amid the lactation cycle outlie to the required targets, an immediate response, and action to improve this is essentially required. It is also necessary to remember these actions to prevent the same problem occurring again next season or year.

2015 - Australia - DairyAustralia
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