Cattle body condition scores (BCS) uses a 9-point scale to describe the relative fatness of a cow. It is an effective management tool to evaluate nutritional and health status of your herd. To access a cow’s body condition score, producers can use a number system to objectively describe the cow’s condition and fat reserves through a visually assessment. BCS provides for an alternative to evaluate a herd’s health without weighing and measuring the animals directly and is closely related to reproductive efficiency and is often a more reliable indicator of nutritional status than only body weight.
How to calculate cattle body condition score
The following are key areas for evaluation for beef cows: backbone, ribs, hips, pin bones (pins), tailhead, and brisket.
The following is a description of the 1 to 9 body condition scoring system where a BCS 1 cow is extremely thin and emaciated and a BCS 9 cow is very fat and obese. Assign a cow a condition score in whole numbers (3, 4, 5, etc.).
Cow Body Condition Scoring Table
Visual description of key body locations for each body condition score:
(1) Muscles of loin, rump, and hindquarter are concave, indicating loss of muscle tissue. Adapted from Pruit and Momont, South Dakota State University, 1988
Other Cattle Resources:
- Free Cow Gestation Calculator
- Cattle Gestation Table
- Free Downloadable 74 page Cattle Record Keeping Book
- Beginners Guide to Buying Cattle
- Guide to Keeping Livestock Records
- Estimating Cattle Hay and Feed Needs
- Top Breeds of Cattle for your Ranch