Body Condition Scoring in Spring

There are several points in the year that are a good time to re-evaluate beef cattle body condition scores. Ideally, body condition is evaluated on a monthly basis as it is a road map to ensuring your cattle have the nutrition they need. For spring calving herds, evaluating body condition now, prior to calving helps you plan for feeding the herd when they are at peak production shortly after calving.

Beef cattle are generally evaluated on a nine-point scoring system. The major areas of evaluation for fat cover include the spine, ribs, hook and pin bones, brisket fill, and presence of tailhead fat. An animal with a score of 1 is emaciated with prominent bone structure (obviously we want to avoid this), an animal score of 5 having moderate fleshing while still being able to see the last two ribs, and an animal scoring 9 being excessively fat with no bone structure visible.  

Beef cows maintaining a body condition score of at least 5 throughout gestation tend to recover condition faster after calving, breed back quicker, and have higher pregnancy rates which leads to an earlier calving the following year. This usually results in a heavier calf at weaning.  

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