A body condition score in cattle is a reflection of how well the animal is doing or to see if the animal has been meeting her nutritional requirements. Checking a cows body condition score is a crucial part of farming. Farmers must provide that adequate nutrition to their cow herd. If a cow is not getting her required nutrients then a farmer can’t expect her to produce top quality calves, come in heat or go back in calf.
Body condition scoring is looking into a cow fuel tank to see how much energy reserve and condition she has. The condition of the cow effects the fundamentals of a cow for the year.
Farmers should score individual cows from 1 to 9, with 1 being thin and 9 being over-conditioned. Farmers should aim for a 5 or 6 at the time of calving this is to achieve timely rebreeding of the cow after calving. Now is a good time for farmers to check condition of cows in production season, when cows are either bred for spring calving or have fall calves by side. If they are scored now it allows the proper management to be put in place through the remainder of the year.
It’s difficult for farmers to identify changes in condition happening throughout the cows, especially if they see the cows every day. Farmers should write down the score of their cows every second month through grazing season as they should see changes through this period of time. Writing down the score of a cows condition is important along with the date, as it helps keep track of any changes over time. Farmers don't need to score all of the herd every month, if 50% are scored it should give you an indication of the herds condition. Pick different cows each time you score them this way you’ll have scored them all throughout the year.
The main time stop score are 90 days prior to calving and the start of the breeding season. These key times are when the cows nutritional changes occur as they are on different diets before and after calving. Around 90 days prior to calving is usually when a cow needs more energy to meet the increased demands for her unborn calf. At calving lactation and the birth its self will require an additional increase in energy. Another good time to score is weaning so there is time to change the cows condition prior to calving.
Scoring at these various points throughout the year can help farmers evaluate the effectiveness of their pre-breeding and pre-calving nutrition programs.
If cows are lower than a target score of 5 at calving, they will generally have a longer than normal they will take more time to rebreed, which will mean the next calf will be younger and lighter when it is weaned. Managing body condition is one of the things farmers can use to maintain or even shorten the rebreeding period.
A 2-year-old cow needs to have a little better body condition. A cow at this age is lactating, growing, still trying to maintain her body condition. It can often happen that her typical feed resources might come a little shy of what she needs. At this age they typically lose a little condition as their lactating.