Management of feeding and having cows at the correct body condition score leading up to calving is important to reduce instances of difficult calvings and give the cow the best chance of going back in-calf in a timely manner.

Body Condition Scoring estimates the covering of flesh on an animal’s frame ranging from 0 (very thin) to 5 (very fat), by body conditioning scoring we can tailor the feeding of cows at each production stage to maximise performance of the animal and also reduce cost in some cases.

Cows that are too thin may not have sufficient energy or strength for calving and the subsequent calf may lack in strength and vigour, these cows will also tend to take longer to resume cycling and be more difficult to get back in-calf.

Cows that are over-fat have increased risk of difficult calvings due to fat deposits in the birth canal and reducing the size of the pelvic canal.

Autumn Calving

The breeding season for Autumn calving cows will typically be aligned with when cows are housed and move from a grass based diet to a conserved forage diet, it is hence important that we limit loss of body condition, With Autumn calving cows we want them at a slightly higher BCS at calving counter any potential loss of condition once indoors.

Management of Autumn calving cows in most cases differs from Spring calving sucklers in that they are typically grazing pasture as opposed to eating silage or hay in the lead up to calving, as a result cows are more likely to become overfat rather than being too thin.  Methods to avoid cows becoming overfat include, delaying weaning or restricting access to forage, holding on bare pasture or feeding hay.

Target BCS Autumn Calving Cows

How to Body Condition Score?

Body Condition Scoring requires both handling and visually assessment.  Cows will need to be run through a crush or race, from here we are then trying to estimate the level of fat cover on 3 different points of the animal:

  1. Ribs

Use a flat hand to feel the level of fat cover over the ribs

2. Loin

Using the hand assess level of fat and pressure needed if any to locate the bony projections of the short ribs

3. Tail Head:

Using your fingers assess the level of fat in and around the tail head and check for the prominence of the pin bones


For further advice on any of the above, please contact a member of the Moocall team to speak to some of our breeding specialists on +353 1 96 96 038 or email