Body condition score for beef cattle

It is generally accepted that there is a strong link between the body condition of an animal and its health, productivity and reproductive performance. Using a numeric score to estimate the amount of muscle and fat covering the bones, body condition scoring is a useful, easy-to-use management tool to determine the nutritional needs of beef cattle.

The following photographs and descriptions explain the standard 1-5 body condition score (BCS) system for beef cattle.

Body condition score 1 – Poor

A very low level of musculature, and no evidence of any fat. Skeletal structure is very pronounced.

Body condition score 2 – Backward

Backbone, shoulder bones and hips are visible. Tail head is slightly recessed. Ribs faintly visible.

Body condition score 3 - Moderate

Hip bones are faintly visible, ribs are usually not visible. Tail head is not recessed. Body outline is almost smooth.

Body condition score 4 - Forward

Ribs are well covered and hip bones are not visible. Tail head is slightly bumpy. The overall body shape is rounded.

Body condition score 5 - Fat

Hip bones show fat deposits. Tail head has large lumps of fat. Rib bones are very well covered. Overall shape is bulging due to fatness.

Photos: Jo Miller, formerly Queensland Government.

Managing breeder condition: body condition score

In this presentation, Bernie English (Senior Beef Extension Officer, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mareeba) outlines the importance of breeder condition, body condition score, breeder management and how condition can be managed to maximise production from your breeding herd. 11:17 minutes published 2 April 2012 by FutureBeefAu.