Video: Step-by-step guide to Body Condition Score your cows

Body Condition Score (BCS) is a widely used management tool on Irish farms.

However, there can often be inconsistencies in BCS measurements.

This video, from Penn State, will provide an easy-to-follow guide on getting it right.

The video, narrated by Coleen Jones, outlines a repeatable, step-by-step process to follow when body condition scoring your herd.

Throughout the presentation clear examples of each score are given. There are also some very useful workable examples included in the piece.

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned operator this tutorial provides many useful pointers and tips to hone your skills when it comes to Body Condition Scoring your cows.


BCS is a body scoring system which applies a score of 1-5, 1 being very thin and 5 being overweight.

Immediately, the presentation cuts to the chase and deals with cows that are around BCS 3.0. It clearly shows how to differentiate between cows that are either above or below BCS 3.0.

In order to do this Jones focuses on the pin and hook (also known as hip) bones of the cow.

Under BCS 3.0

Once the cow has been graded as being BCS 3.0 or less, the video shows how to identify the differences between BCS 2.0 and 3.0.

Assessment of the short ribs is the main tool used to do this.

One of the major advantages of using this guide is the ease with which you can return to previous steps in the scoring process. This is pointed out in the video and should be encouraged if operator has doubt about scores.

BCS 3.25 or above

Ligaments around the spine and tail-head are used to judge where a cow ranks between BCS 3.25 and 4.0. The thurl region of the cow, between the pins and hooks, also comes into play here.

Jones makes the point that there is little use in grading animals specifically above 4.0 as all of these animals will be managed in the same way. The same holds true for cows below BCS 2.5.