Body condition score is one of the most important factors dairy farmers should consider in the upcoming weeks, according to Teagasc’s Mark Trimble.

According to the Kilkenny-based dairy advisor, the main objective on farm should be to get cows in the correct body condition score for calving in the spring of 2016.

Speaking at a recent Teagasc/Glanbia Monitor Farm open day on the farm of Pat Dillon in Cuffsgrange Co. Kilkenny on Friday, October 2, he said that there is a temptation out there from farmers to milk a little longer this year.

There may be a temptation there to milk on a little bit longer to help with cash flow, but farmers should aim to have their cows in the right body condition score at calving.

According to Trimble, this can only be achieved if farmers start to monitor the body condition of their cows now.

This is important, he said, as having cows in the correct body condition score could be the difference in 450L of milk production, this figure may seem small from one cow, but when the whole herd is considered it adds up.

Body condition scoring of cows now will also allow farms to improve the fertility performance of their herd next spring, said Trimble.

“The condition score at first service is also critical, cows that are in poor condition (<2.5) during this period have a lower submission rate of 58%.

“This increases to 72% when the condition score is improved to 2.75, and there is only a slight increase of 1% for cows with a condition score above 3,” said Trimble.

The body condition score at breeding will also have an impact on the 42-day pregnancy rate, he said.

Cows with a score below 2.5 with have a 50% pregnancy rate, cows scoring 2.75 have a 57% rate while cows with a BCS over 3 have a 66% pregnancy rate.

Target body condition scores
  • Cows should be a body condition score of 3-3.25 at drying off
  • Pre-calving – these animals should have  score of 3.25
  • Cows should also have a score of 3 at calving