Critical Time of Year to Body Condition Score Cows
Body Condition Scoring the time is now
BCS is a simple technique to assess how thin or fat a cow is on a scale of 1 to 5 with increments of 1 for extremely thin and 5 is extremely fat.
What are the key BCS targets?
1. Calve cows at an average BCS of 3.25 (range 3.0 – 3.5)
2 .Ensure all cows lose no more than 0.5 of a BCS from when they calve down until the start of breeding. Aim for an average BCS score of 3.0 (range 2.75 – 3.25) at the start of breeding (see figure 1).
What are the benefits of achieving these targets?
- Cows calving below a condition score of 3.0 tend to have reduced milk yield and be harder to get back in calf. Cows calving at a BCS greater than 3.5 are likely to experience increased levels of difficulty calving’s, milk fever, retained cleanings and to have a lower feed intake in early-lactation (knock-on effect of losing more body condition). Figure 1 highlights this.
- Feed intake lags behind milk production in early lactation creating an ‘energy gap’ and forcing cows to ‘milk of their backs’. Minimising this energy gap and BCS loss is a key component in getting cows back in calf. This is much easier to achieve if cows are calved in the correct BCS.
When should cows scored to achieve these targets?
- Late lactation (before drying off)-Cows with a low BCS (<2.75) should be dried off early and fed properly to achieve target BCS at calving. Watch out for cows with a long dry period (dried off early due to quota), these cows can easily become too fat.
- All cows dry: If there are significant differences between cows in terms of BCS, they should be separated into different groups and fed accordingly.
- Monthly intervals in early lactation to avoid excessive BCS loss in early lactation.
The next few weeks are critical in preparing for the dry period and to ensure cows are in prime body condition before calving .
We have technicians who are based around the country who can come on farm to carry out this service and will supply you with an electronic transfer before we leave the farm.
For more info contact us on 0877554200.