Utilizing body condition scoring (BCS) is one economical way to evaluate the nutritional supplementation of your beef cattle herd, according to an article from UF/IFAS. BCS is a visual evaluation of the fat or excess poundage a cow is carrying, and is not simply the weight of the animal. The higher the BCS, the higher the nutritional content of your beef cattle herd, showing that their nutritional supplementation is adequate.

The advantages of using BCS are many. For one, it’s the most cost-effective herd management tool that can be used, and it can be used by anyone. It simply takes time to properly evaluate the BCS of a beef cattle herd.

The BCS is determined by looking at six different spots on cattle. These areas should be evaluated for the amount of flesh or fat located:

  • Around the back
  • Tail head
  • Pins
  • Hooks or hips
  • Ribs
  • Brisket area

Those new to BCS assessments can start by putting cattle into a thin, moderate or fat category. From there, stepping up to the actual BCS measurement is as simple as assigning a number from 1 to 9, with 1 being the thinnest and 9 being obese. Each category has three levels, with 1-3 being thin, 4-6 being moderate and 7-9 being fat.

Keep in mind that different breeds will have different typical BCS ranges, as fat is deposited in different patterns in different breeds. Other factors that affect BCS include pregnancy, hair length and time of year. Cattle in Florida range usually from3 to 6.

BCS should change gradually, over the span of three months rather than a month and a half. BCS should be highest in mid to late summer and lowest in late winter or early spring. When a BCS loss occurs faster than 120 days or in periods other than the typical lows, it can be an indicator of trouble. Issues like low forage quality, parasites, poor mineral supplementation and more could be at play. Ranchers can start programs when they see BCS lowering, or even prior to traditional low BCS periods.

Using BCS to assess your cattle herd has been proven to have a financial impact on a cattle herd and the ranch’s returns. As BCS goes up, all the other features cattlemen are looking for increase as well: conception rate, calving rate, weaned calves weight, etc.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.