Body Condition Scoring System

Author: Deborah Piette (KUL) - Date: July 10, 2018

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a numeric scoring system for body fat energy reserves in a cow and is a good indicator for the nutritional status of a cow. Traditionally, cows are evaluated manually based on observation of bones and fat visibility. Nowadays, BCS can be measured automatically.

In the Hooibeekhoeve, a research and demonstration farm in Antwerp, Belgium, a BCS camera from DeLaval is installed at the exit of the milking robot. The camera captures the lower back of the cows and sends their individual daily scores to a computer. A specialized software monitors the scores of each cow and compares it to their desired optimal range. When a cow has a score that is too low or too high, their feed can be adjusted accordingly to optimize milk production and maintain cow health. When a cow is in the optimal range, it increases the pregnant expectancy to up to 90% compared to underweight or overweight cows.

“It is a continuous balancing act between the economic aspect, the ecological aspect and the health of the cows.”  Marijke van Looveren, Hooibeekhoeve.