Journal of Dairy Research

Research Article

Comparison of two methods of assessing dairy cow body condition score

Jeffrey M Bewleya1 p1 c1, Robert E Boycea2, David J Robertsa3, Michael P Coffeya4 and Michael M Schutza1

a1 Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, 125 South Russell Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907

a2 IceRobotics Ltd., Logan Building, Roslin BioCentre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9TT, Scotland, UK

a3 Sustainable Livestock Systems Group, Scottish Agricultural College, Crichton Royal Farm, Dairy Services Unit, Midpark House, Bankend Road, Dumfries, DG1 4SZ, Scotland, UK

a4 Sustainable Livestock Systems Group, Scottish Agricultural College, Sir Steven Watson Building, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0PH, Scotland, UK


Two body condition scoring systems were compared for assessing body condition of cows at the Scottish Agricultural College's Crichton Royal Farm. The weekly body condition scores (BCS) were collected for a period of 12 weeks (5 September–21 November). Scores were obtained using the primary systems utilized within the UK and USA. The USBCS were obtained by the same evaluator each week, while the UKBCS were obtained by two different evaluators alternating between weeks. Paired scores (n=2088) between the two systems within week were moderately correlated (r=0·75, P<0·0001). Regression equations to convert scores between the two systems were created using the GLM procedure of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary NC, USA). The simple GLM models to convert from UK to US scores and US to UK scores were USBCS=1·182+0·816 * UKBCS (R2=0·56) and UKBCS=0·131+0·681 (R2=0·56), respectively. These equations may be used to interpret scores within the literature obtained using these two BCS systems, although they must be used with caution.

(Received October 22 2008)

(Accepted August 25 2009)

(Online publication November 18 2009)


c1 For correspondence; e-mail:

p1 Present address: Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546, USA