Body condition score for sheep and goats

Body condition score (BCS) has been shown to be an important practical tool in assessing the body condition of cattle, sheep, and goats because BCS is the best simple indicator of available fat reserves which can be used by the animal in periods of high energy demand, stress, or suboptimal nutrition. Scoring is performed in goats and sheep using a BCS ranging from 1.0 to 5.0, with 0.5 increments. A BCS of 1.0 is an extremely thin goat with no fat reserves and a BCS of 5.0 is a very over-conditioned (obese) goat. In most cases, healthy goats should have a BCS of 2.5 to 4.0. BCS of 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0 indicate a management or health problem.

Why is Body Condition Scoring Important in Sheep and Goats?

  • BCS can alert you to individual animal or flock-level health problems.
  • The BCS of your flock can tell you quickly and easily whether the nutritional needs of your sheep are being met.
  • BCS can provide you with an indicator of potential reproductive success. Ewes that are thin are less likely to breed or produce twins successfully. Excessively fat ewes are less likely to give birth to twins and are more likely to suffer from pregnancy toxemia
  • Condition scoring is a quick and easy low cost management tool to increase ewe productivity and flock profitability. It is a way of comparing sheep: Independent of live weight, frame size, breed, stage of gestation, gut fill. BCS is valuable as it relates to the production ability of sheep regardless of body weight

How to Body Condition Score Sheep and Goats

  • Feel for the spine in the centre of the sheep’s back, behind its last rib and in front of it’s hip bone.
  • Feel for the tips of the transverse processes.
  • Feel for fullness of muscle and fat cover.

Body Condition Scores Description

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image1: showing the BCS areas look at

Body condition Score number Picture/Illustartion Description
1.0 WHOLE BODY

  • Emaciated
  • Boney processes can be easily felt SPINE
  • Dorsal spinous processes are sharp and prominent
  • Easily felt through skin

LOIN

  • No fat cover
  • Loin muscles very shallow

TRANSVERSE PROCESSES

  • Transverse processes sharp
  • Easy to pass fingers underneath them
2.0 WHOLE BODY

  • Thin
  • More diffi cult to feel between each process

SPINE

  • Dorsal spinous processes still prominent, but not as sharp

LOIN

  • Loin eye muscle fuller
  • Virtually no fat cover

TRANSVERSE PROCESSES

  • Transverse processes rounder on edges
  • Slight pressure needed to push underneath them
3.0 WHOLE BODY

  • Average

SPINE

  • Spinous processes smoother and less prominent
  • Some pressure required to feel between them

LOIN

  • Loin muscle full, some fat cover

TRANSVERSE PROCESSES

  • Transverse processes smooth
  • Firm pressure needed to push fi ngers under edge
4.0 WHOLE BODY

  • Fat
  • Fat accumulations over tail head

SPINE

  • Considerable pressure needed to feel dorsal spinous processes

LOIN

  • Loin eye muscle full with discernible fat cover

TRANSVERSE PROCESSES

  • Transverse processes can’t be felt
5.0 WHOLE BODY

  • Obese
  • Fat pad over tail head

SPINE

  • Dorsal spinous processes can’t be felt
  • Depression often present where they would normally be felt

LOIN

  • Loin eye muscle very full
  • Thick covering of fat

TRANSVERSE PROCESSES

  • Transverse processes can’t be felt

 

Refferences