A Body Condition Scoring Chart for Holstein Dairy Cows

A. J. Edmonson, I. J. Lean, L. D. Weaver, Thomas B Farver, G. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2082 Scopus citations


A chart for body condition scoring of freely moving Holstein dairy cows was developed using an iterative process consisting of literature review, interviews with experts, field testing, statistical analysis, and comments from chart users. The chart consists of text and diagrams that detail changes in conformation with body condition change for eight body locations identified as important in body condition scoring. The precision with which a prototype chart was used to give location specific condition scores to cows was examined, and the variability among the assessors described. This chart gave consistent results with small variability among assessors, no significant difference attributable to experience of assessors, and no significant cow assessor interaction. Minor modifications were made to the chart, which was then used to assess location specific and overall body condition scores. Assessors scored cows in the eight body locations and rescored the cows in a different order to assign an overall score. The chart produced consistent scores over a wide range of body conditions with small variance among assessors. The overall score was most closely related to the condition scores of the pelvic and tailhead areas of the cow. Both location specific scores within cows and the overall body score for a cow were strongly correlated, demonstrating that the chart was internally consistent. The chart is an effective field tool for body condition scoring Holstein cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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