Knowing how to evaluate body condition is crucial...
We cannot insist enough on this point since it is directly linked to the reproductive performance of your herd (Table below). It is worth that even if the scale used to measure fleshing varies from 1 to 9 in the USA and from 1 to 5 in Canada, the principle remains the same: a “1” rating represents an animal of extreme thinness (0.5% of body fat), while the opposite rating (“5” or “9”) is used to describe a highly obese animal (35% of body fat). The desirable rating at the time of calving is therefore “3” on the Canadian scale or “6” on the US scale. For heifers, it is even desirable to aim for a “3.5” (Can.) or “7” (USA).
|Cow in good body condition: ribs are not visible, some pressure must be applied to feel the spine, hips and pins, and there is some fat around the tail head and brisket.
Be careful not to exceed these limits! Cows that are too fat are
expensive to feed, have more calving problems and are less fertile. The
ideal time to evaluate the body condition of your cows is two to three
months before calving, which leaves you more than enough time to adjust
the diet of the females that are either too thin or too fat.
|Effect of body condition on performance and income
|1st heat interval
|Source : Rick Funston, University of Nebraska, 2006.