Quick guide to body condition scoring


Source: proAction

Body Condition Score (BCS) is a tool for determining if an animal is too thin, too fat or in ideal condition. BCS charts range from 1 (emaciated) to 5 (fat).


  • Assess body condition of the animal to determine if the animal is:
    • Too thin or requires corrective action (BCS ≤ 2)
    • Acceptable (BCS >2)
  • Two resources:
    • BCS Flowchart in Figure 1. The grey cells highlight the parameter that has changed between scores
    • Body Condition Scoring Chart in Figure 2

Figure 1: BCS Flowchart

Source: Vasseur E., J. Gibbons, J. Rushen, A. M. de Passillé, 2014. Development and implementation of a training program to ensure high repeatability of body condition score of dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 96:4725-4737.

Figure 2: Body Condition Scoring Chart – only showing Scores 2 and 3

Note: for a description of all 5 Body Condition Scores, please refer to Appendix E of the Code of Practice or to Appendix I of the Animal Care Reference Manual.

Source: excerpt from Appendix E of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, 2009