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Body Condition Scoring


By An Peischel ©2020 (Fourth in a series)


Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is an important monitoring criteria when utilizing goats for land enhancement (restoration, re- juvenation, weed abatement, fire mitigation, etc.). Scoring will initiate herd management decisions focused on production options to improve performance (physiological status of the individuals and the mob), limit the health problems associated with improper nutrition and in- crease profits by al- lowing selective browsing/grazing based upon the quality and quantity of vegetation re- quired by the goats. All of the above total a decrease in production costs. When using


Dr. An Peischel


goats in a “working or production” situ- ation, BCS is a measure of body energy re- serves and a change in body condition will reflect a shift in energy balance. The nu- trition levels required for performance have to be matched to the nutritional require- ments of the goats to attain the desired out- come. Forage and browse resources need to be used efficiently/effectively to sustain biodiversity of successional vegetation communities. The environment, climate and topography will also affect the body con- dition of the goats as will reproductive per- formance.


When using the goats in a breeding program, BCS will be a critical monitoring tool to use as a measure for reproductive performance. A higher body condition at kidding and early lactation will increase the chances of re-cycling, increase the ovu- lation rate and conception in the early part of the breeding season with less breeding days, therefore concentrating the kidding season (advantageous to niche and direct marketing).


If adequate energy is available for mo- bilization at parturition, milk production will be higher and maintained longer. Thin does will likely be late kidders, have de- layed recycling and breeding, and an in- creased probability of abortion. Should they kid, they will have less kids, weaker kids


8 Goat Rancher | August 2020


TABLE 1. BODY CONDITION SCORE* Condition severely


Score 1


emaciated, extremely poor


extremely thin, poor


extremely thin, poor


very thin, slightly thin slightly thin 2 (thin) 3 frame visible (thin) 4 frame covered, 5 slightly fleshy slightly fleshy frame not visible, fleshy obese obese 6 7 (fat) 8 (fat) (fat)


extremely obese, 9 severely over- (fat) conditioned


and lower milk production.


Research has shown that visual ap- praisal can accurately measure body con- dition. For the most consistent results, palpating along with visual assessment will help measure the adequacy of the nutritional program by evaluating the body reserves. Goats have very little subcutaneous fat. Fat is stored in the omentum and perirenal tis- sues. Body condition will measure the lipid and protein reserves that will be available to use in late gestation, early lactation, dur- ing environmental adversity, etc. It will contribute to making decisions faster about changing a nutrition regime be- cause if one lingers, high production losses and loss of income are possible. It can be very costly to regain body status, therefore


(thin) (thin) Comments


Close to death/starvation evident; outline of ribs visible and spinal processes distinct and prominent with severe


depressions; physically weak; shoulder, loin and hindquarters atrophied in appearance; skin adhered to bone


Not as weak nor as emaciated as (1); skin in direct contact with bone; prominent ‘V’ shaped cavity under tail;r of spinef


and ribs are still visible; bony surface of thef protruding Wasting in appearance; ribs visible; individual spinal


processes evident and depressions obvious (rib, hips) and sunken between pins and hooks; sternum is prominent


Spinous processes (dorsal/transverse) are prominent and Spinous processes smooth; transverse processes have


balanced (moderate) smooth concave curve; hooks and pins smooth; muscle becoming obvious; sternum can be palpated


Spinous processes rounded; spinous to transverse processes Spinous processes rounded; spinous to transverse processes smooth cover (moderate)r


smooth cover (moderate) smooth sloped; hooks and pins covered; slight depression between hooks and pins


smooth sloped; hooks and pins covered; slight depression between hooks and pins


No spinous processes noticeable, ribs not visible, hooks and


pins rounded with some cover; flat between hooks; palpation of sternum difficult


Edge of transversef Edge of transverse processes barely noticeable, tail-head cavity filling with fat cavity filling with fat


processes barely noticeable, tail-head


Spinous processes buried in fat; between hooks and pins rounded; between hooks rounded; tail-head cavity exhibits fat filled folds


*An Peischel ©2020


avoid extreme fluctuations in body con- dition scores.


Body weight is a function of breed, body conformation, frame size and mature size, stage of gestation and stage of lacta- tion. The frame, at a point in physiological time, will remain constant but weight will change based on deposition of fat and mus- cle. Both depend on the nutritional and physiological status of the goat. Do not in- clude the fetus or associated fluids when evaluating weight changes. Be careful not to cull on BCS at weaning as there is a neg- ative relationship between body condition and milkability.


By physically palpating and feeling the goat, at both the lumbar and sternal areas, you will develop your “eye” for body


Spinous processes (dorsal/transverse) are prominent and


(moderate) sharp; thin flesh covering between hooks and pins; some ribs visible; definite depression between hooks


(moderate) sharp; thin flesh covering between hooks and pins; some ribs visible; definite depression between hooks


with bone; prominent ‘V’ shaped cavity under tail; outline of of spine and ribs are still visible; bony surface of the sternum protruding


Not as weak nor asr emaciated as (1); skin in direct contact outline of sternum


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