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  • Open Access

On BCS Evaluation in Estonian Heifers and Primiparous Cows

  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 2 and
  • 2
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica200344 (Suppl 1) :P116

  • Published:


  • Body Weight
  • Independent Experience
  • Evaluation System
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Preliminary Data

To introduce body condition scoring (BCS) in Estonia, repeatability of the scoring of Estonian breeds was evaluated and the relationship of BCS change with body weight (BW) change of primiparous cows was analysed.

Every fortnight 40 Estonian Holstein, 24 Estonian Red, 20 Red Holstein and 4 Estonian Native breed heifers and primiparous cows on an experimental farm were scored during 10 weeks on a five-point scale outlined by [3]. Every time all animals obtained two scores: one from an evaluator who used Edmondson's evaluating chart and the other from a pair of evaluators using Ferguson's decision chart for BCS. The observers had previous independent experience. Observers agreed (r = 0,88) with the absolute score in 37.7% of the cases, deviating by 0.25 units in 45.3% of the cases. The best coincidence of the scores was between the values from 2.0 to 3.5 points. Our results confirmed the reliability of the method. To better standardise the scoring a single evaluation system must be used. We preferred Ferguson's method because of its step by step build-up.

Every fortnight 42 Estonian Holstein and 24 Estonian Red pregnant heifers and primiparous cows were BC scored (Edmondson's chart) starting from 2 weeks before calving and weighed on a scale once a month from calving to 20 weeks post-partum. Regression analysis showed significant (P < 0.01) correlation between BW change and BCS change during the period of postparturient BCS decline of 12 weeks in Estonian Holstein (from 3.7 to 2.7) and 14 weeks in Estonian Red cows (from 3.9 to 3.1). According to our preliminary data, 1 BCS point change corresponded to 72 kg change in Estonian Holstein and 52 kg in Estonian Red primiparous postparturient cows. In both breeds 1 BCS point change corresponded to 13% of BW change.

Authors’ Affiliations

Institute of Animal Science, Estonian Agricultural University, Kreutzwaldi 1, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Estonian Agricultural University, Kreutzwaldi 62, 51014 Tartu, Estonia


  1. Edmondson AJ, Lean IJ, Weaver LD, Farver T, Webster G: A body condition scoring chart for Holstein dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 1989, 72: 68-10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(89)79081-0.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Ferguson JD, David T, Galligan T, Thomsen N: Principal descriptors of body condition score in Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. 1994, 77: 2695-10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(94)77212-X.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Wildman EE, Jones GM, Wagner PE, Boman RL, Troutt HF, Lesch TN: A dairy cow body condition scoring system and its relationship to selected production characteristics. J Dairy Sci. 1982, 65: 495-10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(82)82223-6.View ArticleGoogle Scholar


© The Author(s); licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2003

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.