BCS as a tool for nutrition requirement of ewes
Aim: To provide a practical and applicable tool for farmers who have issues on nutrition requirement of their flock.
Body condition scoring (BCS) of sheep is a management tool that farmers can use to aid on-farm decision making and optimise animal performance.
BCS provides a subjective assessment of the fat and muscle of the lumbar spine. It can assessed easily by the palpation of both the spinous and transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae and is assessed against a five-point scale ranging 1 to 5 with 1 being emaciated and 5 being extremely fat.
BCS has advantages over the assessment of nutritious status of the flock which can help to improve both your flock’s nutrition requirement and reproductive parameters.
Production: Dairy / Meat
Animal Category: All
Issue: Knowledge of nutrition requirement (ewe)
Level of Solution: Knowledge
How to implement it
- Does not require any equipment
- Hand over the spine and the loin area between the last rib and the hip bones of each ewe
- Feel for fat covering the ‘spinous processes’ (the part of the spine that points upwards) and the ‘transverse processes’ (the bony protrusions from either side of each vertebra)
- The more prominent the bone feels, the lower the body condition
- Score them accordingly from 1-5
- Far better performance of the flock
- Better nutrition and feed management
Cost Benefit analysis
BCS tool allows farmer to classify animals according to their conditions which will improve the productivity. BSC application may increase the labour essential amount however its benefits are far beyond this labour cost. Because animals will be under better health and bosy conditions the vet servise cost will decrease.
BCS tool will help to increase feed and grazing efficiency with better classification of animals according to their physical stages. Better animals will improve farmers social acceptance and animals welfare.
Prerequisites and/or limits
- Wooliness of the ewe is an important variation to remember
- Sheep need to be assessed individually
- Farmers require training for BCS
- One should feel for fat/muscle covering the bone, not wool density
- The same person should measure every ewe which would provide consistency in the result
- Another important tip is to measure each ewe with the same hand. When the same person measures each ewe in the same way, it’s far easier to detect variance from one sheep to the next.