December 09, 2008

Body Condition Scoring of Goats

This helpful video I found on YouTube demonstrates Body condition scoring of goats. Make sure your speakers are turned on.

Body condition scoring (BCS) is a simple, quick method of assessing the condition of your goats. It is a good tool goat owners can use to determine the nutritional and health status of their goats. This allows the goat owner to adjust their feeding programs to better meet the animal’s needs and to prevent breeding problems caused by over or under conditioning.

However, only looking at a goat does not provide a reliable indication of its condition. The goat owner must physically handle the animal, feel and evaluate the amount of muscle, skeletal features and fat covering in several key parts of the body to accurately determine the BCS. These would be the backbone over the loin, on either side of the spine, over the ribs and the sternum. This diagram labels the areas of the back that are examined and used to determine the BCS. These are the areas talked about in the video.

Based on this a score of 1 to 5 is then given to the goat, with 1 being very thin and skeletal and five being obese. The five condition scores are:

1. Very thin. Goat is weak, skeletal features very prominent and visible. Spinous process visible, very prominent and sharp; transverse process also easily felt and sharp. Ribs are very visible with no fat cover.

2. Thin. Spinous process prominent but less sharp with a continuous ridge; transverse process smoother on ends; loin muscle more depth and fullness; no discernible fat covering. Some ribs can be seen and there is a small amount of fat cover. Ribs are still felt.

3. Average. Spinous process easily felt with finger pressure but smooth and rounded; transverse process smooth and fat covered; loin muscle full with some fat cover, but limited. Ribs are smooth and barely discernible; an even layer of fat covers them.

4. Fat. It is impossible to grasp the spinous processes of the lumbar vertebrae, which are wrapped in a thick layer of muscle and fat. The spinous processes form a continuous line. There is a rounded transition from spinous to transverse processes. Ribs are not seen.

5. Very fat/obese. Spinous process cannot be felt, and forms a depression along the backbone; transverse process cannot be felt; loin very wide and thick over loin edge; evidence of fat around dock extending forward on rump. Ribs are not visible. The rib cage is covered with excessive fat.

Goats should be maintained with a moderate amount of body condition. Pregnant does should not be allowed to climb toward a BCS of 4 or higher since they risk toxemia or kidding difficulty, at the same time does should never be allowed to slip below a BCS of 2 as this may result in a reduced number of offspring or does that give birth to small, weak kids.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff!

Stephanie said...

Just wanted to let you know I did respond to your venison question on my blog, but in case you didn't see that, try cooking it with tomato sauce or ginger ale. Hope it works for you! :)

Anonymous said...

You explained the body condition scoring of the goats very well.

I know from experience that goats need worming to help keep them in shape and parasites are the number 1 cause of death in goats.
Have you ever saw the site "Goat wisdom"? I learned so much from that site.
and..I learned a lot from your post today also. Thanks.

Great job on your article and explanation.
Have a good day.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Thank you Amy.

Thank you for letting me know Stephanie, I left a comment for you over at your blog and thank you for the suggestions!

Thank you Pam. I have been there before but not for a long time, I will have to check it out again.

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