News & Advice

How do we measure we are feeding enough? Do we condition score or weigh?

Apr 6, 2020 | Beef cattle, Bulls, Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare, Grazing youngstock, Sheep

There are many ways to check if we are feeding enough to meet our goals. We could look at production such as kilograms of beef/lamb/wool produced per head. But this is retrospective and will only tell us if we got it right in the past. These measurements don’t help us make changes for the future to meet the goals we as managers have set, whether that is growth, production or reproduction.

Body condition scoring (BCS) gives a subjective measure of the protein and body fat reserves of an individual animal. Muscle and fat deposits in specific areas of stock are assessed to form the BCS. These reserves are what the stock draw on to support maintenance, production and reproduction in hard times. Eventually, these will run out and all energy and protein being eaten must be used for survival, at the expense of any growth, milk or pregnancy.

So why can’t we use liveweight?

Liveweight is controlled by many variables. Breed, sex, pregnancy, genetics, frame score and gut fill will sway the liveweight every hour, day and week. This makes it an unreliable measurement when trying to predict the feed required to support changing levels of production and reproduction.

There’s always an exception!

Liveweight gain and loss is the best measurement in growing animals. BCS only accounts for the muscle and fat being stored by an animal and cannot measure the frame and organ development that affects liveweight in young stock. In order to reach adult targets, young stock must develop at a certain rate that is much better predicted by liveweight. This is why we set liveweight targets for animals at specific stages of development such as weaning and first mating.

These targets are particularly hard to meet in conditions like these but it makes them no less important. If you have concerns about meeting these goals or questions about how condition scoring could be applied in your system, please get in contact with your local Anexa vet.

COVID-19 Risk Management Plan: Our staff will conduct consults via phone or video call when possible. If you are concerned about body condition, particularly in these drought conditions, we can provide body condition scoring for your herd or flock. While on-farm we will follow government guidelines, keeping a safe distance of at least 2m. Unwell staff will not be working. Our staff will continue to follow high biosecurity and hyigene standards.

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