Goat’s and Body Condition Scoring

It is spring!  And most of us aren’t thinking about the Body Condition Score, or BCS, of our animals.  We are kidding, getting ready to kid, or done with all that sighing in relief!  Many are thinking about production sales, how good the kids look, and what does or bucks to keep for this fall’s breeding.  However, BCS is important no matter the time of year.  If you are about to start kidding, checking BCS is critical for your does.  If you are done, look closely at the does and how they are handling the stress of milking and recovering.  Our feed regimes are important, as they determine most animals body weight, but a doe that has wild swings in body weight after kidding could be at risk of metabolic disorders now, or she might throw a red flag and make you think, “if she looks like this this year, how will she handle next kidding season?”.  The bucks should be fat and happy at this point, putting on the weight they lost during the rut.  Kids?  They should be going gangbusters!

So if you have not learned about it, you ask, what is BCS?  And how do I figure that on my flock?  Body condition scoring is a system of assigning a score based on physical characteristics, such as muscle size and fat cover. These include the amount of muscle and fat covering the spine in the loin area, ribs and fat pad at the sternum. Body condition scores range from 1 (very thin/bony) to 5 (obese) in one-half score increments. For detailed information see Langston University and their American Institute for Goat Research Web site describing Body Condition Scoring of Goats (see http://www2.luresext.edu/goats/research/bcshowto.html) and Examples of Body Condition Scores in Goats (see following section on BCS or http://www2.luresext.edu/goats/research/bcs.html).

BCS Introduction

How to Body Condition Score

This material was taken largely from the following website, where you can gain more detail and see great pictures of animals at different stages of condition.  If you have questions and would like them answered locally, reach out to your local Extension Office!

Reference: Detweiler, G., T. Gipson, R. C. Merkel, A. Goetsch, and T. Sahlu. 2008. Body Condition Scores in Goats. Pages 127-133 in Proc. 23rd Ann. Goat Field Day, Langston University, Langston, OK.

Edited and Submitted by John G. Thompson, Extension Agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Fluvanna County Virginia.​