Relationships among international body condition scoring systems
Roche, JR and Dillon, PG and Stockdale, CR and Baumgard, LH and VanBaale, MJ, Relationships among international body condition scoring systems, Journal of Dairy Science, 87, (9) pp. 3076-3079. ISSN 0022-0302 (2004) [Refereed Article]
Scoring body condition and assessing changes in the body condition of dairy cattle have become strategic tools in both farm management and research. Consequently, body condition score (BCS) is being researched extensively throughout the world. However, international sharing, comparing, and use of data generated are limited because different BCS systems exist. In the United States and Ireland a 5-point BCS system is used for dairy cows, whereas Australia and New Zealand use 8- and 10-point scales, respectively. The New Zealand 10-point scale was compared with the scoring systems in the United States, Ireland, and Australia by trained assessors. Cows were assessed visually in the United States and Australia, and in Ireland, cows were assessed by palpating key areas of the cow's body (n = 154, 110, and 120, respectively). Data were analyzed by regression. Significant positive linear relationships were found between the New Zealand 10-point scale and the other scoring systems: US 5-point scale, r 2 = 0.54; Irish 5-point scale, r2 = 0.72; and Australian 8-point scale, r2 = 0.61. Those relationships must be interpreted cautiously because respective BCS within a given country were by just one experienced evaluator in each country in comparison to a separate evaluator scoring all cows in all counties using the New Zealand 10-point scale. Also, few very thin or very fat cows limit evaluation across extremes of BCS. However, differences between systems were not accurately predicted by simple mathematical calculations. The relationship may be closer for New Zealand and Ireland (r2 = 0.72) because both of those scoring systems include palpation of individual body parts, whereas visual evaluation is done in Australia and the United States. The current study is the first to examine relationships among differing BCS systems. These results may be useful for comparing/extrapolating research findings from different countries.