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What's Body Condition Mean?

Ok, so I am done with the "meaningful" glimpses into my personal life and diving straight back into the my hopefully incitful Dexter posts. I assume most of you reading this are secretly cheering! Its ok, I understand.


This past Tuesday, we did our yearly crazy day of running our entire herd through the chute. I WISH we had the set ups that some of you have. I am truly jealous of some of the set ups I have seen posted on the various Facebook pages. However, we have to do with what we have. It works, we get the job done. We ended up running 40+ cows, calves, and bulls through the chutes in a couple of hours. Its a busy time and generally a good day. We bring in the local vet and with him he brings the squeeze chute. Thank goodness for a squeeze chute, without it we wouldn't be able to be nearly as efficient with our time and energy, especially when your vet charges by the hour.

While in the chute, all of the cows get pregnancy checked via palpation, vaccinated with Cattlemaster (covers BOVINE RHINOTRACHEITIS — VIRUS DIARRHEA — PARAINFLUENZA 3 — RESPIRATORY SYNCYTIAL VIRUS VACCINE (MODIFIED-LIVE AND KILLED VIRUS)) and Vision 7 (covers Clostridium chauvoei (Blackleg), septicum (Malignant edema), novyi (Black disease), sordellii and perfringens Types C&D (Enterotoxemia)), and they are then dewormed with Dectomax. Needless to say they are never happy campers when that chute rolls up to the barn. It takes some effort to get those older girls in the headgate since they know just how far to go. While in the chute, the cows get a visual inspection as well which is needed since we have some old girls, our oldest being 16. This visual inspection includes looking at the body condition score.

Now, what's a body condition score and does body condition matter as far as reproduction?

Here's a couple of good diagrams that to give you an idea of what I am talking about. From personal experiences cows that are way too fat, say a body condition of 5+ have a really hard time settling. They may cycle but won't actually be bred. We generally don't have any that are that fat around our place, but we do tend to have our cows more on the lean side. Sometimes too lean as far as I am concerned. We have a couple of cows that I would consider a 2 in the top chart. From what I have seen, extra lean cows don't cycle. There bodies are too involved in maintaining what they have to think its a good idea to also sustain a calf. The last couple of years we have had cows get sucked down too far and come up open when we do pregnancy check in the fall. Depending on the cow, they get a second chance to come back and be bred again over the winter.

Thank goodness we wean the calves and after a few days start feeding the cows grain again. Gives them a chance to recover, hopefully in time for winter to set in. This year has been odd though, we had a very warm fall. Yesterday, November 18 we hit 72 degrees, unheard of in Michigan! Today though... is a completely different story, 30 degrees and snow. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal but the cows definitely didn't have a chance to ready themselves for that.

This happened to be only part of our herd health day. They other part was dealing with 20 calves. We can talk about what happened with them in the next posting.

~Until Next Time

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