Timing Rule of Thumb Score Problem Action
(250 days in milk)
Most important condition scoring time

Ideal Condition Score:
2.5 - 3.5
No more than 10% of herd should be over condition score 3.5 <2.5

Prolonged period of under nutrition.

Poor milk yield and milk quality.

Check energy : protein balance of ration.

Consider increasing energy density of ration.


Likely to dry off and calve too fat.

Higher probability of calving difficulties.

Poor appetite and rapid condition loss in early part of next lactation.

Higher incidence of ketosis and fatty liver syndrome in next lactation.

Poor fertility in next lactation.

Reduction in condition before drying off.

Feed less concentrate particularly if using a starchy compound.


Ideal Condition Score:
2.5 - 3.5
Large gains in body condition during the dry period lead to large losses of condition in early lactation. <2.5 Will calve in poor condition and have reduced body reserves for quality milk production. Feed to improve condition of under-conditioned cows in dry period

Too late to dramatically alter condition (damaging to do so).

Greater incidence of calving problems, as fat deposits in the pelvic region can block the birth canal.

If fatty liver prevalent, aim to reduce condition a little in dry period.

Reduce energy intake.


Ideal Condition Score:
2.5 - 3.5
A maximum loss of half a condition score from calving through early lactation is acceptable. <2.5

Cannot consume enough to satisfy demands for milk and maintenance, especially if feeding a low energy ration.

Lack of condition means lower reserves to call on if encounters sub-optimal nutrition.

Risk of low milk protein.

Aim to feed a high energy ration.

Limited appetite and lower utilisation of forage.

Potential yield not achieved.

Higher incidence of milk fever.

Consider the cows lower dry matter intake when formulating ration.

Ensure adequate protein available in ration.

(Post calving examination)

Ideal Condition Score:
2.25 - 3.5
No more than 10% of the herd should be under condition score 2.0. <2.5

Will not milk to potential peak yield.

Poor milk protein %.

Probable low conception rates to first service.

If condition is recorded throughout the herd, revise feeding programme to ensure further losses do not occur.

Identify high yielders in poor condition and do not expect pregnancy until back into positive energy balance

Thin cows that are not high yielders are not getting enough energy.


Greater & faster mobilisation of body reserves therefore increased number of defective follicles resulting in fertility problems.

Lower feed conversion efficiency.

Higher incidence of sub/clinical ketosis.

Higher incidence of fatty liver syndrome.

Higher incidence of retained cleansings.

If fatty liver prevalent, aim to reduce condition a little in dry period.

Reduce energy intake.

(Pregnancy diagnosis)

Ideal Condition Score:
2.0 - 3.5
A high yielding cow should lose no more condition than a lower yielding cow. <2.0 Probable low conception rate to first service.

Check pregnancy diagnosis.

Adjust ration to reach minimum condition score 2.5 by dry off.

Increase energy density if severely under-conditioned.


May approach late lactation carrying too much fat.

Increased risk of ketosis and fatty liver syndrome in next lactation.

Can be a problem especially seen with a single group TMR feeding

Reduce energy intake or move to a lower production group earlier than anticipated.

Avoid high starch compounds.

Why condition score?
How do I condition score?
When do I condition score?
Condition score examples
Score guide reference
Score chart for use on farm