Breeder and heifer management for rangeland cattle

Page last updated: Monday, 23 October 2017 - 11:29am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This section contains information relating to breeder and heifer management for rangeland cattle. Topics covered include body condition score, heifer management and breeder management.

Body condition score

Body condition score is the main driver of breeder performance. Body condition score is a visual assessment of overall fleshing, including fat and muscle tissue. Body condition score is usually described on a 1–5 scale. The scale can be categorised as follows:

1.  Poor

  • no fat cover

  • very low level of muscle tissue

  • skeletal definition very pronounced.

2.  Backward store

  • light muscle tissue cover

  • skeletal definition pronounced, particularly the backbone and rear ribs.

3.  Moderate

  • a reasonable degree of muscle tissue present but no significant levels of fat

  • neither the backbone nor ribs are prominent

  • pins are filled out and hip remains prominent.

4.  Forward store

  • even coverage of muscle and fat

  • skeletal definition smoothly rounded.

5.  Fat

  • significant levels of fat

  • skeletal definition lost.

Poor and backward store body condition is one of the main impediments to resumption of cycling in breeders. Cows need to have a body condition of score of three or greater at calving to have a chance of reconceiving and calving within 12 months.

Body condition score can be managed using the following strategies, in order of importance:

  • stocking rate
  • weaning
  • supplementation
  • pregnancy testing and breeder segregation.

Contact information

Rebecca Butcher
+61 (0)8 9651 0540


Rebecca Butcher