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Review Article Open Access
The body condition scoring (BCS) is a subjective estimate of the energy reserves in adipose tissues of a dairy cow and acts as an important tool for dairy cow management. The various methods to assess the body condition are post slaughter techniques, estimation of weight, laboratory techniques such as respiration calorimeter, estimating fat cells diameter, ultrasonography for back fat thickness (BFT) and body condition scoring (BCS). Out of these methods, the most primary, non-invasive, quick and inexpensive method is BCS, which involves the visual and manual assessment of thickness of fat cover at different skeletal check points. On the basis of BCS, the dairy cows can be classified into different categories viz. under condition, average or over condition cows, which affects the performance of animal. During dry period and at the time of calving, there should be no under / over conditioning. The targeted BCS should be at 3.25 to 3.5 (1-5 point scale). Generally, BCS shows the decreasing trend during early lactation due to homeorhetic response caused by negative energy balance and partitioning of energy reserves to support milk production. Excessive loss of energy during this period, generally in cows with higher / lower BCS at calving, results in productive, reproductive, metabolic disorders in dairy cows. Once, the cow recovers from negative energy balance, it starts gaining BCS during mid and late lactation. Environmental factors, i.e., inclement weather such as high or low temperature also affects the BCS. Since, the patterns of BCS change are under the genetic influences (e.g. by DGAT 1 gene in Holstein cows), thus increase / decrease of BCS is not same for all the cows. The on-going research in automation of BCS might provide a more accurate, practical and less time consuming means of estimating energy content of dairy cattle.