Window of opportunity to lift ewe condition

// Rearing and Weaning

Sheep farmers in many parts of the country have the next six to eight weeks to lift the condition of their lighter ewes before the ram goes out.

Image of farmers body conditioning scoring ewes

Body Condition Scoring pre-tupping allows farmers to identify any ewes that fall outside the optimum BCS 3–4. These can be then managed strategically to either lift or reduce body condition. This could include running lighter-conditioned ewes on priority pasture or forage crops and/or supplementary feeding

Numerous studies have shown that ewes with a BCS of 3–4 at lambing give birth to heavier lambs, are better mothers, have more milk and wean heavier lambs with a higher survival rate.

How to Body Condition Score

A hand is placed behind the 13th rib and using of the balls of the fingers and thumbs, feel the backbone with the thumb and end of the short ribs with the finger tips behind the last rib. Feel the muscle and fat cover around the end of the short ribs and backbone.

What does BCS 3 feel like?

The vertical processes are smooth and rounded; the bone is only felt with pressure. The horizontal processes are also smooth and well-covered; hard pressure with the fingers is needed to find the ends. The loin muscle is full with a moderate fat cover.

The actual numbers are not as important as consistency, so it is preferable for just one or two people to be doing the scoring.

For more information about Body Condition Scoring, including how-to videos, podcasts and factsheets go to: