The Significance of Body Condition Scores and FAMACHA Scores

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Happy Sheep

Happy Sheep

With winter starting in a few weeks, the cold temperatures are starting to creep up on us, it is time to start thinking about animal nutrition and how your animals are going to make it through the winter. Cold weather is going to cause your animals to eat more feed and hay due to the cold temperatures causing their bodies to work overtime to stay warm. Let’s look at some ways to get ahead of this so our animals can stay happy and healthy this winter.

Have you stopped to look at your animals to see how their body condition is? If you have not, then you should take some time and start writing down the animals BCS (Body Condition Score). The body condition score can help you to determine whether your animals are too skinny or obese. You may be asking “Why is this important?” Body condition scores become important for many different reasons. BCS can help show you if your animals are not getting enough nutrients, or if they are getting way too much to eat. BCS also plays a role in fertility of your animals. If the animals are on the obese side of the scale they are likely to have more problems with becoming pregnant, and can also have more complications when giving birth. If you have an animal with a low BCS, the animal could be severly lacking nutrients which can cause problems with becoming pregnant, and can lead to mortality during the birthing process. In this newsletter I have included a Factsheet from the University of Flordia that talks about BCS and how to tell where your animals are on the scale. If you have an animal with a body condition score of a 1, the chances of it surviving through the winter without added feed and hay does not look very good for it at all. Ideally you would like a 3 on the BCS scale, that is where the animal is not too skinny or too fat. This is something to keep in mind when the cold temperatures are starting to sit in. Entering winter with an ideal BCS will help make the cold tempereratures a little less hard on your animals this winter.

If you notice that your animals are getting skinny but you are unsure as to why, then have you checked the animals FAMACHA scores lately? The FAMACHA scores helps to tell you the parasite load in your animals. The lighter the color under the eye, means the worse the parasite load is. I have included a link to NC State Extension, the page has a lot of resources on it that discusses paratsite control and has great links about FAMACHA, and has some educational videos to demonstrate how to check it. Take some time to look through all this helpful information, it could benefit your operation.

If you have not, I highly encourage working your animals as soon as possible to check their FAMACHA scores and their body condition scores as well. You may be wondering how these two scores affect each other. Well, the FAMACHA score can help you to determine the parasite load that your sheep and goats may be carrying in them. Thus, this will have a negative effect on your BCS causing the animals body to be under a lot more pressure causing the body to work overtime, consequently causing weight loss.

While trying to work your animals, and make important notes on them; can seem like a time consuming and daughting task however, it is one that is very important. Not only does it help you see how your livestock are doing, but it also gives you the chance to look at each animal closely and see what is working and what you should change in your operation.

Body Condition Scoring Fact Sheet- Written by the IFAS Extension University of Florida

FAMACHA Information- NC State Extension

Written By

Skyler Murray, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionSkyler MurrayExtension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock & Field Crops Call Skyler Email Skyler N.C. Cooperative Extension, McDowell County Center
Posted on Nov 20, 2023
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