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Animal Body Condition Score Predictions Research Study Scholarship for PHD Students

Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences Scholarships in New Zealand

Massey University New Zealand

Improving the consistency and reliability  of live weight and body condition score (BCS) predictions.

The consistency and reliability of live weights of both sheep and cattle is affected by a number of variables.  Rumen gut fill can account for more than 5% of total live weight and therefore time off feed affects the live weight at any given time point when the live weight is recorded..  It is known that total live weight declines in a non-liner manner during the first 12 to 24 hours post removal from feed, with a faster rate occurring soon after removal. Inconsistencies in live weight measurements limit interpretations of live weights for  management decisions, for example resulting in poor decisions when deciding which animals to sell for slaughter or determining if feeding levels of a pregnant animal are resulting in appropriate total live weight gains.   With electronic identification and modern weigh systems it is now possible to collect lifetime data improving management outcomes however, the usefulness of that data is also dependent on consistent live weights over time.  Weigh systems can collect individual time of weighing.  In theory using that knowledge, combined with the time at which animals were collected for weighting and using yet to be developed equations for predicting live weight change over time post removal from feed it should be possible to calculate consistent live weight measurement. Modern weigh system should be able to provide this information to farmer instantaneously.  In addition to creating these live weight adjustment equations questions needing to be asked include but are not limited too; do the equations differ based on age, physiological sate and type and level of feeding.          

In sheep BCS is known to be related to animal performance and while farmers who do use body condition score acknowledge these benefit the majority of farmer still do don’t BCS as they see it as labour intensive. BCS, in comparison with live weight, circumvents the issues of skeletal size between and within breeds and physiological state and is not influenced by gut fill or the length and wetness of the fleece.  Modern weigh systems combined with electronic identification allow for lifetime data to be collected.  The mature live weight of a sheep  occurs at approximately three years of age.  Therefore using that information combined with a BCS at that stage it should be possible to identify a base BCS and live weight relationship for a sheep.   Then as the sheep ages future live weights, based on the above prediction equations should be able to be used predict a change in BCS, resulting in live weight recordings providing two types of data.  This relationship has not been tested.  In theory it should also be possible using physical size data and live weight of a young animal to predict a future mature weight and BCS relationship.  If this was feasible it should be possible to determine a BCS for an individual based on an individual live weight from a young age.  This hypothesis needs testing also.    


A Scholarship will be available

Closing date 12 July 2017

Please send your CV, and academic transcripts and a letter to



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Doctor of Philosophy



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Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences
College of Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 11 222
Palmerston North

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Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences

College of Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 11 222
Palmerston North



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