Each dairy breed has established breed standards for type. Classification is the means of measuring how close an animal comes to the ideal. Like all things, classification has evolved over the years as breed goals and the environment in which the cow lives change. Classification is performed by a small group of well-trained individuals who meet on a regular basis to ensure the quality and uniformity of the program. Classification information has two primary purposes, breeding and marketing.
As a breeding tool, the breeder can look at the linear scores to see where his cow needs improvement and select matings accordingly. The linear scores from each daughter go into the UDSA sire summary information and describe the type traits of a bull’s offspring.
As a marketing tool, the breakdowns and final score appear on pedigrees and in advertising. The final score is used the most to promote the animal and her offspring with the mammary breakdown score the second most used classification score in advertising.
The current Brown Swiss scorecard was developed in 2007. It is made up of 16 linear traits with five major breakdowns and puts emphasis on the traits that contribute to the productive life of the animal. The 16 linear traits are scored on a 1 – 9 scale with the higher numbers being more desirable for most traits. For some traits such as ‘rear legs side view’ the middle of the scale is more ideal, not too straight nor too much set. Many of the linear trait measurements are based on an actual measurement with age and stage of lactation not being considered.
The five major breakdowns have a numerical score range from 50 to 99 points and are weighted as follows to determine the final score.
|Final numerical scores can range from 60 points to 95 points and are categorized as follows.
Strength and Substance = 15%
Dairy Quality = 15%
Rump = 10%
Mobility = 20%
Mammary System = 40%
90 – 95 Excellent
85 – 89 Very Good
80 – 84 Good Plus
75 – 79 Good
65 – 74 Fair
60 – 64 Poor
The combination of the linear scores, five major breakdowns and the final score will describe the cow showing her strengths and weaknesses, which creates a mental picture without actually seeing the animal. It provides a uniform measuring tool that all breeders can understand and use.
Signing up for Tours
Herds enrolled in the BSA and PTPR programs are automatically included in the regular classification tours, which take place every seven months in each different area of the country.
Non BSA and PTPR herds can apply for classification by filling out a classification application. Applications are routinely sent to all active herds in an area 90 days before the start of that tour. They can also be obtained by calling the National Office to request an application.
The classification tour schedule is published each month in the Bulletin. Applications are due into the national office 60 days prior to the start of classification in that area. If a breeder would like his herd scored at a time other than during the regular tour, they can contact the national office and request a Special Classification (additional cost).