Body condition scoring

There are two areas to access when condition scoring goats; the lumbar area (short ribs) and the sterna area (brisket).

Lumbar score system:

Run your hands over the short ribs and back bones. Focus on the short ribs numbers 2-5.

0 = The animal is extremely emaciated. The skin seems to be in direct contact with the bones. The back bone is full of ridges and the ridges between the vertebrae are easily felt.
1 = Muscle extends at the most two-thirds of the distance along the short ribs. You can feel the joints between the vertebrae along the back but can’t see them.
2 = The short ribs and the back bone is prominent, the skin forms a concave line between the bones of the back.
3 = The skin along the back bone is straight (Rather than dipping in). The bones can still be felt though. The skin makes a straight line between the top of the back and the short ribs.
4 = The back bone is hard to feel, the skin between the back bone and the short ribs is rounded outwards.
5 = There is a prominent groove down the backline and the fat and muscles mound up on each side of this groove (obese).

Sternal score system:

The sternum is the bone running along under the goat, from the brisket backwards. Run your hands over this area.

0 = You can easily feel where the ribs meet the sternum. The boney surface of the sternum is easily felt. The tough bit of skin on the sternum where the goat lies can’t be moved side to side.
1 = The ribs can still be felt where they meet the sternum but they are more rounded.  The skin can be moved. You can feel a depression over the sternum.
2 = The join between the ribs and sternum is difficult to feel. The muscles on either side of the sternum are more “full”. The sternum depression is partially filled with fat.
3 = The depression in the sternum is filled with a thin, mobile mass of fat.  There should be depressions on each side, between the mass of fat, muscle and bones. If you feel the rib cage you can feel where the ribs change from bone to cartilage.
4 = Sternum and ribs are no longer able to be felt but a depression is still felt of each side of the thick area of fat that covers the sternum.
5 = There is fat everywhere around the sternum– goat is obese.

Why two systems?

The lumbar system reflects the body protein the goat holds while the sterna system reflects the fat.

Which goats should you score?

Choose 15 goats from your herd 2 months before breeding. Three of these goats should be high producers, 9 mid producers and 3 low producers. Record these goats because you’ll be using the same goats every time. If you can’t identify goats by production choose mostly middle aged goats.

When should you be scoring your goats?

Score the same 15 goats every time. Score your goats 2 months before breeding begins, the end of lactation and immediately after they kid.

What score should your goats be at?

Any individual goat with a score less than 2 is a big concern and should be investigated.

At dry off

At kidding 

Two months before mating

Lumber score




Sternal score





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