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Hair scoring the cows

Sometimes, we have to judge each other’s hair. Especially cattle. Ideally, we want cows to shed their winter coats before mid-June. This makes them more attractive, more productive, and better able to cope with heat stress due to fescue toxicosis. Hair usually sheds off first at the front end and the top of the animal.

Eldon Cole is an extension livestock specialist at the University of Missouri. He says the cattle industry has adopted hair scoring ratings that range from one-to-five.

"A “1” score is an animal that is completely shed off, they’re very slick, you can’t find any long, dead hair on them. A “2” is going to be about 75% shed off. There will be a little hair on their back end and the lower parts of the quarter. A “3” is about 50-50. A “4” only being 25% shed, and of course a “5” looks like a wooly mammoth," says Cole.

Ideally your cattle would score a one. But Cole says if you’re worried about slow shedding, compare that with overall performance.

"If you’re looking at a cow, you’ll want to make sure she’s still in the top half of the herd, probably, on reproduction and that she’s raising a good calf year after year," he says. "So, yes, there can be instances where an animal may not totally shed off but still have good performance and you need to kind of blend those two together."

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