The Irish Moiled Cattle Society has set up an official Classification Scoring System in conjunction with the classifiers at Holstein UK. Classification is the system of assessing the conformation of an animal and assigning a score out of 100 and categorising them as Poor (P), Fair (F), Good (G), Good Plus (GP), Very Good (VG) or Excellent (E) depending on the score assigned.
The classification system will be a very useful tool for identifying the breeds best and most consistent high scoring cow families (VG and EX animals). From the data collected during the classification process, specific strengths and weaknesses are highlighted allowing informed decisions to be made on making the correct bull selection for your herd and ultimately improving quality within the breed.
Classifiers from Holstein UK will score each cow/bull using a linear system and they will assign a score to the body area, rump area, mammary system, legs and feet and breed character of each animal. The animals current body condition does not have any bearing on the classification score as the classifiers look at the working animal beneath the flesh (i.e animals do not need to be in show condition to be classified)
A separate score will be recorded for 3 other criteria;
1) Muscling (The shape of loin/thigh. Meat producing potential of the animal)
2) Colour (4 categories)
3) 'Poppy' eyes present or absent.
Once your animal is classified you can represent it like so;
'Animals Name' VG 87 5yr
So 'Animals Name' was classified as Very Good with 87 points out of 97 at 5 years old.
How to join up
This is a voluntary system and If you wish to get animals in your herd classified, contact the Society's Breed Secretary, Gillian Steele and your details will then be passed onto the classifiers from Holstein UK who will arrange to call whenever they are in your area. In NI and ROI this will be twice a year (January and June) In England and the rest of the mainland the classifiers will be more available throughout the year.
The cost is £78/€95 per visit for up to 10 cows classified. If there are more than 10 cows to be classified then it is an extra £7/€8.50/cow. If there are only a small number of animals to be classified and if it is feasible to get together with another breeder in the area on the one holding then the cost can be shared.
Bulls are separate to this at £18/€22 per head. All invoiced by, and paid to, the IMCS.
What to get classified
Females must have had at least one calf in order to be classified. If a heifer has calved a little immature then it is advisable to leave her until a 2ndcalver. Cows/ Heifers must be producing milk therefore dry cows are ineligible.
Bulls must be over 2 years old before they are eligible for classification.
Animals can be classified every year, bearing in mind that they may gain more points year on year as they mature but will never drop points. Calved heifers can only score a maximum of VG 89.
Preparation for the Classifier
On the day make sure that whatever animals you plan to get classified are in a shed/pen adjacent to a small yard/collecting pen where each animal can be let out individually to be viewed during the classification process. Animals must be viewed on a level, hard surface therefore a field is not suitable. The animals do not need to be handled therefore a crush or being lead on a halter is not required.
It is very important to have the animals Pedigree Certificate at hand as the classifier needs to copy the animal's details from it and will then will stamp the certificate with the animal's official classification score. It is also important that all animals have correct tags in them in order to be properly identified.
You will also receive an on the spot print out of the full classification score breakdown of the individual animal on the day.