Body Condition Scores for Deer

Body Condition Scoring allows you to monitor the health and condition of your deer. Optimal Body Condition in bucks will allow for greater antler growth. Does will be more fertile: produce more high-quality milk, resulting in healthier, faster growing fawns. The Purina Mills Body Condition Scoring System allows you to visually score your deer based on fat coverage on several key body areas. Ideal Body Condition Scores lies between 3-4 (can be as high as 4.5 just prior to the rut, especially in bucks).

  1. POOR – Deer is emaciated.  Majority of ribs are prominent during summer and visible but less distinct in winter.  Spine appears sharp with a steep muscle angle and prominent sawtooth appearance form the side.  Hip bone is clearly visible with sharp edges, surrounded by sunken muscles at the rump. Tail head is devoid of fat and framed by deep sunken depressions on each side, resulting in sharp looking pin bones. Belly is tucked high with hollow flanks and a sharp shelf.  Brisket is thin and narrow.
  2. LEAN – Deer is thin.  Many ribs visible but not prominent during summer.  In winter, ribs are slightly prominent. Spine is evident but not sharp, with somewhat steep muscle angle and mild sawtooth side appearance.  Hip bone is clearly seen, with sharp edges and sightly sunken rump muscles.  Tail head displays sunken depressions on each side, with sharp pin bones and a small amount of observable fat.
  3. PRIME – Deer is strong, muscular and healthy.  Ribs should be slightly visible but not sharp during warmer months.  Ribs are nicely covered in flesh and not visible in winter..  Spine is visible, but not prominent, and surrounded by moderately sloping muscles.  No “sawtoothing” of the spine is visible.  Rump clearly visible but not sharp, featuring flat, angular muscles.  Tail head reflects slight hollows at either side, rounded pin bone and a small bit of fat.  Belly has a slight depression with slight shelf and lean appearance with no fat rolls.  Slightly rounded brisket.
  4. HEAVY – Deer is healthy, but carrying a few extra pounds, considered normal and healthy prior to rut.  Ribs are not visible.  Sine is not readily seen, with adjoining muscles rising at a gentle slope.  Hips are full with hip bone barely visible.  Slight depression can be seen beside tail head.  Pin bones appear rounded and smooth.  Flank is full with no shelf.  Slight fat rolls developing. Brisket appears full and rounded.
  5. OBESE – Does may have reproductive problems. Ribs are layered in fat.  Spine lies buried in fat, surrounded by rounding muscles with little to no slope.  Hip bone is hidden by fat.  Rump appears full and overly round.  Tail head is covered with rounding at each side, pin bones are buried in fat. Belly is distended, with full flank and no shelf.  Fat rolls are clearly evident at the midline and brisket.

Source:  Purina Mills

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