The Accuracy and Repeatability of Sow Body Condition Scoring

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Fitzgerald, R. F.
Stalder, K. J.
Dixon, P. M.
Johnson, A. K.
Karriker, L. A.
Jones, G. F.
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Karriker, Locke
Morrill Professor
Dixon, Philip
University Professor
Johnson, Anna
Professor Animal Behavior and Welfare
Stalder, Kenneth
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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As leaders in statistical research, collaboration, and education, the Department of Statistics at Iowa State University offers students an education like no other. We are committed to our mission of developing and applying statistical methods, and proud of our award-winning students and faculty.
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Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
The mission of VDPAM is to educate current and future food animal veterinarians, population medicine scientists and stakeholders by increasing our understanding of issues that impact the health, productivity and well-being of food and fiber producing animals; developing innovative solutions for animal health and food safety; and providing the highest quality, most comprehensive clinical practice and diagnostic services. Our department is made up of highly trained specialists who span a wide range of veterinary disciplines and species interests. We have faculty of all ranks with expertise in diagnostics, medicine, surgery, pathology, microbiology, epidemiology, public health, and production medicine. Most have earned certification from specialty boards. Dozens of additional scientists and laboratory technicians support the research and service components of our department.
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The objective of this study was to estimate observer accuracy and repeatability of body condition scoring sows when scorers have different levels of prior experience. Three groups of participants (n = 10) for this study were identified as having no (NE, n = 3), some (SE, n = 4), and extensive (EE, n = 3) prior experience evaluating conformation or body condition in livestock species. Two persons having extensive prior experience with body condition scoring served as instructors (TR) during the training sessions. Twenty-five of a total 150 sows were utilized in the participant training session, and the remaining sows (n = 125) were utilized during the independent scoring process. Sows utilized in the scoring process were objectively categorized into a 5- and 9-point body condition score (BCS5 and BCS9, respectively) using last rib backfat estimates. Participants were in poor agreement with BCSbackfat as overall Kappa values were 0.23 on the BCS5 and 0.13 on the BCS9 scales. While the trainers consistently averaged the largest measures of intra- and interobserver agreement with BCSbackfat, other participants primarily in the EE and SE groups achieved similar levels of agreement. Participant BCS5 and BCS9 deviation evaluations from BCSbackfat, revealed a tendency for participants to overestimate BCS in some sows and underestimate BCS in others. While the trainers consistently averaged the largest measures of intra- and interobserver agreement with BCSbackfat, other participants primarily in the EE and SE groups achieved similar levels of agreement.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Fitzgerald, R. F., K. J. Stalder, P. M. Dixon, A. K. Johnson, L. A. Karriker, and G. F. Jones. "The Accuracy and Repeatability of Sow Body Condition Scoring." The Professional Animal Scientist 25, no. 4 (2009): 415-425. doi: 10.15232/S1080-7446(15)30736-1. Posted with permission.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009