Cull Cow Decision Action Card

This action card can help you decide if a cow is fit to ship. Discuss cull cow welfare and options for compromised animals with a veterinarian. The links provide additional information on each topic and how to assess. Check here for Humane Transport information. This card is meant to be a guide.

The information for this card was adapted from: Moorman, AKG et al. 2018 Assessment of culled dairy cows on farms, and at livestock auctions markets in Ontario. University of Guelph Thesis.

Question Measure and Record Requirements or Resources
Is her body temperature normal? Measure body temperature

____________ °C or °F

Normal: Yes or No
Normal body temperature

37.9-39.4°C or 100.2 - 102.9 °F
Is her body condition score thin (<2.0/5.0)?

Body Condition Score


Acceptable: Yes or No

Body condition score of 2.0 or higher out of 5.0.

Body Condition Scoring of Dairy Cattle

Quick Guide to Body Condition Scoring
Is she lame? (i.e., limping won't put full weight on foot)

Lameness Score


Acceptable: Yes or No

Lameness score 0 (none) or 1 out of 5. The cow is not visibly lame.

Lameness Descriptions Rendering Animals Compromised or Unfit for Transport - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Quick Guide to Gait Scoring - Dairy Farmers of Canada
Has she been dried off?

Last milking (dd/mm/yy)


Dried off: Yes or No

Drying Cows Off
Are drug residues possible?

Last date treated (dd/mm/yy):


Withdrawal time complete: Yes or No

The Need to Read

Food Insight (Animal Antibiotics, Antimicrobial Resistance and Impact on Food Safety)
Could mastitis flare up? Check California Mastitis Test (CMT):

RF______ RH______
LF ______ LH ______

No or mild mastitis:
Yes or No

No or only mild cases of mastitis.
Is she sick or in pain? (i.e., snotty nose, vaginal discharge, off feed, twisted stomach, diarrhea, swelling/lumps, abscesses, surgery sites, abscesses)

List issue(s):


Are these problems acceptable for sale?
Check with your vet if unsure.

Signs of an Unfit Animal

For more information:
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