Calving Book

(AS1954, Revised December 2022)
Publication File:

Successful beef production begins with good records. CHAPS™ (Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software) is a web-based recordkeeping and analysis application for cow-calf operations. CHAPS™ can help producers track inventories, evaluate cow profitability, and monitor herd reproduction and calf performance.

Available in print from the NDSU Distribution Center.

Contact your county NDSU Extension office to request a printed copy.
NDSU staff can order copies online (login required).

Publication Sections
Chaps Logo

CHAPS™ (Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software) Online is a data-intensive beef production record system designed to provide you with vital information about your managerial decisions and herd’s performance.

CHAPS™ was developed in 1985 by NDSU Extension and the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association with

CHAPS™ Online being released in 2022. CHAPS™ Online collects, stores and evaluates individual herd data, according to Beef Improvement Federation guidelines. Specialists compile herd data to generate five-year rolling benchmarks of key cow herd production parameters.

For more information about CHAPS™, visit chaps.ndsu.edu or email ndsu.chaps.info@ndsu.edu

Chaps QR Code

Why Keep a Calving Book?

A calving book provides:

  • An inventory of cows in the herd and calves produced for management and marketing decisions
  • Cattle identification in conjunction with calving and weaning information, which is the basis for evaluating cow productivity and herd reproduction
  • Details on health care, bull turnout dates and breeding records of the animals in a beef cow herd

Resource Contact List

Karl Hoppe
Carrington Research Extension Center

Janna Block
Hettinger Research Extension Center

Zachary Carlson
or 701-231-7641
zachary.e.carlson@ndsu.edu or ndsu.ansc@ndsu.edu

NDSU Extension Beef Quality Assurance Specialist
Lisa Pederson

NDSU Extension Veterinarian
Gerald Stokka

Calving Records

Calving Ease (CE) Codes

1 = No difficulty, no assistance

2 = Minor difficulty; some assistance

3 = Major difficulty; usually mechanical assistance

4 = Caesarean section

5 = Abnormal presentation

Sex Codes

0 = Miscellaneous (assigned for management codes A, B and C, and D if sex is unknown)

1 = Bull

2 = Heifer

3 = Steer

International Year Letter Codes

2010 X
2011 Y
2012 Z
2013 A
2014 B
2015 C
2016 D
2017 E
2018 F
2019 G
2020 H
2021 J
2022 K
2023 L
2024 M
2025 N
2026 O
2027 P
2028 Q
2029 R
2030 S
2031 T
2032 U
2033 V
2034 W

Management Codes(MC)

0 = no creep feed
1-7 = months actual creep fed
A = cow that didn’t calve but kept in herd
B = cow aborted
C = calf died before 2 weeks of age
D = calf died after 2 weeks but before weighing
E = embryo transplant
F = purchased calf
N = calf that was in herd but raised by another cow
K = twin, raised on foster cow with known birthdate
S = twin, raised on own dam as single
T = twin, raised on own dam as twin
X = calf present but not weighed

Calving Records

Calf ID

Cow ID










 Calving Summary


Days 1-30


Days 61-90

> 90

Cows calved


Calves lost


Birth difficulty
















# Heifer calves


# Steer calves


# Bull calves




Health Records

The success of a beef operation depends on the health of your beef animals. Healthy cattle grow better. They also adapt to environmental changes faster and more easily.

An active health management protocol is very important. A key component of any health protocol involves a relationship with the local veterinarian, which includes regular dialogue.

Disease control and prevention, animal traceback and good-quality beef products for consumers require collaboration along the entire beef industry chain.

Keep a record of vaccinations, antimicrobials and parasiticids administered to cattle. Keeping this type of information can increase the value of your animals.


Processing information helps you provide a complete “picture” of how you manage your animals . Work with your veterinarian to develop a complete herd health program for your animals.

Most herds process different classes of cattle (calves, cows, bulls or replacement heifers) the same so recording individual ID is not needed. A suggested method could be “Repl Heifers, Red #124-237.”

However, sometimes individual animals are not processed along with others because of some underlying condition such as too young, sick or injured. The ID’s of these animals can be noted as NOT processed. A suggested method could be “Not Processed Repl Heifer #195, running fever.”


DATE PROC – date of processing

PROD – product name, serial number

IDs of animals NOT processed – When recording information, it is often easier to record which animals were NOT processed on that day and record them as a “Treatment” at a later date.

BY WHOM – person administering product

Date Proc.

Product, Dose and Serial #

Processed Group Animal ID’s OR Not Processed
Individual Animal ID

W/D Days

By Whom



Recording the treatment of animals should be on an individual basis. Not all animals will respond the same. Work with your veterinarian to develop a standardized treatment protocol for the different types of animals within your herd. A treatment program is part of a complete herd health program for your animals.


DATE ADMIN – date treatment was administered
ID – animal’s identification
DX – Following are recommendations for diagnosis and treatment:

  • R - respiratory
  • P - pinkeye
  • F - footrot
  • S - structural (ex: leg, hip)
  • U - reproductive (ex: metritis, retained placenta)
  • M - metabolic (ex: grass tetany, milk fever)
  • O - other

PROD – product name, serial number
WD DAYS – product withdrawal days
BY WHOM – person administering product

Date Admin.


Dx (Codes on Page 78)

Prod., Dose and Serial #

W/D Days

By Whom


CHAPS™ Cow Culling Codes

The collection of performance data in beef cattle has helped the industry move forward to evaluate many different traits. In addition to direct economic evaluations, producers can assess resource usage and benefits indirectly.

Another major benefit of performance data is the ability to evaluate traits that can be useful in improving the quality of beef products sold to consumers.

G = cow died
H = cow sold, age
J = cow sold, physical defect
K = cow sold, poor fertility or open
L = cow sold, inferior calves
R = cow sold, replacement stock
Y = cow sold, unknown

Culling Records



(Based on codes on Page 82)


Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Body Condition Scoring (BCS) for Beef Cattle

(Richards et al., 1986. J. Anim. Sci. 62:300.)

Condition BCS Description

1: Emaciated – The cow is extremely emaciated, with no palpable fat detectable over the spinous processes, transverse processes, hip bones or ribs. The tail head and ribs project quite prominently.

2: Poor – The cow still appears somewhat emaciated but the tail head and ribs are less prominent. Individual spinous processes still are rather sharp to the touch, but some tissue cover exists over the dorsal portion of the ribs.

3: Thin – Ribs still are individually identifiable but not quite as sharp to the touch. Obvious palpable fat is along the spine and over the tail head, with some tissue cover over the dorsal portion of the ribs.

4: Borderline – Individual ribs no longer are visually obvious. The spinous processes can be identified individually on palpation but feel rounded rather than sharp. Some fat cover is over the ribs, transverse processes and hip bones.


5: Moderate – The cow has a generally good overall appearance. On palpation, the fat cover over the ribs feels spongy and areas on either side of the tail head have palpable fat cover.

6: High moderate – Firm pressure needs to be applied to feel the spinous processes. A high degree of fat is palpable over the ribs and around the tail head.


7: Good – The cow appears fleshy and obviously carries considerable fat. Very spongy fat cover is over the ribs and around the tail head. In fact, “rounds” or “pones” are beginning to be obvious. Some fat is around the vulva and in the crotch.

8: Fat – The cow very fleshy and over-conditioned. Spinous processes are almost impossible to palpate. The cow has large fat deposits over the ribs, around the tail head and below the vulva. “Rounds” or “pones” are obvious.

9: Extremely fat – The cow is obviously extremely wasty and patchy and looks blocky. The tail head and hips are buried in fatty tissue and “rounds” or “pones” of fat are protruding. Bone structure no longer is visible and barely palpable. The animal’s mobility even might be impaired by large fatty deposits.

Body Condition Scoring (BCS)

Body Condition Scoring (BCS)


  1. Look at last two ribs
    Visible: <5
    Not visible: ≥ 5
  2. Spine
    Visible: ≤ 3
  3. Shape between hooks and pins (thurl)Shallow U: BCS 6
    Strong U: BCS 5
    V Shape: BCS 4
    Strong V: BCS 3
    Very Strong V: BCS 2

U.S. Beef Body Condition Scores: Range from 1-9

  • BCS 1: Starved
  • BCS 9: Obese

A Look at BCS-Cows

3-Step Body Condition Scoring (BCS) Guide for Range Cattle (B-1294), Scasta, et al, 2016, University of Wyoming Extension. http://www.wyoextension.org/publications/html/B1294


Last two ribs visible: BCS <5

Spine visible: BCS ≤3

Shape between hooks and pins is strong V: BCS 3




Last two ribs visible: BCS <5

Spine not visible: BCS >3

Shape between hooks and pins is V: BCS 4




Last two ribs not visible: BCS ≥5

Spine not visible: BCS >3

Shape between hooks and pins is strong U: BCS 5



BCS 6+
BCS 6+

Last two ribs not visible: BCS ≥5

Spine not visible: BCS >3

Shape between hooks and pins is very shallow or flat U: BCS ≥6

Gestation Table

Estimated calving date (283 days)

Breed Date Calf Date

Jan. 1/Oct. 11
Jan. 9/Oct. 19
Jan. 17/Oct. 27
Jan. 25/Nov. 4
Feb. 2/Nov. 12
Feb. 10/Nov. 20
Feb. 18/Nov. 28
Feb. 26/Dec. 6
March 6/Dec. 14
March 14/Dec. 22
March 22/Dec. 30
March 30/Jan. 7
April 7/Jan. 15
April 15/Jan. 23
April 23/Jan. 31
May 1/Feb. 8
May 9/Feb. 16
May 17/Feb. 24
May 25/March 4
June 2/March 12
June 10/March 20
June 18/March 28
June 26/April 5
July 4/April 13
July 12/April 21
July 20/April 29
July 28/May 7
Aug. 5/May 15
Aug. 13/May 23
Aug. 21/May 31
Aug. 29/June 8
Sept. 6/June 16
Sept. 14/June 24
Sept. 22/July 2
Sept. 30/July 10
Oct. 8/July 18
Oct. 16/July 26
Oct. 24/Aug. 3
Nov. 1/Aug. 11
Nov. 9/Aug. 19
Nov. 17/Aug. 27
Nov. 25/Sept. 4
Dec. 3/Sept. 12
Dec. 11/Sept. 20
Dec. 19/Sept. 28
Dec. 27/Oct. 6

*Leap years: If the breed date is between May 22 (prior to leap year) and Feb. 28 (leap year), then subtract one day from calf date. Use www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html to verify the calf date by adding 283 days to the breed date for specific years.

Local Extension Assistance Available

Extension QR Code

North Dakota State University Extension has a network of beef professionals available for all counties in North Dakota.

If you have questions about beef production, your local Extension agent is available to assist you or put you in touch with people knowledgeable about issues such as electronic identification, range management, cropping systems and waste management.

Also contact your local Extension agent for additional calving books. A complete listing of Extension agents is at www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/ag-home/directory.




A Management Tool That Helps Beef Producers Connect With All Segments of the Beef Industry!

Agriculture Communication Distribution Center

NDSU Dept. 7070

PO Box 6050

Fargo ND 58108-6050

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2M-6-20; 1M-12-22