NALF Calls Attention to Teat, Udder Scoring

As fall calving begins, the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) encourages its members to score their cows’ teat sizes and udder suspensions so the data can help guide future selection decisions.

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has standardized guidelines for teat and udder scoring. The system requires a separate score for each, both on 9-point scales. Breeders should evaluate their cows within 24 hours after calving, and NALF has illustrations available to help them assign scores. Refer to the “Genetic Evaluation” section of the association’s Web site (, or call its home office at (303) 220-1693.

Teat scores range from 9 (very small) to 1 (very large and balloon-shaped). They are subjective assessments of teat length and circumference. In general, smaller teat sizes are more desirable. Oversized teats are difficult for newborn calves to nurse, depriving them of adequate colostrum.

Udder scores range from 9 (very tight) to 1 (very pendulous). They represent assessments of udder support. Weak udder suspension results in pendulous udders that make it difficult for a calf to nurse. It also indicates a weak supporting ligament, which might subject the udder to increased injury.

“More emphasis is being placed on monitoring teats and udders because they can affect calf performance and cow longevity,” said Lauren Hyde, Ph.D., director of performance programs for NALF, who chaired the BIF committee that proposed the scoring system.

She said NALF plans to use udder and teat scores in genetic evaluation once members submit a sufficient number of records.

The North American Limousin Foundation (, headquartered in Centennial, Colo., provides programs and services – including genetic evaluation of 5,000 active sires – to more than 4,000 members and their commercial customers. The Limousin breed and its Lim-Flex® hybrid lead the beef industry in muscle-growth efficiency and ideally complement British breeds.