Classification System

Functional conformation for increased lifetime profitability

Holstein Australia utilises the internationally-recognised Linear Evaluation Technique to provide an objective, consistent and accurate method of conformation assessment. It uses a sliding scale of 1 to 9 to measure each trait, with a score of 5 representing the intermediate position of the two biological extremes.

Professional classifiers carefully assess each trait and enter the score on a handheld computer. Several traits are objectively measured from defined reference points on the cow. The handheld computer automatically adjusts these measurements according to the cow's age, days in milk and the hours of milk in the udder.

In 2007 Holstein Australia introduced Canadian multi-breed classification software to Australia. This system compiles the 22 traits into four composite scores: Mammary System, Feet and Legs, Dairy Strength and Rump. The four composite scores are then combined to calculate an overall conformation score out of 100, with each composite weighted according to its significance in predicting productivity and longevity, and thus lifetime profitability.

Cows are then assigned a classification according to their final score:

  • Excellent (90+ points)
  • Very Good (85–89 points)
  • Good Plus (80–84 points)
  • Good (75–79 points) 

The administration of the classification scheme is supervised by the Holstein Australia Breed Development and Conformation Committee. This committee monitors trends within the breed and adjusts trait weightings for desirable or undesirable attributes.


          Rump (10%)

    • Well-sloped, wide and strongly anchored to back/vertebrae
    • Impacts position of reproductive tract to be held high within abdominal cavity
    • Improved fertility
    • Better calving ease and healthy recovery following calving

          Dairy Strength (25%)

    • Well-sprung, open ribs with adequate width
    • Adequate capacity for the consumption of a high forage diet
    • Sustains proper body condition with high milk output
    • Healthier cow with room for vital organs to operate

          Mammary System (40%)

    • Soft, high, wide and strongly attached, with good teat length and placement
    • Healthy udders that are resistant to breakdown
    • Easy to milk with effective milk let-down and milk-out
    • Capacious udders for high milk volumes
    • Ligament strength and udder attachment to keep udder free from contamination

          Feet and Legs (25%)

    • Widely placed legs, intermediate curvature, and a steep foot with a deep heel
    • Greater resistance to lameness and foot diseases
    • Straight-tracking locomotion with ample freedom of movement
    • Mobility to get from paddock to dairy


    Acknowledgement: Holstein Canada