Type Classification

Why Breed for Conformation?

The importance of breeding cows of good conformation has never been greater, as modern production systems impose stringent demands on the dairy cow. Both milk buyers and the general public find conformation defects increasingly unacceptable and dairy farmers themselves are becoming more aware that cows of better type produce more easily and for longer.

The Type Classification programme accentuates economically important conformation traits that influence a cow's ability to withstand modern production and management practices.

The modern dairy cow needs good functional traits: a well-supported udder with strong central ligament, correctly set legs with good foot angle and the general constitution to cope with life on a modern dairy farm.

View the classification factsheet here

View classification fees here

The service offers its users two key advantages:

  1. It provides an independent assessment of every cow in the herd.
  2. It provides a final score for the your heifers and cows, which can substantially increase their value.

The system is appropriate to every type of farming system and currently evaluates over 100,000 animals every year.

NBDC classifiers operate an internationally recognised appraisal system which is used by the AI industry in the British Isles to provide reliable type proofs.

The system has two basic components:

Linear Assessment

Linear assessment involves the measurement of 21 individual traits on a scale of                 1-9, describing the degree of the trait rather than its desirability. The traits are as follows:

Composite Linear Breakdown
 Body Conformation (15%)  Stature
   Body Depth
   Rump Angle 
   Rump Width
 Dairy Strength (15%)  Chest Width
   Angularity/Breed Character
 Legs & Feet (30%)  Rear Legs, Side View
   Rear Leg, Rear View
   Bone Quality
   Foot Angle
 Mammary (40%)  Fore Attachment
   Rear Udder Height
   Rear Udder Width
   Central Ligament
   Udder Depth
   Udder Texture
   Front Teat Placment
   Rear Teat Placement
   Teat Length
   Teat Position
 Management Traits  Temperament
   Milking Speed
   Condition Score

For further infromation please view the Guide to Type Classification



Classification involves the appraisal of an animals in comparison to the ideal. An overall score and grade are awarded, according to the following scale:

Final Linear Score Final Grade
 90+  Excellent (EX)
 85-89  Very Good (VG)
 80-84  Good Plus (GP)
 75-79  Good (G)
 65-74  Fair (F)
 50-64  Poor (P)

A similar score and grade are awarded to each of the four areas of the cow – body conformation, dairy character, legs & feet and mammary – and it is from each of these four assessments that the final score and grade is calculated.

The NBDC Classification Team assess 18 breeds of cattle across the UK and Channel Islands. The below table shows all the breeds currently participating in the Type Classification Scheme. If you are interested in classifiying you herd please use the contact numbers at the bottom of the page.

Dairy Breeds Beef Breeds
 Ayrshire  Beef Shorthorn
 British Friesian  Dexter
 Brown Swiss  Gloucester 
 Dairy Shorthorn  Irish Moiled
 Guernsey Island  Longhorn
 Guernsey UK  Simmentals
Holstein South Devons
Jersey Island Welsh Black
Jersey UK  

There are several forms of the service, one to suit each breed – Ayrshire, British Friesian, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Shorthorn. In each case, the service offers the potential to substantially increase the value of your herd and for some, opens up services such as:

If you would like further information or to book an appointment, for Ayrshires, please call the Ayrshire Society and NBDC for all other breeds:


  • Westburn House McNee Road
  • South Ayrshire
  • KA9 2PB
  • United Kingdom
  • Speir House
  • Stafford Park 1
  • Telford
  • Shropshire
  • TF3 3BD



The Breeding Toolbox encorporates useful tools to aid with informed breeding decisions. Capitilising on years of experience within the industry, these NBDC tools have been designed to aid with the increased efficiency of day to day on farm activities. These tools encompass elements of management, education, breeding and benchmarking, resulting in a rounded support package for users. 

Please click on the links below to explore each of the breeding tools.