The classification service is an independent, unbiased analysis of an animal’s conformation. The classifier individually inspects each animal and with the use of a special hand-held computer assigns a score to that animal that best describes its overall conformation. This classification score attaches to the ancestry of the animal on the pedigree certificate, populating the background and  which builds value over time. Trends in the animal’s conformation can be seen at a glance on the three generation pedigree zootechnical certificate  

Benefits of Classifying 
Conformation Service 
 Independent linear-based assessment 
Online Classification Report

Benefits of Classifying 

The IHFA breeding goal is to breed profitable cows that are long living and durable that suit the dairy farmers system.  To help achieve this aim IHFA provides a Classification service to its members and all dairy farmers through Linear Scoring of daughters of all bulls and cows. This helps with breeding decisions as it identifies bulls with the biological diversity to suit all systems.   IHFA’s team of trained, professional classifiers evaluate 22 individual traits across 4 major body structures; udder, rump, legs & feet and dairy strength. 

  • Classification provides an independent unbiased analysis of an animal’s conformation. 
  • Classification enhances breeding and marketing decisions. 
  • Classification increases cow values. 
  • Classification improves herd quality. 

Conformation Service 

Linear scoring which takes place simultaneously provide conformation service to all dairy farmers, through Linear Scoring of daughters of AI bulls and cows. This helps with breeding decisions, as it identifies bulls with the biological diversity to suit all systems. 

Independent linear-based assessment 

  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses 
  • Identifies herd trends 
  • Builds profile for cow families 
  • Data aids towards herd management 

Identification of Linear Traits 

The linear score used in bull proofs is the guide to breed genetic variation, which makes the breed adaptable to all dairy farming systems. All first lactation females must be linear scored as part of the classification inspection service.  The necessity for long-lasting trouble-free cows is always vital in profitable milk production. Linear scoring and conformation classification plays an important role in achieving this. Linear assessment is the first method.  It describes the animal in terms of the biological extremes on a scale of 1 – 9. It doesn’t necessarily mean if it is 1 it is good and 9 bad or vice versa i.e. on leg set side view 1 would be straight and 9 would be sickled.  Therefore 5 is desired. Linear traits are used in bull proofs and to avoid bias all heifers should be assessed. 

In addition, there is conformation classification where the cows are scored from 50 points to a maximum of 97 points on any of the five main breed traits.  Legs and feet, rump, dairy strength, frame and mammary are assessed.  Cows / heifers can be scored in 6 grades, namely: 

Excellent – EX 90 – 97 points  | Very Good – VG 85 – 89 points  | Good plus – GP 80 – 84 points  | Good – G 75 – 79 points 

Fair – F 65 – 74 points  | Poor – P Below 65 

For a cow to be scored EX she must be in her second lactation or greater. 

Online Classification Report 

A detailed classification report is generated specifying the linear score data, composite score data and final conformation score. A separate report is generated for first lactation animals. A breeder can then inform subsequent breeding and management decisions based on the data generated by these reports.  

Conformation Breakdown 

Conformation scores designed to describe the structure of the cow. 

Points as a percentage of the final score are allotted as follows: – 

40% Mammary, 28% Legs & Feet, 12% Body, 10% Rump, 10% Dairy Strength 

Maximum score for cows with 4 calves or more EX97 

Maximum score for cows with 3 calves EX93 

Maximum score for cows with 2 calves EX90 

Maximum score for cows with 1 calf VG89 

EX90 2E 5YR – explained 

EX90 (Meaning animal was classified EX90) 

EX90 2E (Meaning animal was classified EX90 a second time during a subsequent lactation) 

EX90 2E 5YR (Meaning animal was classified EX90 a second time during a subsequent lactation and was 5 years old at that point) 



The classification service is an independent, unbiased analysis of an animal’s conformation.​​ At the end of each year, IHFA publishes a list of the previous year’s classified animals. The following are

Multi EX, EX & VG Classifications from 01.01.2021 to 31.12.2021

Parities will not be correct if your AIMS was not updated at time of classification.

See below for a full list of the current annual Classifications.

Classification Listings

2021 |  2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Frequently Asked Questions
Classification – What’s involved?

Classification adds value. The classification score attaches to the ancestry of the animal on the pedigree certificate, populating the background and builds value over time as the trend in conformation can be seen at a glance. Every breeder strives for straight three generation EX. 

When should we classify?

On attaining pedigree status, you should consider assessing conformation of your herd. You get detailed information from the classification reports on each animal. The classifiers talk you through each and every animal, letting you know the strength and weakness of their conformation. All heifers have to be scored as their information goes into the bull proofs.  

What do we get back?

You get a number of reports, detailing every animal scored, showing the animals strengths and weaknesses.   

The Dairy Cow Report (DCR) identifies four key traits and gives a comparison within herds and across herds comparing the trait with breed average. The primary traits identified are overall Mammary, Feet & Legs and Dairy strength. Also, the classifier as an independent and objective professional can spot faults and strengths in the herd, sometimes before the member sees it. The animal value will also increase for cow selling or for disease valuation.

Should we clip and wash the animals for classification?

No. Animals are to be presented in their natural state. 

Are my cows good enough?

Yes. What we look for is farmer-friendly, profitable milk cows. 

We’re spring calving – is there a benefit to classifying in the autumn?

Again, we hear this a lot, but actually classifying as often as possible is good for a number of reasons. It gives your animal every chance to achieve the optimum score for that lactation. 

We’re having a sale, we’ve never classified – should we?

Always – it’s a great marketing tool as it lets auctioneers and potential customers for your sale see what you’ve got at a glance.  

Do you classify every animal at every inspection?

All first lactation animals must be scored. The breeder has the option of the number of mature animals to present. Animals can be scored many times in their lifetime but animals can never be down scored. The best score they achieve in their lifetime will always remain.  

Sire Advice - What bulls should I use?

We can offer independent sire advice based on the IHFA Bull List and recommend a panel of bulls that will help improve the weakest trait identified on a herd or individual animal basis.  

Read more about Classification here 


IHFA Classifiers
Paul Boal

Paul Boal

John Kirby

John Kirby

Grade Up Officer/Classifier

Tel.: 086 1702040