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Pictorial Evaluation Tools - PETs

- Livestock - Body Condition Scoring, based on photo-indicators

Course for PET- Livestock Body Condition Scoring (based on East African livestock)


Since the 1970s, public awareness of the vulnerability of nations to food deficits has risen markedly. There is now a general understanding that food deficit is not merely a result of production failure, but is condition brought about by a series of interacting events when lowered production collides with a series of natural disasters or inappropriate policies exacerbated by conflict or poverty.

An accurate, early understanding of changes in body condition of livestock on the ranges is now recognised as an essential first step in determining Government and Agency food security support; and, range management strategies.

This course is for assessors who wish to use the Pictorial Evaluation Tool (PET- Livestock) to best advantage to improve their understanding of livestock body condition scoring, particularly for east african livestock, and rationalise their approach leading to improved accuracy and consistency at all levels.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, all participants should be able to:

  • Explain that PET is not just a manual but is an approach to assessing livestock body condition change.
  • Use PET- Livestock with confidence to improve assessments of livestock body condition throughout the year.
  • Explain how PET- Livestock may be incorporated into regular assessments of livestock and ranges.
  • Explain how PET- Livestock may be incorporated into range, herd and flock management.
  • Describe the limitations of the PET approach.
  • Show others how to use PET- Livestock.


The PET- Livestock Course is designed to give trainees practical instruction and field experience in assessing body condition of domestic livestock, using body condition scoring.

Those trainees demonstrating confident use of the PET approach during the course; and being able to answer a series of related questions, at the end of the course, to the satisfaction of the instructors, will be issued with a PET- Livestock Assessor's Certificate.

The course is divided into five modules delivered over a period of 4 days.

Day 1


Module 1 - Introduction to the course.

Module 2 - Introduction to food security and livestock body condition assessing.

Module 3 - Introduction to PET- Livestock   -  structure and content.

Day 2

Module 4 - PET- Livestock   -  application.

Practical - Livestock field assessing - transects, assessing herds and flocks from vehicle, and on foot.

Day 3

Module 4 - PET- Livestock   -  application

Practical - Livestock field assessing - transects, assessing herds and flocks from vehicle, and on foot.

Practical - Forage and browse - transects, assessing ranges, cross-check sampling, sample handling, drying to constant weight, recording, field calculations.

Day 4

Module 5 - Conclusions, reviews of performance, issuing certificates.

Module 1: Introduction to Course

The goal of the first module is to provide an overview of the course and introduce the participants and the trainers.

By the end of this module trainees should be able to:-

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the purpose of the course.
  • Describe the structure of the course.
  • Explain the value of practical exercises.
  • Discuss the expectations of other participants and trainers.


1.1 Introduction of Trainers and Participants.  The trainers introduce themselves and describe their qualifications. Participants introduce themselves in plenary session, giving their organization, position and experience.

1.2 Discussion of Participant Expectations. Each participant describes briefly his or her expectations for the course without going into detail  i.e. What do I want to learn from this training?

1.3 Overview of Course.  An overview of the objectives of the course, the course structure and the topics to be covered. Core concepts to be discussed during the training. The purpose of the practical elements. Code of practice during the course.

1.4 Quiz 1.  Completion of initial short quiz.

Module 2: Introduction to Food Security and Livestock Assessing

The goal of the second module is to review the basic concepts and terminology with regard to livestock and range assessments.

By the end of this module trainees should be able to:-

  • Define food security as the household's ability to secure access at all times to sufficient food for a healthy life without jeopardising future supply.
  • Explain the value of rapid assessments to policy implementers is connected to the "rapidity" element- concept of optimum levels of accuracy (OLA).
  • Explain the contribution of livestock production to food security.
  • Outline production systems and the components of animal performance .
  • Describe the constitution of livestock/range assessments .
  • Identify useful indicators of performance as body condition change.
  • Explain the need for standard operating procedures in assessments .


2.1 Food security  definitions and meaning - establishment and maintenance of an enabling environment to improve both production, availability and access to adequate levels of food that constitute a balanced diet for all members of all households, without prejudicing food for future generations. Each participant describes briefly his or her understanding - giving examples including the related concepts of access, sufficiency, security and sustainability.

2.2 Support strategies at national, state, district and household level.

2.3 Livestock assessing.  Purpose and history of livestock assessing in crop and food supply and other assessments. Introduce and explain livestock production systems - inputs/ outputs. Factors determining enterprise performance, production indicators, bench marks. Introduce terms - carrying capacity, stocking rates, stocking density. Relationships of performance with body condition. Importance of monitoring change in body condition.

2.4 Implementation. Appropriate skills and instruments to conduct body condition change, level of rigour, credibility and acceptability of findings. Timing of field work, writing and reporting.

Module 3: PET-Livestock; Structure and Content

The goal of the third module is to review the basic concepts and terminology with body condition and range monitoring.

By the end of this module trainees should be able to:-

  • Describe the purpose of PET and its application in the context of assessments, baseline and endline surveys of projects.
  • Explain that PET is an objective approach, which begins with no assumptions.
  • Explain that PET- Livestock is a measure with values, not a prescriptive catalogue.


3.1 PET structure.  Overview of the rubric and photo-indicators.

3.2 PET content.  Explanation of each of the seven steps. Explanation of the photo-indicators. Explanation of the annexes.

Module 4: PET-Livestock; It's application and use

The goal of the fourth module is to prepare the trainees to use the PET approach and to use PET manuals properly in the practical repetitions that should take several days of field work.

By the end of this module trainees should be able to:-

  • Describe the five steps of application.
  • Choose the steps to follow to suit the field and the circumstances.
  • Explain each of the photo-indicators.
  • Describe the purpose of walking and vehicle transects.


4.1 PET- Livestock. Detailed review of each step; practise use of manual, recording and analysis of body condition scores. Field work and repetitions; establishing daily and evening routines.

4.2 PET- Forages. Detailed review of each step; practise use of manual, transects, observations, site selection sampling- labelling, weighing- recording. Field work and repetitions; Introduction to point-to-plant; browse calculator.

4.3 PET- Forages. Sample temporary storage, drying, weighing to constant weight. Calculating yields for homogenous and heterogeneous fields.

Module 5: Conclusion- Review results obtained and review of performance of trainees

The goal of the fifth module is to review the performance of the trainees and identify lessons learnt from using PET- Livestock over the 3 day period.

By the end of this module trainees should be able to:-

  • Use PET- Livestock to good effect.
  • Explain how the PET approach differs from current assessment methods.
  • Describe the limitations of the PET system.
  • Satisfactorily complete a simple test exhibiting assessing competence.


5.1 Presentations - Transects. Each trainee reports on their process and presents their transects and associated findings.

5.2 Presentations - Samples. Each trainee presents their process, the samples, the weighings and associated calculations.

5.3 Presentations - Each trainee presents their body score and yield estimates.

5.4 Quiz 2 - Each individual trainee answers a short series of questions relating to assessing.

Presentation of Certificates

PET- Livestock Assessor's Certificate

Back to Pictorial Evaluation Tool
PET-Livestock Course Photographs



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