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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #398947

Research Project: Environmental and Management Influences on Animal Productivity and Well-Being Phenotypes

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Infrared thermography as an alternative technique for measuring body temperature in cattle

item HOFFMAN, ASHLEY - Texas Tech University
item LONG, NATE - Texas Tech University
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Sanchez, Nicole
item Broadway, Paul
item RICHESON, JOHN - West Texas A & M University
item JACKSON, TREYLR - West Texas A & M University
item HALE, KRISTEN - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Applied Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2023
Publication Date: 3/28/2023
Citation: Hoffman, A.A., Long, N.S., Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Broadway, P.R., Richeson, J.T., Jackson, T.C., Hale, K.E. 2023. Infrared thermography as an alternative technique for measuring body temperature in cattle. Applied Animal Science. 39(2):94-98.

Interpretive Summary: Body temperature (BT) is often used to evaluate the health status of cattle and assist in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The most common method for measuring BT in cattle production is rectal temperature (RT), as it is relatively simple and inexpensive compared to alternative methods. However, measuring RT can produce inaccurate results that are difficult to interpret, as it is time consuming and invasive, thus creating additional stress on the animal. Automation of physiological measures in livestock is important for scientist and producers. When phenotypic data can be collected in real-time using automation, it decreases the need for skilled labor. Infrared thermography (INFRA) is a non-invasive technology that can detect deviations in an animal’s surface body temperature because of changes in blood flow and resulting heat distribution from the surface of the animal. Changes in body temperature, detected as variations in surface temperature of the animal, could be related to the health of animals. Therefore, scientists from Texas Tech University and ARS' Livestock Issues Research Unit collaborated on a study to evaluate the use of INFRA as an alternative for monitoring body temperature. Results suggest that INFRA may be an advantageous alternative to RT measurements in cattle, but further research is needed to optimize the use of this technique. This data will be of interest to beef feedlot producers, veterinarians, and beef cattle scientists.

Technical Abstract: The objective of the current experiment was to evaluate the use of infrared thermography as an alternative to rectal temperature for monitoring body temperature in 31 steers. An Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was administered to 31 steers (initial BW 295.8 ± 46.5 kg) via intravenous injection to produce a febrile response. Each steer was fitted with an indwelling rectal probe to monitor changes in RT in 30-min intervals. Thermal temperatures (INFRA) were collected in 30-min increments beginning at h 0.5 to 1.5, h 2.5 to 3.5, and h 4.5 to 5.5. Additionally, temperatures were collected in 60-min increments beginning at h -1.5 to -0.5 and h 6.5 to 12.5. Relative to LPS administration, thermal temperatures were subsequently recorded at h 18.5, 24.5, 36.5, and 47.5. Correlation analyses were conducted using PROC CORR where Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients were evaluated between the RT and INFRA. Additionally, RT and INFRA were analyzed using PROC MIXED where the model included temperature measurement method (RT or INFRA), hour, and the interaction of method × hour. Steer within temperature measurement method was included as a random effect and was the subject of the repeated measures. Increases in RT and INFRA were evident within 1 h of the LPS administration, both methods confirming an induced febrile response. Rectal temperature and INFRA at each time point generally did not differ (P > 0.16), however the two methods differed at h -0.5, 0.5, 1.5, 5.5, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 18.5, 24.5, 36.5, and 47.5 (P < 0.01). Temperatures between each method diverged 8.5 h after LPS was given. A Pearson correlation of 0.71 (P < 0.01) was noted between RT and temperature of the eye measured using INFRA. Likewise, a Spearman correlation of 0.66 (P < 0.01) was noted between RT and INFRA measurements. Infrared imaging is non-invasive, quick to perform, and decreases additional stressors caused by handling and restraint of the animal. These data suggest that INFRA may be an advantageous alternative to RT measurements in cattle, but further research is necessary is warranted.