Core body temperature (CBT) is one of the main vital signs that is used to evaluate the health status of pigs. The most common and feasible method for assessing CBT in pigs is rectal temperature (RT). Obtaining RT is stressful for animals, may generate inaccurate results, and has the risk of spreading disease. Infrared imaging (IR) thermography of the body of pigs may be a safer and less stressful alternative to RT. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of using IR as an alternative for monitoring CBT in pigs. Twenty-three gilts (30.5 ± 5.62 kg BW) were housed in metabolism crates in an environmentally controlled facility and fed an 860 g/d grower diet. After 4 d of adaptation, the febrile response was induced by intramuscular injection of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 25 µg/kg BW). Each pig’s body temperature was recorded at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 24 h after LPS challenge using the following 3 methods: 1) RT, 2) IR of the eye and ear, and 3) CBT using an orally administered digital temperature sensor. Statistical analysis was performed in a completely randomized design in SAS using Mixed, Correlation, and Regression procedures. Relative to time 0 h, LPS increased the eye temperature, CBT, and RT by 0.92, 1.32, and 1.48°C, respectively (P < 0.01), but had no significant effect on ear temperature. Eye temperature, RT, and CBT, but not ear temperature, were highly correlated (r ≥ 0.96) during the course of the study (P < 0.01). Estimated regression parameters (α and β) for predicting CBT using eye temperature were -28.2 ± 8.70 and 1.76 ± 0.221, respectively, and for RT were -24.5 ± 7.69 and 1.65 ± 0.196, respectively (R2 ≥ 0.96; 95% confidence interval). Collectively, these results indicated a strong relationship between eye temperature, RT, and CBT in pigs. Therefore, IR of the eye can be used as a precise, noncontact alternative to RT measurements for monitoring CBT in swine.
- Core body temperature
- Eye temperature