Effects of physiological stage and season on infrared thermograms of different body areas of dairy cows raised under tropical conditions
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The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of season and pregnancy stage on the temperature of various body areas of Holstein cows using digital infrared thermography, an effective and non-invasive technique. The temperature was recorded at several areas of the body surface to determine the most reliable body area for measurement of rectal temperature in pregnant and non-pregnant animals. Holstein cows (n = 24) were divided into groups according to their physiological stage. The experimental period was 365 days, containing a dry (April-September) and rainy (October-March) season, with parameters measured every 28 days. Thermographic data for different body areas, rectal thermometry, ultrasonography, and climatic data were collected between 7:00 and 9:00. Thermogram-recorded temperatures significantly differed (P < 0.05) between seasons and reproductive phases. Moreover, significant differences were noted between the temperatures of the flank, lateral udder, and perineal areas across seasons (P < 0.05). The udder, perineal, and rectal temperatures differed according to the reproductive phase (P < 0.05). Significant correlations (P < 0.01) were observed between reproductive phases and rectal, ocular globe, snout, flank, and perineum temperature. The body areas examined by thermographic imaging presented different temperatures, exhibiting physiological variation. Season and physiological stage influenced the temperature of body areas of milk cows.