Environmental effect on surface temperature of newborn piglets
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The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of the environment on the surface temperature (ST) of neonate piglets. Thermography images of the piglets (n=45) and the floor of the farrowing crates were recorded at the moment of birth and at 15, 30, 45, 60, 120 and 180 minutes after birth. The temperature and relative humidity were recorded and, later, the Temperature and Humidity Index (THI) was calculated. The piglets' ST data and THI were subjected to the Spearman correlation test at 5% significance. The average air temperature in the maternity room ranged from 26.3 to 32.5°C and the relative humidity was from 34.3% to 47%. The average floor ST ranged between 24 and 28°C. Given that heat loss in piglets is normally caused by conduction, management practices are very important to minimise heat exchange between neonates and floor. The THI showed a negative correlation (P < 0.01) with ST at birth (-0.824), and after 15 minutes (-0.815). It proves that the environment has a direct influence on the piglets' body temperature. The THI values were mostly below the range that is considered comfortable for newborn piglets but more than comfortable for lactating sows, and were negatively correlated with the piglets' surface temperature during the first hours after birth.