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Article

Suitability of Different Thermometers for Measuring Body Core and Skin Temperatures in Suckling Piglets

1
Institute of Animal Science, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
2
Institute of Agricultural Engineering, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul Koene
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1004; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041004
Received: 18 February 2021 / Revised: 30 March 2021 / Accepted: 31 March 2021 / Published: 2 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
After birth, piglets’ temperatures usually drop some degrees because of low ambient temperatures in the stable. Piglets have no ability to increase their body temperatures during their first days of life, which can cause health issues if piglets are not appropriately cared for. Monitoring temperatures can, therefore, contribute to reducing impaired wellbeing and unnecessary losses. The most common method for assessing core temperatures is measuring rectally with a digital thermometer. This, however, takes time and requires securing of the animal, which is stressful. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether other thermometers or thermometric devices, such as an infrared camera, can deliver results similar to the digital thermometer. For the measurements in newborn piglets, infrared ear thermometers, infrared forehead thermometers, and infrared laser thermometers were used, as it was assumed that these would deliver results fast and cause little distress in piglets. The results were compared to rectally measured temperatures and it was found that the temperatures measured in-ear correspond to a great extent to rectal temperatures and show little variation between measurements, while the other used devices can only give a rough estimate of the actual core temperatures.
Monitoring the temperature of piglets after birth is critical to ensure their well-being. Rectal temperature measurement is time-consuming, requires fixation of the animal and is stressful for piglets. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of infrared thermometry and thermography as compared to rectal temperatures. We investigated digital thermometers for rectal measurements, infrared ear thermometers, infrared forehead thermometers, infrared laser thermometers and an infrared camera during field trials with piglets aged 1–13 days. Temperatures differed between the left and right ear and ear base (p < 0.01), but not between temples. Three forehead and laser devices yielded different temperatures (p < 0.01). Temperatures assessed with a laser thermometer decreased with distance from the target (p < 0.01). The highest correlation observed was between the rectal and tympanic temperatures (r = 0.89; p < 0.01). For temperatures assessed with the camera, inner thigh and abdomen correlated most closely to core temperature (0.60 ≤ r ≤ 0.62; p < 0.01). Results indicate that infrared ear thermometry commonly used in humans is also suited for assessing temperature in piglets. The inner thigh and abdomen seem promising locations for estimating core temperature with an infrared camera, but this approach needs to be adapted to reduce time exposure and stress for the piglets to be used under practical conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: core temperature; infrared thermography; infrared thermometry; suckling piglet; surface temperature; tympanic membrane temperature core temperature; infrared thermography; infrared thermometry; suckling piglet; surface temperature; tympanic membrane temperature
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmid, S.M.; Büscher, W.; Steinhoff-Wagner, J. Suitability of Different Thermometers for Measuring Body Core and Skin Temperatures in Suckling Piglets. Animals 2021, 11, 1004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041004

AMA Style

Schmid SM, Büscher W, Steinhoff-Wagner J. Suitability of Different Thermometers for Measuring Body Core and Skin Temperatures in Suckling Piglets. Animals. 2021; 11(4):1004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041004

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmid, Simone M., Wolfgang Büscher, and Julia Steinhoff-Wagner. 2021. "Suitability of Different Thermometers for Measuring Body Core and Skin Temperatures in Suckling Piglets" Animals 11, no. 4: 1004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041004

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