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The Applicability of Thermography During the Breeding Season and Early Nursing in Farmed Fallow Deer

  • Witold Stefanski Institute of Parasitology Polish Academy of Sciences

Abstract and Figures

To get to know the health condition of cer-vids often requires the use of other diagnostic methods than those used in other farm animals. The aim of this study was to determine the applicability of thermal imaging in different stages of the breeding season and during early nursing in farmed fallow deer does and fawns. The study was carried out at a cervids farm in northeastern Poland, where around 200 fallow deer are kept. A ThermoPro TP8 thermographic camera was used. The results of the study demonstrated that thermal imaging supports oestrus detection, but with significant limitations. Thermal imaging does not support early pregnancy detection in fallow deer. Temperature differentials between the examined body parts are reliable indicators of pregnancy only in the last trimester when foetal development is most rapid. Thermal imaging is a potentially useful non-invasive method for studying lactation in cervids, and can be applied to monitor lactation stages in farmed cervids, but only those that are tamed. This method is also potentially useful for localis-ing hiding fawns in farms, but only when the observations are carried out at a distance of up to 20 m.
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Vol. 16, No.2, 2018 • Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.
KEY WORDS: breeding season,
Dama dama, deer farming, fallow deer,
To get to know the health condition of cer-
vids often requires the use of other diagnos-
tic methods than those used in other farm
animals. The aim of this study was to deter-
mine the applicability of thermal imaging in
different stages of the breeding season and
during early nursing in farmed fallow deer
does and fawns. The study was carried out
at a cervids farm in north-eastern Poland,
where around 200 fallow deer are kept. A
ThermoPro TP8 thermographic camera was
The results of the study demonstrated
that thermal imaging supports oestrus
detection, but with signicant limitations.
Thermal imaging does not support early
pregnancy detection in fallow deer. Tem-
perature differentials between the examined
body parts are reliable indicators of preg-
nancy only in the last trimester when foetal
development is most rapid. Thermal imaging
is a potentially useful non-invasive method
for studying lactation in cervids, and can be
applied to monitor lactation stages in farmed
cervids, but only those that are tamed. This
method is also potentially useful for localis-
ing hiding fawns in farms, but only when the
observations are carried out at a distance of
up to 20 m.
In farmed and wild animals, thermal imag-
ing is used to diagnose disorders of locomo-
tive organs16,17, in particular lameness in
horses10, 43 and dairy cattle1, 33, to detect early
signs of viral and systemic infections8, 9, 36, 37,
44 in order to assess animal welfare levels22,
40, 41, analyse the processes by which animals
regulate their body temperature21, 23, 24, 26, 39,
45, observe animal behavior18, 25, 32, 35, inves-
tigate animal responses to various treatment
regimes6, and evaluate animals raised for
meat.30 In cervids, thermal imaging meth-
ods are also applied to observe changes in
antler temperature during growth.3,5
The Applicability of Thermography During
the Breeding Season and Early Nursing in
Farmed Fallow Deer
Justyna Cilulko-Dołęga1
Paweł Janiszewski1*
Marek Bogdaszewski2
1University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn,
Department of Fur-Bearing Animal Breeding and Game Management,
Oczapowskiego 5, 10-718 Olsztyn, Poland,
2Institute of Parasitology of the Polish Academy of Sciences,
Research Station in Kosewo Górne, 11-700 Mrągowo, Poland,
*corresponding author:
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. 187
Thermal imaging systems are also used
in research studies investigating the repro-
duction of farmed and wild animals. The
physiological processes linked with oestrus,
pregnancy, spermatogenesis, and ejaculation
are energy consuming, and they require the
supply of additional nutrients and oxygen
via the bloodstream. The areas of the body
where these processes are intensied emit
heat. Thermal imaging devices measure
differences in temperature between body
organs, and can be used to control reproduc-
tive processes in farm animals.27
The aim of this study was to determine
the applicability of thermal imaging in
different stages of the breeding season and
during early nursing in farmed fallow deer
does and fawns.
The study was carried out in a cervid
farm of the Institute of Parasitology of the
Polish Academy of Sciences in Kosewo
Górne (north-eastern Poland; N: 53°48’; E:
The ThermoPro TP8 thermographic
camera, a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR)
device with an uncooled FPA microbo-
lometer array, 384x288 pixels, 35 µm, was
used. The camera had thermal sensitivity of
0.08°C to 30°C and measurement accuracy
of 1±°C or ±1%. Emissivity was set at
ε=0.98, which corresponds to
the emissivity of bare skin or
skin covered with dry fur.2, 25
Images were also acquired with
the use of the Canon EOS 550D
digital camera for comparison
with thermal images, which
is a recommended procedure
in thermal imaging.27 Thermal
images were analysed in the
Guide IR Analyser programme
(v. 2010-04-05).
The results were used to
determine the applicability of
thermal imaging for detecting
oestrus and pregnancy, moni-
toring lactation and localising
hidden fawns.
Oestrus Detection
The applicability of thermal imaging
for oestrus detection was evaluated on 8
November, 2011, and 17 November, 2011,
in an animal handling facility where does
were immobilised in a crush. Thermographic
measurements were performed from a dis-
tance of around 1 m from the rump. The tail
was held up during the procedure to expose
reproductive organs. The average tempera-
ture in the area of the reproductive organs
(R) (excluding the anus) and the average
temperature on the surface of the hair coat
on the rump (Z) as the control value were
measured. Measurements were performed
by ellipse tting.3, 28 Maximum and mini-
mum temperatures were indicated in each
thermogram. An exemplary thermogram is
presented in Figure 1.
Pregnancy Detection
Thermograms for pregnancy detection were
acquired regularly between 25 January and
13 July 2012, in weekly intervals on average
(a total of 14 diagnostic days). Thermal im-
ages were acquired before sunrise and after
sunset or during the day on cloudy days,
from a distance of around 1.5 m.
A total of 133 thermograms acquired
on 14 diagnostic days and depicting the
right ank of pregnant females were used
in analysis. The underbelly area (B) and
Figure 1. Thermogram of a doe’s rump acquired on 8
November 2011 (Min:T – minimum temperature, Max:T –
maximum temperature; Ravg – average temperature of the
marked area; Zavg – average temperature of the control
area on the rump).
Vol. 16, No.2, 2018 • Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.
the rump control area (Z) were marked in
thermograms by ellipse tting. The aver-
age temperature in the analysed areas was
measured (Fig. 2) using the earlier meth-
ods.3, 28 Differences in the average tempera-
tures of the underbelly and the rump from
three measurements were calculated. The
observed changes in the average underbelly
and rump temperatures were analysed in
different stages of pregnancy (different ther-
mogram dates) in view of average ambient
temperature (measured by the thermographic
camera) on the day of the measurement.3
Lactation Control
Lactation was monitored with
the use of thermograms ac-
quired between 15 May and 15
August 2012 in weekly intervals
(a total of 14 diagnostic days).
Thermograms of the rump area
were acquired before sunrise
or in the evening, when the tail
was raised to expose the repro-
ductive organs. Thermographic
measurements were performed
from a distance of 0.5-1.0 m.
A total of 153 thermograms
of the rump area acquired on
14 diagnostic days were used in
analysis. The average tem-
perature of the udder area (U)
and the rump control area (Z)
was measured (Fig. 3). Differences in the
average udder and rump temperatures from
three measurements were averaged, and the
results were analysed in view of the day of
measurement (lactation stage) and average
ambient temperature registered by the cam-
era on the day of the measurement.
Localisation of Hidden Fawns
Hidden fawns were localised with a ther-
mographic camera between 15 June and 15
August 2012, and in June 2013 and June
2014. Thermograms were acquired before
sunrise, in the evening or during the day on
cloudy days. Farm enclosures were scanned
in search of hidden fawns from a distance
of several to several dozen meters from
potential hiding sites (Fig. 4). The identied
warm spots were veried to determine the
presence of fawns in the examined locations.
Images were also acquired with the Canon
EOS 550D digital camera, and observa-
tions were performed with the use of 10x50
binoculars. The identied fawns were then
Figure 2. Thermogram of a doe’s right ank, acquired on
23 May 2012 (B avg – average temperature of the marked
underbelly area; Z avg – average temperature of the
marked rump area; Min:T – minimum temperature; Max:T
– maximum temperature).
Figure 3. Thermogram of the rump area
acquired on 8 August 2012 (W – average
temperature of the udder area; Z – average
temperature of the rump area; Min: T
minimum temperature; Max: T – maximum
Figure 4. Thermogram of a farm enclosure,
acquired on 29 June 2012, depicting a poten-
tial fawn hiding site (K) (K: T – temperature
in a potential hiding site: Min: T – minimum
temperature; Max: T – maximum temperature).
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. 189
localised with a thermographic camera.
Temperature was measured in locations
identied as potential hiding sites. The ef-
fectiveness of thermal images was compared
with digital images to determine whether
the warm spots identied in thermal images
were fawns or heated objects, such as stones
or soil.
Statistical Analysis
Thermographic data were compiled in
spreadsheet tables and analysed by calculat-
ing temperature differentials between repro-
ductive organs and the control area, and by
comparing the results with average ambient
temperature registered by the thermographic
camera on the respective measurement days.
The results were analysed statistically in the
Statistica v. 10 programme by computing a
matrix of correlations between temperatures
measured in the underbelly area and the
control area vs. ambient temperature
Oestrus Detection
Thermograms of the reproductive organs
of fallow deer does were acquired on 8
November and 17 November 2011. The dif-
ference between the average temperatures in
the area of the reproductive organs (R1, R2)
and the control area on the rump (Z1, Z2)
was greater during the second measurement
by 2.4°C on average (Table 1).
In does, an increase in the temperature
of the reproductive organs could point to
oestrus or its onset.15, 17, 19, 38, 42 In all females,
the difference between the temperature of
the reproductive organs and the control area
was greater during the second measure-
ment, which could be partially attributed to
lower ambient temperature (by 1.3°C) on
that day. The above contributed to greater
differences in the temperature of bare skin,
in particular in bodily crevices, less exposed
areas (underbelly, groin, area under the tail)
and fur-covered skin in exposed areas (back,
rump, anks, limbs).3
The results indicate that thermal imaging
supports oestrus detection in cervids, but
with certain limitations. For oestrus to be
effectively detected in farmed fallow deer,
thermal images of the reproductive organs
have to be acquired from a small distance.
Therefore, the degree of animal tameness
is a very important consideration. Ther-
mographic measurements should be per-
formed daily over a period of several days
to produce the most reliable results. For this
reason, thermal imaging can be particularly
useful in small animal farms and zoos where
the animals are relatively tame. The method
proposed in this study could also be applied
to diagnose hidden oestrus and fertility
problems in farmed does. In large cervid
farms where animals are relatively untamed,
thermographic detection of oestrus could be
more difcult for practical reasons. In such
locations, the discussed technique requires
herding, capturing and immobilization,
which could decrease the animals’ welfare
and require greater effort on behalf of farm
8 November 2011 17 November2011 Difference
R1 Z1 Difference1
Ambient R2 Z2 Difference
2 35.8 11.5 24.3 10 36.7 9.8 26.9 9.2 2.6
25A 36.6 11.1 25.5 10.3 36.3 10 26.3 9.1 0.8
27A 37 13.2 23.8 10.2 38 10.2 27.8 9 4
198 35.5 9.6 25.9 10.1 37 8.9 28.1 9.1 2.2
287 36.7 10.3 26.4 10.5 38.2 x8.7 29.5 9.3 3.1
785 36.7 10.3 26.4 11.7 37.8 9.8 28 9.1 1.6
Average - - - 10.5 - - - 9.2 2.4
Table 1. Temperature measurements performed during oestrus [°C]
Vol. 16, No.2, 2018 • Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.
Thermal imaging is a non-invasive
diagnostic method which does not compro-
mise animal welfare, therefore, it should be
researched in greater detail. Similar conclu-
sions were formulated by authors who used
thermal imaging devices to detect oestrus
in cattle,15, 19, 42 pigs,38 Asian elephants, and
black rhinoceroses.17
Pregnancy Detection
Thermal images of the anks of pregnant
and postpartum does were used to calculate
changes in temperature between the under-
belly area (B) and the control area on the
rump (Z) (Table 2). Between 25 January and
9 May, temperature differentials between the
above areas continued to increase steadily
and ranged from -1.4°C to 6.6°C. The aver-
age ambient temperature registered by the
thermographic camera in the above period
ranged from 7°C to 19°C. Temperature
differentials between the analysed areas
were greatest from 9 to 23 May, ranging
from 3.6°C to 9.2°C. The highest values
were noted on 15 May in does No. 2 and
neo3 605, and on 22 May in does No. 3 and
neo11 202. During that period, the average
ambient temperature ranged from 19°C to
20.5°C. The greatest decrease in temperature
differentials between the examined areas
was observed on 3 June, and it ranged from
-2.2°C in doe No. 3 to 3.9°C in doe No. 2.
The average ambient temperature on the
above date was 18.5°C. Between 6 and 22
June, the temperature differentials between
the underbelly and the rump ranged from
-2°C to 5.6°C. In successive weeks, the ob-
served differences in temperature were less
pronounced, ranging from 0.9°C to 3.6°C.
The average ambient temperature between
6 June and 13 July was 15.3°C to 22.3°C.
The measurements performed on 15 June
revealed that doe No. 3 had recently given
birth. The exact parturition dates of the
remaining does could not be established, but
it can be assumed that all pregnant does had
already given birth to fawns by 22 June.
The observed differences in the exam-
ined areas of the body were not correlated
with the average ambient temperature. Simi-
lar conclusions were derived from an analy-
sis of the correlation matrix. Our ndings
differ from the earlier results in whose study,
the temperature differentials between the
ank and the control area in mares increased
when ambient temperature was lower.3 It
Date of
Temperature differences (B-Z) in does Average
ambient T
2 3 neo 3605 neo 11202
25 January -1.4 N/A N/A N/A 9.9
20 March -0.4 -1.2 -1 -1.2 11.2
4 April 0.8 0.2 0.1 1.1 7.0
26 April 1.4 3.4 1.7 1.5 17.0
9 May 6.6 4.0 3.6 4.7 19.0
15 May 9.2 2.9 7.6 6.2 14.5
23 May 7.4 9.1 7.7 9.1 20.5
3 June 3.9 -2.2 3.5 1.8 18.2
6 June 3.4 1.5 2.5 2.4 15.3
15 June 3.4 -2.0 6.0 5.6 20.9
22 June 2.6 3.1 3.6 2.5 20.7
4 July 0.9 2.3 2.9 2.4 22.3
13 July N/A 2.8 2.3 2.6 20.1
Table 2. Average differences in temperature (T) between the underbelly (B) and the control
area (Z) in pregnant fallow deer does [°C].
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. 191
should also be noted that the cited authors
conducted measurements only in the last
stage of pregnancy in mares, whereas the
results presented in our study cover nearly
the entire period of pregnancy in fallow deer
does. The greatest differences in temperature
between the analysed areas were noted on
15 and 23 May, and they could be linked
to rapid foetal development. It should
be stressed that the observed increase in
temperature differentials was not correlated
with a decrease in ambient temperature.
On 9 May, when temperature differentials
between the examined areas were lower in
all does, ambient temperature was 1.5°C
lower than on 23 May when the difference
in temperature between the underbelly and
the rump exceeded 7°C.
The results indicate that temperature
differentials between the examined body
areas were greatest in the last trimester of
pregnancy (April to June) when foetal devel-
opment is most rapid (Asher 2007, Mulley
2007). After 22 June, the noted differences
in temperature were small in all does, which
could suggest that all pregnant females had
given birth to fawns by that date. The above
ndings support the conclusion that in fal-
low deer does, high temperature differentials
between the underbelly and the control area
(side of the rump) are observed during preg-
nancy, in particular in the third trimester.
Our results also indicate that thermal
vision is not a highly reliable method for
detecting early pregnancy in fallow deer.
In this animal species, the winter hair coat
effectively insulates the body. Therefore, the
temperature measured on the surface of the
body can differ from actual skin tempera-
ture in the evaluated areas. It should also be
noted than in early stages of pregnancy, foe-
tal development proceeds at a slower rate, so
the changes in temperature on the surface of
the body are less pronounced.
Lactation Control
Thermograms of the udder area were ac-
quired between 15 May and 15 August 2012,
and the average differences in temperature
between the udder area (W) and the control
area on the rump (Z) were calculated (Table
3). The correlation matrix revealed a nega-
tive non-signicant correlation between the
observed temperature differentials and ambi-
Date of
Temperature differences (W-Z) in does Average
ambient T
2 3 neo 3 605 neo 11 202
15 May 13.4 5.4 10.9 5.5 13.5
23 May 8.2 14.0 10.7 8.2 20.6
6 June 5.5 7.9 7.1 9.9 15.7
15 June 6.4 7.0 5.9 7.4 20.8
22 June 8.6 7.4 7.0 9.2 20.9
30 June 10.4 10.1 10.1 9.5 18.0
4 July 7.7 6.9 6.9 7.1 22.2
13 July 10.3 9.0 9.5 9.4 18.9
18 July 9.6 7.3 8.8 9.9 19.1
25 July 7.6 5.6 7.9 6.5 26.2
1 August 9.4 6.8 8.9 8.5 20.5
8 August 7.9 8.7 8.7 8.9 20.3
15 August 8.4 10.4 9.0 9.9 18.8
Table 3. Average differences in temperature (T) between the udder (W) and the control area
(Z) in pregnant fallow deer does [°C]
Vol. 16, No.2, 2018 • Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.
ent temperature. The above implies that the
lower the ambient temperature, the greater
the difference in temperature between the
udder and the control area. The average tem-
perature differentials between the examined
areas were determined between 5.5°C and
14°C, ranging from around 5°C to 10°C
in most cases. The greatest variations in
temperature differentials between the udder
and the control area were observed between
15 May and 6 June. In successive weeks,
until the end of the study, the differences in
temperature were less pronounced and less
varied in all does, and they were correlated
with ambient temperature. Temperature dif-
ferentials between the udder and the rump
increased steadily between 6 and 30 June.
This could be attributed to the fact that most
females had given birth during the above
period;. Therefore, the onset of lactation
could have provoked the observed increase
in udder temperature.
The inuence of ambient temperature
on temperature differentials between the
examined areas of the body, noted in our
study, is consistent with the earlier results.3
The absence of distinct variations in the
average temperature differentials in all does
could indicate that none of the evaluated
animals had suffered from mastitis or other
udder disorders that could increase surface
There is a general scarcity of published
data about mastitis in farmed cervids.
However, mastitis is unlikely to be fre-
quent in female cervids which, unlike dairy
cattle, goats, and sheep, are not milked (the
only exception are the moose farmed in
Kostroma, Russia29). The mammary gland is
thus kept injury-free, excluding the inju-
ries caused by nursing fawns. According to
observations of nursing behaviour in fallow
deer, deer does determine the duration and
frequency of sucking and allosucking.11, 24
Younger and weaker does are often reluctant
to feed non-lial fawns. Intensive lactation
can deteriorate the female’s condition before
the mating season, which can lead to fertility
problems in a given year or delayed fertil-
ization.11 These observations indicate that
does control lactation by modifying their
behaviour toward fawns.
The obtained results indicate that
thermal vision can be a potentially useful,
non-invasive method in studies analysing
lactation in cervids. Thermographic mea-
surements can be used to monitor lactation
in various wildlife species, but only in indi-
viduals that are relatively tame, for example
in small farms and zoos.
Localisation of Hidden Fawns
Hiding fawns are localised to obtain infor-
mation about the beginning of the fawn-
ing period, the number of born and hiding
fawns, and to protect offspring against
danger (for example, when fawns are left
alone in an empty enclosure after herding).
An effective method of localising fawns/
calves in fawning/calving enclosures would
considerably improve the welfare of farmed
The results of this study show that
thermal vision is an effective localisation
method despite certain limitations. Fawns
hidden in vegetation were identied with
the use of a thermographic camera from a
distance of up to 20 m. The effectiveness
of visualisation increased with a reduction
in distance. However, at a greater distance,
the heat emitted by fawns made it increas-
ingly difcult to distinguish the animal
from its surroundings (Fig. 5a, b, c). Tall
and dense vegetation between the camera
lens and the fawn was the greatest obstacle
in the localisation process. Very dense
vegetation blocked the heat emitted by the
animal even at a distance of several meters
from the thermographic camera. Bare soil
and stones were also strongly visualised in
thermograms, and they could be mistaken
for hiding fawns at a greater distance (Fig.
6a, b, c).
Our results are consistent with other
the ndings of other authors,4, 7 who found
that thermal vision was a useful method
for localising white-tailed deer calves, but
its effectiveness was signicantly limited
by dense vegetation. The cited authors
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. 193
Figure 5. Thermograms of hiding neonatal fawns and images of the observed area captured
with a digital camera:
5a) distance of around 20m,
5b) distance of around 13m,
5c) distance of around 4m (arrows point to a hiding fawn).
Vol. 16, No.2, 2018 • Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.
Figure 6. Thermogram of a stone (a), close-up view (b), and a digital image of the same stone
observed that thermally active surfaces
(heated ground, stones, sites previously oc-
cupied by deer) can be mistaken for hiding
calves. Some authors also found that dense
vegetation, high humidity, and hilly terrain
can pose signicant obstacles to thermal
imaging of hiding animals.12, 13, 14, 20 One of
the greatest drawbacks of thermal imaging
is that measurement error cannot be reli-
ably estimated because the ratio of detected
individuals to the actual number of animals
in the surveyed area is unknown.
Despite the above limitations, thermal
imaging is an effective tool for preventing
dangerous situations that might arise when
does with older fawns are herded into a
different enclosure and neonatal fawns are
left alone in the deserted enclosure. Thermo-
graphic cameras can also be used to study
the animals’ hiding preferences and deter-
mine whether fawning enclosures in a farm
have a sufcient number of suitable hiding
sites. When fawns, in particular very young
animals, hide in inappropriate locations (by
the fence, in low grass in the sun, etc.), it
is highly likely that the number of suitable
hiding sites in the fawning enclosure is in-
sufcient. The resulting information can be
used to increase the availability of suitable
hideouts during the breeding season. Fawn-
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. 195
ing enclosures can be set up in other loca-
tions that are overgrown with tall vegetation,
selected plants can be planted in autumn and
articial shelters can be introduced to create
visual barriers and shaded resting places.
Thermal vision systems can be used to
detect oestrus in farmed cervids, but they are
most effective when the surveyed animals
are relatively tame. In fallow deer does, ther-
mographic cameras do not support detection
of early pregnancy, and reliable information
is obtained only in the last trimester of preg-
nancy (April to June) when foetal develop-
ment is most rapid. The results of this study
indicate that thermal vision is a potentially
useful method for monitoring lactation in
cervids, but only in tamed animals. The
analysed method can also be used to localise
hiding fawns, but it produces reliable results
only when observations are performed at a
distance of up to 20 m.
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... Natural physiological processes such as birth, offspring rearing (Pelabon et al. 1998;Cilulko-Dolega et al. 2018) and the growth of fawns in the winter period can be controlled on deer farms . Performance traits such as the carcass meat content (Mulley and English 1985;Serrano et al. 2018), antler growth and quality (Gambin et al. 2017) and other traits or behavioural aspects can also be modified and controlled (Blanc and Therriez 1998;Goddard et al. 2001). ...
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An increase in testosterone levels affects the shedding of velvet which, in turn, influences the behaviour of farm-raised fallow deer bucks. Consequently, the welfare of the farmed animals can be considerably improved by controlling the timing of the velvet shedding period. The aim of this study was to analyse changes in the velvet temperature and the timing of the velvet shedding in farm-raised fallow deer bucks exposed to a modified photoperiod. A total of 28 bucks were examined. The experimental group was subjected to an experimentally modified photoperiod before the direct observations and measurements of the antler temperatures with a thermal imaging camera. The acquired thermograms were useful for analysing the stages and the rate of the antler growth and for predicting the timing of the velvet shedding. The introduction of a long-day photoperiod in spring affected the growth and ossification of the antlers as well as the velvet shedding. The optimal time for antler cutting can be planned based on the identified changes in the velvet temperature in different parts of the antler.
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ABSTRACT: This review presents the application and use of infrared thermography (IRT) in production animals. IRT is a non-invasive and non-contact heat detecting technology. An infrared camera measures the emitted infrared radiation from an object and then uses this information to create images (thernograms). These thermograms are evaluated by a specially analyzing software program. In live organisms, changes in vascular circulation result in an increase or decrease in tissue temperature, which is then used to evaluate the situation in that area. But there are some limitations and factors that must be considered when using IRT (sunlight, moisture, dirt, weather conditions etc). IRT has been mainly used in veterinary medicine, primarily for diagnostic purposes, especially in the diagnosis of orthopaedic diseases in horses. But IRT can be very successfully used as tool for research on livestock, pig, cattle, sheep and poultry breeding,. Areas of research include reproduction, thermoregulation, animal welfare or milking process. All of the authors using IRT recommended this method which can produce important information where conventional diagnostic techniques have exhausted their possibilities. Key Words: Infrared thermography, Cattle, Pigs, Sheep, Poultry
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Early detection and/or prediction of disease in an animal is the first step towards its successful treatment. The objective of this study was to investigate the capability of infrared thermography as a non-invasive, early detection method for identifying animals with a systemic infection. A viral infection model was adopted using 15 seronegative calves whose body weight averaged 172 kg. Ten of these calves were inoculated with Type 2 bovine viral diarrhoea virus (strain 24515) and five were separately housed and served as uninfected controls. A simultaneous comparison of infrared characteristics in both infected and control animals was conducted over approximately 15 d. In addition, measures of blood and saliva cortisol, immunoglobulin A, blood haptoglobin and clinical scores were obtained. Infrared temperatures, especially for facial scans, increased by 1.5°C to over 4°C (P < 0.01) several days to 1 wk before clinical scores or serum concentrations of acute phase protein indicated illness in the infected calves. The data suggest that infrared thermal measurements can be used in developing an early prediction index for infection in calves.
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An assesment of stress responses of 27 mature wapiti (Cervus elaphus canadensis) stags was conducted to test the efficacy of two methods of analgesia to reduce stress responses associated with the pain of cutting velvet antler. Analgesic methods were a Lidocaine nerve block (LIDO) and pedicle placement electrical analgesia (EA). A control group of animals (CON) was included that did not receive analgesia. Methods of assessing stress responses included heart and respiration rates, differential white blood cell counts and plasma cortisol. Assessment of stress responses also utilized infrared thermographic imaging and measurement of salivary cortisol concentrations. The latter measures were novel approaches to stress assessment in wapiti, and, as such, the study was a trial of their applicability. Measures were conducted over 2 d. Antler was harvested on day 1 and the animals were brought back to the handling facility 24 h later (day 2) for repeated measures. Heart and respiration rates were increased in response to cutting antler (P < 0.05) and declined following antler removal (P < 0.003). Reductions in eosinophils occurred over a 24-h period in all treatments and were statistically significant for the EA treatment (P < 0.014). Plasma cortisol concentrations did not demonstrate statistical differences between either treatments or days. Plasma cortisol concentrations were numerically higher for the EA animals on days 1 and 2 than for either the CON or LIDO treatments. Plasma cortisol levels tended to be higher after capture and restraint on day 2 compared to levels recorded after antler removal on day 1. Salivary cortisol levels were higher on day 2 compared to day 1 (P < 0.004). Between treatments, CON animals exhibited higher salivary cortisol levels on day 2 than EA (P < 0.05) and LIDO (P < 0 002) animals. Radiated heat loss, measured by infrared thermography, was significantly elevated in response to velveting (P < 0.00001). Increased radiated heat loss was observed for all treatments and was statistically significant for EA (P < 0 006) and CON (P < 0.02), bur not for LIDO (P < 0.06). The study demonstrated that the process of harvesting velvet antler from wapiti initiates a significant stress response similar to that of other animals during practices such as capture, handling and restraint. The data further suggest that stress responses to the above husbandry practices are exacerbated by the pain of cutting antler and that animals treated with Lidocaine for pain management exhibited a lesser stress response than CON or EA treated animals.
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Growing public concern regarding animal welfare and consumer demand for humanely produced products have placed pressure on the meat, wool and dairy industries to improve and confirm the welfare status of their animals. This has increased the need for reliable methods of assessing animal welfare during commercial farm practices. The measurement of the stress caused by commercial farm practices is a major component of animal welfare assessment. However, a major issue for animal welfare science is that many of the techniques used to measure stress involve invasive procedures, such as blood sampling, which may themselves cause a stress response and therefore affect the measurement of interest. To reduce this problem, a number of non-invasive or minimally invasive methods and devices have been developed to measure stress. These include the measurement of cortisol concentrations in saliva and faeces, and remote devices for recording body temperature, heart rate and the collection of blood samples. This review describes the benefits and limitations of some of these methods for measuring stress. In particular, the review focuses on recent advances and current research in the use of infrared thermography (IRT) for measuring stress. Specific applications for IRT in the dairy and beef industries are also described including an automated, non-invasive system for early diagnosis of infection in cattle. It is essential that non-invasive measures of acute and chronic stress are developed for reliable assessment of animal welfare during standard farm management practices and IRT may be a useful tool for this purpose. IRT may offer advantages over many other non-invasive systems as it appears to be capable of measuring different components of the stress axis, including acute sympathetic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical responses.
Objective: To determine if changes in vulvar skin temperature (VST), measured using infrared thermography (IRT), occur during estrus. Materials and methods: The experimental groups consisted of 25 gilts and 27 multiparous sows. Infrared VST and gluteal skin temperature (GST) were measured twice daily (8:00 am and 4:00 pm) using a thermal-imaging camera (Fluke IR FlexCam; Fluke Corporation, Everett, Washington). Once standing estrus was observed, transrectal real-time B-mode ultrasonography was performed twice daily (8:00 AM and 4:00 pm) to monitor follicle development and determine time of ovulation. Mean VST and GST (± SEM) were reported and compared using MANOVA and Tukey-Kramer tests in SAS 9.1 (SAS Inc, Cary, North Carolina). Significant differences were reported at P <.05. Results: Evidence of ovulation was detected at approximately 38 ± 9 and 43 ± 12 hours after the onset of estrus in gilts and sows, respectively. Overall, daily VST and GST were significantly higher (P <.05) in sows than in gilts. During estrus, VST rose as estrus began and fell significantly (1.5°C; P <.05) 36 to 12 hours prior to ovulation in both sows and gilts. There was no significant difference between daily GST measutements (P >.05), but the difference between VST and GST was significant (P <.01) over time. Implications: This study demonstrated that VST of sows and gilts, measured by IRT, changes significantly during estrus. The potential to use digital infrared thermography as an adjunct tool during estrus detection in swine appears to be promising.
The applicability of two types of airborne infrared detector systems for censusing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was studied during different seasons and at different altitudes. This method of detecting deer was checked against ground censusing along an interstate highway that traversed the heavily wooded, mountainous study area. We found that detectability from the air was related to time of day, season, altitude, and wavelength sensitivity of the infrared detectors. In preliminary studies, individual cattle were easily detected from an altitude of 1,000 feet, using infrared equipment sensitive in the 3-14 micrometer region of the light spectrum. Deer in shrublands were detected at 100, 250, and at 500 feet during nighttime summer flights, using a 3-14 micron detector; the 3-5 micron detector was found to be a better hot spot detector and gave the best image during the summer surveys. In contrast, the 3-4 micrometer detector provided superior images during a nighttime winter flight. The interaction of seasonal and wavelength sensitivity effects were attributed to differential thermal radiation. During winter, the deer's hair surface is more nearly equal to the average background temperature than it is during summer; this would be adaptive in that body heat is apparently freely radiated during the summer and retained during the winter. Although of great potential value as a censusing technique for big game animals, current limitations of the equipment used makes large-scale airborne infrared detection of deer impractical unless the census area is flat and relatively free of obstructing vegetation. Extensive work with the equipment described here disclosed that nighttime surveys are more likely to be successful than daytime flights unless the sky is heavily overcast. Difficulties with interference from large amounts of reflected solar radiation in the shorter wavelengths of the infrared spectrum are likely to be encountered in daytime operations, especially on clear days. Refinement of the technique will undoubtedly provide a powerful tool for studying population dynamics and behavior of big game species.
Infrared (IR) thermography was used to identify the major sites of heat loss from a female barn owl at an air temperature of 17.6°C. When perched, the mean radiative temperature of the owl was 21.1°C (SD=3.5). The facial disc averaged 23.9°C (SD=9.1) and the temperature of the eyes was greater than 33°C. Images showed an area on the lower abdomen that was warmer than 27°C. During flight, the temperature of plumage overlying wing muscles was more than 30°C.The metabolic heat production of the barn owl was estimated to be 42 W m−2 (1.68 W) at 17.6°C which agreed with previous measurements of metabolism. Heat loss from the head was almost double that from the body as a whole, indicating the importance of reducing exposure of the head during roosting.The metabolic rate during flight was calculated to be 13×BMR (Pennycuick, 1989). This suggested that barn owls lose considerable amounts of heat during prolonged periods of flight. It is hypothesised that by being active in cool nocturnal conditions, barn owls may exploit waste metabolic heat for thermoregulation.
Capture of neonatal white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) often is hampered by inherent difficulties in locating study animals. A variety of techniques have been described for location and capture of fawns, including foot searches, female behavioral cues, spotlighting, and vaginal transmitter implants. However, each technique has certain limitations imposed by such factors as habitat structure or logistical difficulties. We describe a new technique for locating deer fawns in which thermal imaging technology was employed. Only 3.3 person-hours were required per fawn located and 9.4 person-hours required per fawn captured. We suggest that this technique is equally or more efficient than other reported capture techniques for neonatal white-tailed deer.