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Infrared thermography as a possible technique for the estimation of parturition onset in sows

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Miguel Velazquez



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BackgroundThis study explores the possibility of using infrared thermography to estimate the onset of parturition in sows. Infrared camera (IRC) and infrared laser thermometer (IRT) were used to obtain the auricular skin temperature of sows along with rectal temperatures, from approximately one week before the anticipated farrowing until 24 h post-partum. Three commercial piglet producing farms were included in the study.ResultsThere were large variations in observed auricular skin temperature, both by IRC and IRT per time point. Graphical exploration of the observed auricular skin temperature measured by the two methods showed the same parallel patterns, although temperatures measured by IRC were higher at any time point compared to IRT. Auricular skin thermography revealed a clear increase in temperatures before farrowing. Statistical analyses, adjusting for differences between farms, sow activity and respiration rate, confirmed this increase. When controlling for these variables, and comparing the baseline temperatures to temperatures at farrowing, the difference was 3.9 and 4.1 °C measured with IRT and IRC, respectively. The greatest increase, of more than 2 °C, was found between 16 and 8 h and 8 to 4 h before farrowing. Rectal temperature increased by 0.5 °C in the same time interval and reached a temperature peak after farrowing.ConclusionSows showed a more than 2 °C increase in auricular skin temperature, measured by either IRC or IRT, 8 to16 hours before the first piglet was born. Hence, monitoring auricular skin temperatures of sows using infrared thermography one week before expected farrowing may provide a baseline temperature for each sow from which a sudden rise is indicative of parturition in the following 8 to 16 h. This may lead to more efficient allocation of human assistance during farrowing time and thereby improve farrowing management and the welfare of sows and their offspring.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gulliksen SM, Framstad T, Kielland C, Velazquez MA, Terøy MM, Helland EM, Lyngstad RH, Oropeza-Delgado AJ, Oropeza-Moe M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Porcine Health Management

Year: 2023

Volume: 9

Online publication date: 01/02/2023

Acceptance date: 27/12/2022

Date deposited: 09/02/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2055-5660

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/s40813-022-00301-x

PubMed id: 36721224


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