Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

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Heat Stress and body temperature in brown swiss cows raised in semi-arid climate of Ceará state, Brazil

Leles, Jaqueline SilvaRodrigues, Inti Campos SallesVieira Neto, Maurício FranciscoViana Neto, Aderson MartinsRocha, David Ramos daCosta, Antônio Nelson Lima daSalles, Maria Gorete FloresAraújo, Airton Alencar de

Background: In tropical countries like Brazil, air temperature and relative humidity have a significant effect on animal physiology; there is a great impact of solar radiation on physiological parameters, especially on body temperature. This study evaluated the occurrence of heat stress in Brown Swiss cows in a tropical semi-arid climate, and checked for the correlation between internal body temperatures [rectal temperature (RT) and vaginal temperature (VT)] with surface temperature (ST) to determine if these variables are associated.Materials, Methods & Results: Twenty-eight Brown Swiss cows at three stages of the lactation cycle were used in this study: 10 nonpregant lactating (NPL) cows, 8 dry pregnant (DP) cows, and 10 pregnant lactating (PL) cows. These animals were between the second and third calving, weighed between 346 and 720 kg, and had ages between 2 and 13 years. During the experimental period, air temperature and relative humidity (RH) at the experimental site were measured using a digital thermohygrometer. The temperature and humidity index (THI) was calculated according to methodology described by Thom (1958), and was used as an environmental comfort parameter. For the evaluation of RT and VT, two digital clinical thermometers, one inserted in the vagina and the other in the rectum, were used simultaneously to minimize stress. Surface temperature (ST) was assessed using a digital infrared laser thermometer at a distance of 50 cm from the animal. Surface temperature was measured in the forehead (FST), thorax (TST), flank (FLST), and legs (LST). During the study period, the ambient temperature (AT) was significantly higher outside (in the sun) than inside of the facilities (in the shade) (P < 0.05). RH was inversely proportional to AT, and was significantly higher inside than outside the facilities (P < 0.05).[...](AU)

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