Infrared thermography measured body surface temperature and its relationship with rectal temperature in dairy cows under different temperature-humidity indexes

  • D. Peng
  • S. Chen
  • G. Li
  • J. Chen
  • J. Wang
  • X. GuEmail author
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to better understand the inflection point of RT and BSTs and measure different body surface temperatures (BSTs) under different temperature-humidity index (THI) conditions. A total of 488 Holstein dairy cows were chosen to manually measure rectal temperature (RT) and BSTs including left side of eye, ear, cheek, forehead, flank, rump, fore udder, and rear udder by infrared thermography for 14 times. Those measurements included six times under high THI (THI > 78), three times under moderate THI (72 ≤ THI ≤ 78), and five times under low THI (THI < 72). Results showed that BSTs were affected by THI conditions (P < 0.01). The THI conditions where mean and maximum forehead temperatures started to increase rapidly (71.4 and 66.8) were lower than that where RT started to increase rapidly (74.1). The correlation coefficients of mean and maximum forehead temperatures to THI were 0.808 and 0.740, and were 0.557 and 0.504 to RT, all showing the highest as compared to other region temperatures with THI and RT, respectively. Thus, we conclude that BSTs are more sensitive to thermal environment than RT, suggesting the variability of BST to reflect body core temperature. In addition, the forehead is a relatively reliable region to assess the heat stress reflecting RT compared to the eye, ear, cheek, flank, rump, fore udder, and rear udder regions.


Body surface temperature Heat stress Infrared thermography Rectal temperature Temperature-humidity index 



We express sincere thanks to Mr. Dengsheng Sun for the helpful comments and Mr. Chuang Zhang and Mr. Guangju Wang from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences for their assistants for this experiment. And many thanks to all members from the dairy farm for their support and kind help.


This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0500507, 2017YFD0502003), the Beijing Dairy Industry Innovation Team Project (BAIC06-2017), and The Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (ASTIP-IAS07).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethics statement

The experimental protocols were approved by the Experimental Animal Care and Committee of Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (approval number 2016IAS018).


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Copyright information

© ISB 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Peng
    • 1
  • S. Chen
    • 1
  • G. Li
    • 1
  • J. Chen
    • 1
  • J. Wang
    • 1
  • X. Gu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Institute of Animal ScienceChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina

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