Cannas, S., Palestrini, C., Canali, E. et al. 2018. Thermography as a non-invasive measure of stress and fear of humans in sheep. Animals 8(9), 146.

No data have been published on the use of infrared thermography (IRT) to evaluate sheep emotions. We assessed whether this technique can be used as a non-invasive measure of negative emotions. Two voluntary animal approach (VAA) tests were conducted (and filmed) on five ewes before and after being restrained. The restraining process was performed by a handler for five minutes. IRT was used during restraint and the VAA tests. The lacrimal caruncle temperature was significantly higher during restraint and in the VAA test after the restraint compared with the VAA test before the restraint (Wilcoxon’s test; p = 0.04). The latency period until first contact was longer in the second VAA test (132 s) than in the first one (60 s). Our preliminary results suggest that IRT, combined with behavioral data, is a non-invasive technique that can be useful to assess stress and infer about negative emotions in sheep.

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