Schmid, S. M., Büscher, W., Steinhoff-Wagner, J. 2021. Suitability of different thermometers for measuring body core and skin temperatures in suckling piglets. Animals 11(4), 1004.
Monitoring the temperature of piglets after birth is critical to ensure their well-being. Rectal temperature measurement is time-consuming, requires fixation of the animal and is stressful for piglets. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of infrared thermometry and thermography as compared to rectal temperatures. We investigated digital thermometers for rectal measurements, infrared ear thermometers, infrared forehead thermometers, infrared laser thermometers and an infrared camera during field trials with piglets aged 1–13 days. Temperatures differed between the left and right ear and ear base (p < 0.01), but not between temples. Three forehead and laser devices yielded different temperatures (p < 0.01). Temperatures assessed with a laser thermometer decreased with distance from the target (p < 0.01). The highest correlation observed was between the rectal and tympanic temperatures (r = 0.89; p < 0.01). For temperatures assessed with the camera, inner thigh and abdomen correlated most closely to core temperature (0.60 ≤ r ≤ 0.62; p < 0.01). Results indicate that infrared ear thermometry commonly used in humans is also suited for assessing temperature in piglets. The inner thigh and abdomen seem promising locations for estimating core temperature with an infrared camera, but this approach needs to be adapted to reduce time exposure and stress for the piglets to be used under practical conditions.