The use of thermography for monitoring cattle health and welfare

Thermal imaging is a risk-free and fast examination method that can be used to detect injuries and infections in cattle. Inflammations raise the surface temperature of the inflamed area and, on the other hand, swelling decreases the surface temperature. The thermal imaging camera is a very accurate measuring instrument. It detects temperature differences that are less than a half of degree, while the sense of touch of human hand is able to estimate the temperature with an accuracy of two degrees of Celsius. Instead of just measuring the temperature in one point, it draws a complete image of temperatures of the object. Thermal imaging camera can be used to detect, for example, the early stage of mastitis so that the animal can be treated earlier and with lower costs.

Thermal imaging can potentially been used in:

• Monitoring of udder health

• Monitoring of hoof health

• In the assessment the extent of inflammation in the hoof

• Monitoring calf well-being in cold housing

• Locating the inflammation when the animal looks ill without a clear cause

In the studies, thermal imaging has been found to be suitable for measuring animal welfare. Nevertheless, there is only limited amount of experience of the use of thermography in monitoring cattle well-being in real life. There is a growing interest in applying thermal imaging in every day cattle health care, but the use is limited as clear instructions for the interpretation of the images are not available. The objective of Kuvaa Nautaa project is to develop comprehensive information package on the use of thermography in cattle health care. These instructions are designed for farmers as well as for veterinarians, hoof trimmers and agricultural experts.

IR 4631

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