+49 30 838 62618
Measurement of body temperature is the most common method for an early diagnosis of sick cows in fresh cow protocols currently used on dairy farms. Thresholds for fever range from 39.4 °C to 39.7 °C. Several studies attempted to describe normal temperature ranges for healthy dairy cows in the early puerperium. However, the definition of a healthy cow is variable within these studies. It is challenging to determine normal temperature ranges for healthy cows because body temperature is usually included in the definition. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to identify factors that influence body temperature in healthy dairy cows early postpartum and to determine normal temperature ranges for healthy cows that calved in a moderate (temperature humidity index: 59.8 ± 3.8) and a hot period (temperature humidity index: 74.1 ± 4.4), respectively, excluding body temperature from the definition of the health status. Furthermore, the prevalence of fever was calculated for both periods separately. A subset of 17 (moderate period) and 15 cows (hot period) were used for analysis. To ensure their uterine health only cows with a serum haptoglobin concentration ≤ 1.1 g/L were included in the analysis. Therefore, body temperature could be excluded from the definition. A vaginal temperature logger that measured vaginal temperature every 10 min was inserted from Day 2 to 10 after parturition. Additionally rectal temperature was measured twice daily. Day in milk (2 to 10), period (moderate and hot), and time of day had an effect on rectal and vaginal temperature. The prevalence of fever (≥ 39.5 °C) was 7.4% and 28.1% for rectal temperature in the moderate and hot period, respectively. For vaginal temperature (07.00 to 11.00 h) it was 10% and 33%, respectively, considering the same threshold and period. This study demonstrates that body temperature in the early puerperium is influenced by several factors (day in milk, climate, time of day). Therefore, these factors have to be considered when interpreting body temperature measures to identify sick cows. Furthermore, the prevalence of fever considering different thresholds is higher during hot than moderate periods. However, even in a moderate period healthy cows can exhibit a body temperature that is considered as fever. This fact clearly illustrates that fever alone should not be considered the decision criterion whether a cow is allocated to an antibiotic treatment, although it is the most important one that is objectively measurable.