Four experiments were carried out to investigate whether temperature measurements recorded continuously from the vagina of ruminant animals are comparable to those measured at the rectum. Normal vaginal, rectal and ruminal temperatures of sheep (n = 4) and cattle (n = 2) were measured twice for 4 h and 2.5 h, respectively. Fever was induced by administration of endotoxin to sheep (0.8 µg/kg live weight, n = 4) and cattle (0.2 µg/kg live weight, n = 2) and the temperatures were recorded for 4 h. Normal vaginal and rectal temperatures were recorded simultaneously in 8 sheep for 2 h and separately in 6 and 12 sheep, respectively, for 4 h. In sheep, mean (± SEM) rectal temperature ranged between 39.1 °C and 39.4 °C (± up to 0.11 °C) and mean vaginal temperature ranged between 39.2 °C and 39.5 °C (± up to 0.17 °C). In cattle, means (± SEM) of rectal and vaginal temperatures were both 38.6 ± 0.10 °C. Endotoxin elevated temperatures by about 2 °C and ruminal temperature was occasionally up to 1 °C higher than rectal or vaginal temperature. Rectal and vaginal temperatures did not differ significantly from each other in either species. The findings indicate that, for monitoring the internal thermal environment of cattle and sheep, vaginal temperature is equivalent to rectal temperature and support other evidence that temperature of the rumen can be independent of body temperature.

AL, Smaill, and GK Barrell

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 66, Napier, 290-294, 2006
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