Evaluating the impact of breed, pregnancy, and hair coat on body temperature and sweating rate of hair sheep ewes in the tropics

R. W. Godfrey, W. D. Preston, S. R. Joseph, L. Laplace, P. E. Hillman, K. G. Gebremedhin, C. N. Lee, R. J. Collier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of pregnancy, breed, and hair coat on body temperature and sweating rate (SR) of hair sheep. St. Croix White (STX; n = 9) and Dorper ☓ STX (DRPX; n = 9) ewes (3.6 yr of age) were evaluated over 4 d at 126 d of gestation (PREG) and over 4 d at 46 d postpartum (OPEN) in the shade and sun and in the morning (AM; 0900 to 1200 h) and afternoon (PM; 1300 to 1600 h) after a 20 min acclimation to each condition on each day. Data loggers recorded vaginal temperature (VT) at 10-min intervals for 96 h. Rectal temperature (RT) was measured using a digital veterinary thermometer, and respiration rate (RR) was measured as breaths per minute (bpm). Sweating rate was calculated from measured air properties passing over a shaved (300 cm2) and unshaved area of the ewes’ body using a portable calorimeter. Data were analyzed using GLM procedures of SAS (SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC) with breed, pregnancy status, sun exposure, and time of day as main effects. Mean temperature, relative humidity, temperature-humidity index, wind speed, and solar radiation on the days of data collection were 28.2°C, 82.8%, 80.3, 4.2 km/h, and 237.5 W/m2, respectively. There was no difference (P > 0.10) in RT, RR, and SR between DRPX and STX ewes. The PREG ewes had lower RT (P < 0.007) and SR (P < 0.0001) and higher RR (P < 0.007) than OPEN ewes (38.5 ± 0.2 vs. 39.1 ± 0.2°C, 70.2 ± 3.1 vs. 88.3 ± 3.1 g·m−2·h−1, and 79.5 ± 2.2 vs. 72.1 ± 2.2 bpm, respectively). During the PM, RR, RT (P < 0.05), and SR (P < 0.006) were higher than in the AM. In the sun, RR (P < 0.001) and SR (P < 0.0001) were higher than in the shade, but there was no difference (P > 0.10) in RT. There was no difference in SR (P > 0.10) between the shaved and unshaved area of the ewe. The DRPX ewes had higher (P < 0.0001) VT than STX ewes. The PREG ewes had higher (P < 0.001) VT than OPEN ewes during the night time and lower VT than the OPEN ewes during the day time (P < 0.0001). The OPEN ewes had a greater (P < 0.009) daily range of VT than PREG ewes did (2.5 ± 0.4 vs. 1.1 ± 0.4°C, respec-tively), but there was no breed difference (P > 0.10). Hair coat did not have an influence on the SR of the ewes, and PREG ewes appeared to use increased respiration as opposed to sweating to help control RT. The narrower range of body temperature, measured as VT, of PREG compared to OPEN ewes may be a protective mechanism for the developing fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2936-2942
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume95
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Body temperature
  • Hair sheep
  • Heat stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Sweating rate
  • Tropics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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