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Course of Rectal and Vaginal Temperature in Early Postpartum Sows

28 April 2015

Body temperature should not be used as the single criterion for the decision to administer medical treatment, according to researchers based in Berlin, Germany.

Researchers in Germany have investigated the course of body temperature in sow after farrowing and factors that may influence it as well as to examine the influence of a vaginal temperature logger on body temperature by including a control group of sows without loggers.

Their paper, by Onno Burfeind of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Free University in Berlin and co-authors there and at the veterinary practice 'Am Weinberg' in Jessen, is published in the Journal of Swine Health and Production.

Their study was conducted on a commercial pig farm from January to May 2013. A total of 156 sows received a vaginal temperature logger for six days post-partum and 43 sows remained without loggers (negative control group). Vaginal temperature was measured at 10-minute intervals. Rectal temperature, feed intake, general condition and vaginal discharge were evaluated daily.

The sows showed a clear circadian rhythm of vaginal temperature, with minimal mean temperature 39.0°C (standard deviation [SD] 0.5°C) from 5:00am to 6:00am and maximum mean temperature 39.4°C (SD 0.5°C) from 1:00pm to 7:00pm (P<0.05).

Day post partum (P<0.01), time of day (P<0.01), age (P<0.01), general condition (P<0.01), vaginal discharge (P<0.01) and treatment for postpartum dysgalactia syndrome (P<0.01) had effects on rectal and vaginal temperature.

Based on their results, Burfeind and co-authors concluded that measurement of body temperature should be made at the same time every day.

Use of vaginal temperature loggers is a practicable method for on-farm studies to gain more information about the course of body temperature in post-partum sows, they added.

The researchers also recommended against body temperature being the only criterion for the decision to administer medical treatment to sows.


Stiehler T., W. Heuwieser, A. Pfützner and O. Burfeind. 2015. The course of rectal and vaginal temperature in early postpartum sows. J Swine Health Prod. 23:72-83.

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April 2015

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