Thermoregulation is essential to piglets' neonatal survival. This study used infrared thermography (IRT) to assess thermoregulation abilities of piglets from two lines divergent for residual feed intake (RFI). At birth, morphology (weight, length, width and circumference), vigour (respiration, mobility and vocalisation), and rectal temperature were recorded from piglets of the 11th generation of the low RFI (LRFI, more efficient; n = 34) and the high RFI (HRFI, less efficient; n = 28) lines. Infrared thermography images were taken at 8, 15, 30 and 60 min post partum. Temperatures of the ear base and tip, and of the back (i.e. shoulders to rumps) were extracted (Thermacam Researcher Pro 2.0) and analysed with linear mixed models (SAS 9.4). Piglets had different average hourly weight gain (HRFI = 7.1 ± 1.3 g/h, LRFI = 3.6 ± 1.3 g/h; P < 0,001) but did not differ in morphology or vigour. All temperatures increased overtime. At birth, piglets' rectal temperature was correlated with the initial temperature of the ear base and the maximum back temperature (0.37 and 0.33, respectively; P < 0.05). High residual feed intake piglets had lower ear tip temperatures than LRFI piglets at 15 (24.7 ± 0.37 °C vs. 26.3 ± 0.36 °C, respectively; F 1, 63.5 = 9.11, P < 0.005) and 30 min post partum (26.2 ± 0.47 °C vs. 27.6 ± 0.44 °C, respectively; F 1, 66.9 = 4.52, P < 0.05). Moreover, thermal pattern of the ear tip differed between the two genetic lines. In conclusion, IRT allowed non-invasive assessment of piglets' thermoregulation abilities and indicated an influence of genetic selection for RFI on neonatal thermoregulation abilities.
- Feed efficiency
- Infrared thermography