Rumen temperature boluses are becoming increasingly used as a means of monitoring core body temperature for the detection of ill health. However, the effect of behavior on rumen temperature is largely unknown. This research investigates the impact of behaviour and diet on the rumen temperature of Holstein bulls, both at grass, and in a housed environment. Rumen temperature was recorded at five-minute intervals using a bolus. Direct observations were conducted on young bulls in two studies (i) at grass (n = 30) and (ii) while housed (n = 32). In addition, activity monitors were attached to bulls at grass (n = 24). Within each study, diet differed by the level of concentrate supplementation. There was no effect of diet on rumen temperature. Significant differences in rumen temperature were observed between behaviour groups for bulls at grass (p < 0.001) and housed (p < 0.001). Furthermore, drinking resulted in the lowest rumen temperature (grass 35.97 °C; housed 36.70 °C). Therefore, rumen temperature is affected by behavior; however, the temperatures recorded were not outside the normal temperature range for healthy cattle.
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of Philosophy