Short communication: Early detection of mastitis using infrared thermography in dairy cows

Creative Commons License

Çolak A., Polat B., Okumus Z., Kaya M., Yanmaz L., Hayırlı A.

Journal of Dairy Science, vol.91, no.11, pp.4244-4248, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 91 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.3168/jds.2008-1258
  • Journal Name: Journal of Dairy Science
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.4244-4248
  • Keywords: California Mastitis test, Dairy cow, Infrared thermography, Mastitis
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


Infrared thermography (IRT) absorbs infrared radiation and generates images based on the amount of heat generated. It has been used in human medicine for diagnosis of various cancers. This experiment was conducted to determine if IRT had merit for early detection of subclinical mastitis in dairy cows. Milk sample and skin surface temperature (SST) were simultaneously evaluated using the California Mastitis Test (CMT) and IRT for each quarter in 94 dairy cows (49 Brown Swiss and 45 Holstein). Average days in milk (DIM) and milk production were 93 ± 37 d and 16 ± 2.2 kg (mean ± SD) and their ages ranged from 4 to 8 yr. There was a strong correlation between SST and CMT score (r = 0.92). Average SST was 33.19, 34.08, 34.99, and 36.15°C for quarters with the CMT score of 0 (n = 156), +1 (n = 116), +2 (n = 80), and +3 (n = 24), respectively. This association was best described by a linear model as follows: y = 0.94x + 33.17, R2 = 0.85, where y = SST and x = CMT score. Changes in rectal temperature (RT) due to the CMT score were minor (y = 0.09x + 38.39, R2 = 0.07, where y = RT and x = average CMT score). In conclusion, RT may not confirm mastitis. However, IRT is sensitive enough to perceive changes in SST in response to varying degrees of severity of the mammary gland infection as reflected by the CMT score, suggesting that as a noninvasive tool, IRT can be employed for screening dairy cows for mastitis. © American Dairy Science Association, 2008.