Cow Health: Inner Body Temperature Is The Gold Standard For Disease Detection

Agro Napló
A change in body temperature is the first sign of the most common diseases in dairy cows and is therefore essential for reliable early detection. With continuous temperature monitoring from smaXtec, dairy farmers can detect diseases even before rumination decreases or external signs are visible.
With the smaXtec app, dairy famers stay connected to their herd at all times and easily access cow health data.

Inner body temperature is the most important vital sign for dairy farmers to detect diseases in their animals. Especially in the critical phase around calving and in case of any health anomaly, the body temperature should be taken as a precaution. This is because the most common diseases on dairy farms - these include high-risk and cost-intensive inflammatory and metabolic diseases such as mastitis or metritis and ketosis or milk fever, respectively - involve a minimal change in body temperature as they are developing. “Temperature monitoring truly plays a key role in dairy cow health monitoring. On top of that, the smaXtec temperature curve gives an excellent insight into cow health before treatments and allows to closely monitor treatment success and the animal's recovery, too.” says Mag. med. vet. Mathias Petermichl, veterinarian at smaXtec.

Mag. med. vet. Mathias Petermichl, veterinarian at smaXtec

Why is body temperature the best parameter for health monitoring?

A scientific study confirmed in 2013 that mastitis can cause a rise in body temperature above normal up to 4 days before clinical symptoms are diagnosed (1). According to a 2007 survey, the drop in rumination often occurs as a result of the temperature increase: Cows consume a lot of energy in their bodies when they get a fever, which can contribute to a decrease in energy-intensive bodily functions such as rumination (2). Many years of experience of smaXtec customers have proven that diseases such as metritis, lameness and pneumonia can be seen first through a rise in body temperature, underlining its importance for early detection.

Precise temperature monitoring directly inside the reticulum

With a relative measurement accuracy of ±0.01° C, the smaXtec Bolus measures the internal body temperature at this unique position inside the reticulum around the clock and detects diseases as they arise. In doing so, smaXtec not only assesses the temperature based on predefined standard values, but also records an individual normal temperature for each animal. The reason: Normal body temperature can vary from animal to animal and changes in dairy cows depending on age and lactation phase.

The smaXtec Classic Bolus SX.2 measures inner body temperature, rumination, activity and drinking cycles directly inside the cow's reticulum.

The smaXtec system therefore creates an individual temperature profile for each animal and can precisely detect even the slightest deviations from normal temperature. The seamless documentation of animal health data by smaXtec supports farmers by recognizing even short fever episodes, which can otherwise be easily overlooked. Whenever there is a significant increase in temperature, the system promptly notifies the dairy farmer, eliminating the time and labor required for regular manual temperature checks of the animals. In this way, dairy farmers can avoid consequences such as milk loss or on-farm deaths as a result of severe diseases.

„The smaXtec Boluses pick up all health problems within the cows, it's very early detection. It often picks mastitis up long before there are any visible signs.You get a temperature warning to which we then do a California mastitis test and this gives us an indication as to whether there is a problem that we will see in the next 24 hours.“

Jeremy Clark, Longshaw Farm, UK

This case study from the smaXtec Messenger with the curve diagram of a cow with mastitis clearly shows the advantages of temperature monitoring in practice: The smaXtec system sent the alarm ‘increase in body temperature' in the evening of 22nd June, neither rumination nor the animal's activity showed any visible change in the curve diagram at that time. In this case, the farmer didn't react when the first alert was sent. The cow was treated after the third alert which allowed the cow to recover. Rumination did not change significantly at any time. Inner body temperature changes earlier than other health parameters and is therefore also essential for the detection of mastitis.

Clear advantage through intelligent health monitoring with smaXtec

With health alerts directly on the smartphone or PC, dairy farmers can detect diseases earlier and thus also treat their animals sooner. This means less severe and shorter diseases with reduced antibiotics use on farms, avoiding a performance drop or waiting periods. Thus, smaXtec is supporting dairy farmers in raising animal welfare and helping them to operate profitably and sustainably at the same time.


  • (1) Adams, A. E./Olea-Popelka, F. J./Roman-Muniz, I. N. (2013): Using temperature-sensing reticular boluses to aid in the detection of production diseases in dairy cows, in: J. Dairy Sc. 96: p. 1549-1555
  • (2) Hänninen, L./Kaihilahti, J./Taponen, S./Hovinen, M./Pastell, M./Pyörälä, S. (2007): How behaviour predicts acute endotoxin mastitis in dairy cows. p. 160f
Címlapkép: Getty Images
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