Thermal confort measurement

Livestock have a “comfort” temperature

THI (Thermal Humidity Index) is the weather condition evaluation criterion that combines a measure of thermal comfort with ease of use in animal husbandry.

Under high ambient temperatures and humid conditions, the physiological ability to dissipate this additional heat is more limited than with dry air (Beale et al., 2018) due to limited evaporation and associated thermolysis. Thus, indices used to assess the climatic environment typically include a combination of temperature, and humidity.

The Temperature and Humidity Index (THI) is generally considered to be the most reliable indicator of stress for animals. This index combines both temperature and humidity. With the same temperature, as the relative humidity increases, so does the THI.

Other parameters that are also found in other indicators of weather conditions are :

  • Radiation (action of the sun) is a concept that concerns only animals outdoors.
  • Convection (heat transport) mainly concerns ruminants. Indeed, ruminants are capable of sweating (this faculty is absent or very reduced in pigs and poultry). The evaporation of this sweat will cool the animal. The air velocity brings then an important factor by accelerating the evaporation. This is why the CCPA group uses the corrected THI, which integrates the air speed for a more accurate approach for ruminants. For poultries and pigs, evaporation is the major means of thermolysis. Under high THI conditions, the proportion of body heat removal by convection decreases.

Other criteria exist for a finer evaluation but are too complex or require specific devices that are difficult to use in field conditions.

Heat stress level of farm animals depending on temperature and humidity