Behavioral and thermoregulatory characteristics of Dorper sheep

Tatiana Saraiva Torres, Lucimar Oliveira Silva, Laylson da Silva Borges, Luciano Silva Sena, Antonia Leidiana Moreira, Leandra Polliny Morais Machado, João Paulo Barbosa Cardoso, Antônio de Sousa Junior


The objective of this study was to evaluate the behavioral and thermoregulatory characteristics of Dorper sheep. The experiment involved 12 adult females in which the respiratory frequency (RF), heart rate (HR), and rectal temperature (RT) were measured and the following behavioral activities were evaluated: Idling while standing, Idling while lying, Drinking, Ruminating while standing, Ruminating while lying, Defecating, Urinating, Walking, Vocalizing, Biting, Coughing, Playing, Fighting, Rubbing, Self-cleaning, and Sleeping. The physical analysis of the thermal environment in the facility was obtained at the meteorological station of the Technical School of Teresina, where the air temperature (AT) and air relative humidity (ARH) were recorded. The black globe humidity index was obtained using a thermometer inserted in a black globe. A significant difference was detected for AT and ARH, especially the former, which had a higher value in the afternoon period (36.5 ºC). A significant effect was observed for the physiological variables, for which the highest values were found in the afternoon period, as follows: 85.30 mov./min, 93.11 beats/min, and 39.51 ºC (RF, HR, and RT, respectively). Air temperature had positive correlations of 0.572, 0.516, and 0.165 with all thermoregulatory characteristics (RF, HR, and RT, respectively). There was a significant difference for the ‘Idling while standing’, ‘Idling while lying’, ‘Ruminating while lying’, ‘Vocalizing’, ‘Eating’, ‘Playing’, and ‘Sleeping’ behaviors in relation to the evaluated periods of the day. The animals showed a certain level of thermal discomfort, especially in the afternoon period.


ambience; physiological variables; sheep farming; thermal stress; thermoneutrality

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