Farm Animals header

Two Cherokee County, NC veterianrians make farm calls:
Dr. Greg Cranford can be reached at 828-837-2396. His office is in Peachtree.
Dr. David Ackerman makes farm calls on Wednesday afternoons. He can be reached at 828-321-3316. His office is in Andrews.

Farm Animal Body Temperature
Species Degrees Fahrenheit
Horse99.5  to  101.3
Foal99.5  to  102.2
Cattle100.4  to  103.1
Sheep and Goats 102.2  to  104.9
Swine100.4  to  104.0

When the body temperature increases by at least 1°F over the normal upper limit, the animal is considered to have a fever. In most fevers, the temperature usually rises rapidly, reaches a peak, and then falls to a lower level. Generally, the height of the temperature indicates the height of the fever. Four categories of fever are distinguished here:

Degrees Fahrenheit
  Horse Cow
Mild fever 101.3 - 103.0 103.1 - 104.6
Moderate fever 103.0 - 104.8 104.6 - 105.8
High fever 104.8 - 106.0 105.8 - 107.0
Very high fever  106.0 - 110.0 107.0 - 110.0


The normal pulse frequency varies in different species and individual animals. Age, size, sex, breed, atmospheric conditions, time of day, exercise, eating, and excitement are all factors that influence variations in the pulse rate. The average pulse frequency, or the normal pulse rate, for large domestic animals is:

Photo of Fresian stallion
Heart beats per minute
Adult horses28  to  40
Newborn foals100
Foals (6 to 12 months) 45  to  60
Cattle40  to  70
Sheep and Goats60  to  90
Swine60 to 100
The terms used to define pulse frequency are frequent (quick or rapid) and infrequent (slow).


Respiration consists of:
1) inspiration, or the expansion of the chest or thorax—the part of the body between the neck and abdomen containing the heart and lungs; and
2) expiration, or the expulsion of air from the lungs.
In examining respiration in an animal, check movement and sound at the nostrils and in the chest area.
Variations in rate of respiration can be caused by many factors including body size, age, exercise, excitement, environmental temperature, atmospheric conditions, pregnancy, and fullness of the digestive tract. If variations in respiration rates are encountered and environmental conditions are suspected as being a possible cause, it’s a good idea to check the rate of two or three other animals for comparative purposes.

The normal range in respiratory rate
in mature animals at rest is:
Horse8 to 16 per minute
Beef cow10 to 30 per minute
Dairy cow18 to 28 per minute
Sheep and Goat12 to 20 per minute
Pig8 to 18 per minute

Give attention to the following factors:
a. Rate –number of inspirations per minute.
b. Depth – the intensity or indication of straining.
c. Character – normal breathing involves an observable expansion and relaxation of the ribs (costa) and abdominal wall. Any interference in breathing that may show more or less effort in either of these areas affects the character of the breathing.
d. Rhythm – change in duration of inspiration and expiration.
e. Sound – normal breathing is noiseless except when the animal is exercising or at work. Snuffling, sneezing, wheezing, rattling, or groaning may indicate something abnormal.
f. Dyspnea – labored or difficult breathing.

Author: Edward A. Le Viness, Area Livestock Specialist, University of Arizona

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