Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Research Article Open Access

Surviving heat: Resilience of Nellore bulls to solar radiation exposure

Mateus Medeiros dos Santos, João Batista Freire Souza-Junior, Thibério de Souza Castelo, João Paulo Araújo Fernandes de Queiroz, Leonardo Lelis de Macedo Costa

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We aimed to assess the physiological and biophysical responses of Nellore bulls exposed to solar radiation in semiarid conditions throughout the day. Sixteen Nellore bulls were examined in Tibau city, Northeast Brazil (5°52ʹ South, 37°20ʹ West, and 37 m above sea level) over four nonconsecutive days, with data collection taking place at one-hour intervals between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. Four animals were analyzed each day and kept exposed to the sun for the duration of the study. The average age of the animals was three years, and their average body weight was 650±32 kg. The meteorological station measured air temperature (°C), relative humidity (%), solar radiation (W.m-2), and black globe temperatures (°C) every minute, while a digital anemometer thermohygrometer measured wind speed (m.s-1) at the same time. Respiratory rate (breaths.min-1), expired air temperature (°C), rectal temperature (°C), and body surface temperature (°C) were measured as physiological variables. Biophysical equations were used to estimate the sensible and latent heat transfer mechanisms (W.m-2). The air temperature ranged from 28.5 to 32.5°C, and direct solar radiation was between 21 and 891 W.m-². Between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, the study observed heat gain through longwave radiation, which reached an average of 250 W.m-2, with a significant increase (P < 0.05) in respiratory rate and body surface temperature during this time. Convection was significant in heat dissipation, particularly when the wind speed was increased from 11:00 am. However, latent heat loss mechanisms were more effective in losing excess body heat under total sun exposure, despite the positive effect of convection. The study findings showed that Nellore bulls maintained their body temperature within a narrow range even when exposed to high solar radiation, thus demonstrating the efficiency of physiological and biophysical mechanisms during times of greater thermal challenge.


biophysical mechanisms; livestock; physiological responses; thermal challenge; thermoregulation


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