Volume 14 Abstracts

Group size and space allocation in farmed juvenile blue foxes (Alopex lagopus)

L Ahola, J Mononen, T Pyykönen, M Mohaibes and S Hänninen

Abstract

Farmed juvenile blue foxes were housed either singly, in pairs, or in quartets at a stocking density of either 0.6 m2 or 1.2 m2 per animal. The effects of group size and space allocation on physiological, behavioural and production-related parameters were assessed. The results showed that the larger space allocation, although having only minor effects on the measured parameters, allowed the foxes to maintain their individual space even in the larger group sizes. Social tension within the groups affected the behavioural and production-related parameters to a greater extent than did space allocation. The sex-related dominance order, with males having easier access to feed than females, and females having more bite scars and higher serum cortisol levels than males, appears to be the major factor affecting the general performance of mixed-sex group-housed farmed blue foxes. These results suggest that group housing of farmed juvenile blue foxes could be considered as an alternative, socially enriched way of housing these animals.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, blue fox, group housing, physiology, space allocation

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Welfare of badgers (Meles meles) subjected to culling: patterns of trap-related injury

R Woodroffe, FJ Bourne, DR Cox, CA Donnelly, G Gettinby, JP McInerney and WI Morrison

Abstract

For over 25 years, European badgers (Meles meles) have been subject to culling in Britain in attempts to limit the spread of tuberculosis (TB) to cattle. As part of a far-reaching evaluation of the effectiveness and acceptability of badger culling as a TB control measure, this paper assesses one aspect of the welfare of badger populations subjected to culling: the risk of badgers confined to cage traps prior to despatch becoming injured as a result of rubbing or biting on the cage. In a large-scale field trial, 88% of badgers received no detectable injuries as a result of being confined in the trap. Of those that were injured, 72% received only minor skin abrasions. A minority (1.8% of the total) acquired damage to the teeth or jaws that may have caused serious pain. Although trap rounds were commenced in the early morning, badgers were no more likely to sustain injuries when they remained in traps until later in the day. Coating of cage traps, intended to give the wire mesh a smoother surface, was associated with a reduction in the incidence of minor skin abrasions, although it may have slightly increased the frequency of less common but more serious abrasions. Modification of the door design reduced tooth damage. Traps will be further modified if appropriate. However, all aspects of the conduct of trapping operations must balance badger welfare with concerns for the health and safety of field staff.

Keywords: animal welfare, bovine tuberculosis, box trap, cage trap, capture myopathy, European badger

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Welfare of badgers (Meles meles) subjected to culling: development and evaluation of a closed season

R Woodroffe, FJ Bourne, CL Cheeseman, DR Cox, CA Donnelly, G Gettinby, JP McInerney and WI Morrison

Abstract

For the past 25 years, European badgers (Meles meles) have been subject to culling in Britain in attempts to limit the spread of tuberculosis (TB) to cattle. As part of a far-reaching evaluation of the effectiveness and acceptability of badger culling as a TB control measure, this paper assesses one aspect of the welfare of badger populations subjected to culling: the killing of breeding females, which risks leaving their unweaned cubs to starve in the den. To avoid this possibility, a three-month closed season was adopted, running from 1st February to 30th April, based on the best available estimates of the timing of birth and weaning in British badgers. During May 1999–2003, when a total of 4705 adult badgers were culled, field teams failed to capture 12 unweaned litters when their mothers were despatched. In 31 other cases, lactating females were culled but litters of almost-weaned cubs were also caught and despatched at the same dens, usually within a day of capture of the mother. The number of unweaned cubs missed by culling teams — estimated at approximately nine per year on average — was dramatically lower than that projected by a badger welfare lobby group. Our data suggest that the closed season is effective in reducing the suffering of unweaned cubs in badger populations subject to culling, and we recommend that this measure be maintained should badger culling form a component of any future TB control policy.

Keywords: animal welfare, bovine tuberculosis, closed season, delayed implantation, embryonic diapause, European badger

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Comparison of the severity of esophagogastric, lung and limb lesions at slaughter in pigs reared under standard and enriched conditions

G Ramis, S Gómez, FJ Pallarés and A Muñoz

Abstract

Two hundred and ten pigs were reared in three groups (according to genotype) under enriched conditions of large open-front sawdust-bedded barns. Eight hundred and twenty pigs were reared under standard conditions of small 15-animal pens in a conventional barn with partially slatted floors and natural ventilation. Production parameters including percentage mortality, feed conversion rate and average daily weight gain were calculated at the end of the fattening period. Stomachs, limbs and lungs were examined at slaughter in order to compare the number and severity of lesions between the enriched environment groups and the standard environment group. There was a significantly greater number of esophagogastric lesions in the standard environment group than in the enriched environment groups. No esophagogastric ulcers were observed in any pigs from the enriched groups, while 17.5% of stomachs from pigs in the standard environment group displayed this condition. There were no significant differences in the number of lung lesions associated with enzootic pneumonia between pigs from the standard and enriched environment groups. The limbs of animals reared in the standard environment had more lesions, especially in floor-contact areas, than those reared in the enriched environment (23.84% versus 1.08%). The production parameters measured were improved in the pigs from the enriched environment. These results suggest that the welfare of fattening pigs may be improved by the provision of enrichment in their housing environment. Evaluation of esophagogastric ulceration could be a useful indicator of welfare in pigs.

Keywords: animal welfare, esophagogastric ulcer, fattening, limb lesions, lung lesions, pig

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Changes in ear-pinna temperature as a useful measure of stress in sheep (Ovis aries)

TE Lowe, CJ Cook, JR Ingram and PJ Harris

Abstract

Activation of the sympathetic nervous system, with associated increases in heart rate and the redistribution of blood in preparation for ‘fight or flight’, is an integral part of the ‘defence reaction’. In sheep, the defence reaction involves vasoconstriction in the ear-pinna. If decreases in ear-pinna temperature (Tp) can be used to indicate vasoconstriction, then it may be possible to use changes in Tp as a measure of the defence reaction. Ewe lambs were exposed to stressors including mustering into pens, moving between pens, isolation from conspecifics, and prolonged periods of exercise. Measurements of heart rate (HR), Tp, vaginal temperature (Tv), and salivary cortisol and urinary catecholamine concentrations were used to assess stress responses. A repeatable pattern of changes in HR, Tp and Tv was observed in response to stressors. Short-term disturbances resulted in increased HR, reduced Tp, and increased Tv. More sustained disturbances — for example, prolonged periods of exercise — resulted in a sustained elevation in HR, a sustained decrease in Tp, and a sustained elevation in Tv. The highest levels of cortisol and catecholamines were associated with the treatments that resulted in the longest periods of decreased Tp. We infer that changes in Tp occur largely in response to changes in sympathetic nervous activity, and that the potential exists to measure elements of stress responses by monitoring Tp in freely behaving animals. This is a minimally invasive measure that allows the monitoring of modest numbers of animals over prolonged periods with minimal handling.

Keywords: animal welfare, defence reaction, ear-pinna, sheep, stress, temperature logger

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Consistency of piglet crushing by sows

 S Jarvis, RB D’Eath and K Fujita

Abstract

Piglet mortality is a major welfare and economic problem in the pig industry. Despite the use of farrowing crates, piglet crushing remains a major contributor to pre-weaning piglet mortality, which is typically around 12%. Our aims in this study were to quantify variability between sows and consistency across parities in crushing mortality, and to examine the effect of the environment on variability. In our first study, we compared the variability in crushing mortality in 122 primiparous sows (gilts) that farrowed in crates (71) or open pens (51). Certain sows crushed more or fewer piglets than expected by chance. Crushing was more frequent and more variable in pens compared to crates, indicating that crates may mask differences between sows. In our second study, we recorded piglet mortality for 125 sows, which farrowed in crates over several (4–9) parities. After adjusting for litter size, litter weight and parity effects, consistent individual differences between sows were evident. The repeatability of crushing was estimated at 0.14, with estimates of 0.18 and 0.05 for stillborns and total liveborn mortality, respectively. Although these repeatabilities are relatively low, there was a high degree of phenotypic variance (eg sows crushed between 0 and 30.8% of their piglets). Given that sows show some consistency in piglet mortality over parities, this could be used to inform culling decisions. Additionally, if differences in piglet crushing between sows have a genetic component, a breeding programme might reduce mortality from crushing. Because crates restrict maternal behaviour, genetic selection in this system may have relaxed selection for good maternal behaviour. Selection for reduced piglet mortality, and thus improved maternal abilities, could remove a major obstacle to the wider adoption of less restrictive farrowing systems, with positive welfare consequences for the sow and piglets.

Keywords: animal welfare, breeding goals, individual differences, pre-weaning piglet mortality, repeatability, sow

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Juvenile farmed mink (Mustela vison) with additional access to swimming water play more frequently than animals housed with a cylinder and platform, but without swimming water

CM Vinke, J van Leeuwen and BM Spruijt

Abstract

The opportunity to perform play behaviour may be an important ontogenic activity that stimulates behavioural variability and may enhance an individual’s coping capacity later in life. Play behaviour in juveniles may be enhanced by the presence of cage enrichments relevant to the animal’s motivations and natural behavioural repertoire. The present study aimed to investigate play behaviour in juvenile farmed mink reared and housed with the cage enrichments standard for the Dutch housing system (ie a cylinder and platform) and in an experimental group of animals with the same standard enrichments but with additional access to swimming water. Juvenile mink with access to swimming water played significantly more in the main cage than mink reared and housed with the cylinder and platform but without swimming water. The results suggest that swimming water presents the animals with biologically relevant stimuli that directly or indirectly influence the development of play behaviour. Specific implications for the animals’ long-term welfare are discussed. Future studies should elucidate the effects of juvenile play on the occurrence of abnormal behavioural patterns in adulthood more precisely and more thoroughly.

Keywords: animal welfare, coping capacity, enrichment, mink, needs, play behaviour

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Measuring the value to the public of pig welfare improvements: a contingent valuation approach

CA Glass, WG Hutchinson and VE Beattie

Abstract

The welfare of farm animals is a policy area that has increased greatly in importance in recent years. When deciding whether a proposed policy should be implemented, it can be useful for policymakers to compare the costs of the proposed improvement with the perceived benefits. The costs are relatively straightforward to calculate but little is known about the benefits. The Contingent Valuation Method (CVM), a direct survey-based method, can be used to shed some light on this. This approach elicits the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the provision of some public good or service. This paper reports the results of a contingent valuation study of the value of welfare improvements for growing pigs. Attitudes and opinions with regard to farm animal welfare are explored and WTP elicited for various pig welfare improvements including increases in space allowance, environmental enrichment and research into improved pig housing design. The results reveal a positive WTP for these improvements. However, it is also noteworthy that a significant proportion of the general public is willing to pay nothing for these improvements. Overall, the study illustrates the usefulness of the CVM approach as a tool for policymakers in assessing the merits of possible policy initiatives affecting the welfare of animals.

Keywords: animal welfare, contingent valuation, pigs, spike models, substitution effects, willingness-to-pay

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Modifying the behaviour of singly caged baboons: evaluating the effectiveness of four enrichment techniques

SR Bourgeois and L Brent

Abstract

Techniques to reduce or prevent behavioural disturbances in singly caged primates vary in form and effectiveness, with some behaviours being exceptionally resistant to treatment. Seven singly caged adolescent male olive hybrid baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis) were selected for behavioural intervention because of their severe abnormal behaviour. A continuous, all-occurrence sampling method yielded mean durations of abnormal and normal behaviour throughout the 10-week study. Analysis of baseline behaviour verified substantial durations of abnormal behaviour (mean = 9.80 min per 30-min observation period). We tested the effectiveness of four enrichment techniques: positive reinforcement training (PRT), food enrichment, non-food enrichment, and social enrichment (pair/trio housing). Each of the four enrichment conditions was implemented for a two-week period, with 10 30-min observations conducted per subject. We used repeated-measures analysis of variance to examine differences in behaviour durations between baseline and each enrichment condition. The social enrichment condition resulted in the most positive behavioural changes, including increased social behaviour and near elimination of abnormal behaviours (mean = 0.69 min per 30-min observation). Significant reductions in total abnormal behaviour levels were also found for other types of enrichment, but only social enrichment and PRT were effective in reducing whole-body stereotypies. Cage-directed and self-directed behaviours significantly decreased, whereas activity levels significantly increased during all enrichment conditions. The results of this project indicate that animate enrichment (human or conspecific stimulation), as opposed to inanimate enrichment, provides optimal means of behaviour modification for singly caged baboons. These findings have substantial implications for the welfare of captive primates in promoting successful therapeutic approaches for the behavioural management of laboratory primate species and for allocating limited enrichment resources.

Keywords: abnormal behaviour, animal welfare, baboon, behaviour modification, enrichment, positive reinforcement training

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Wounding rates in shooting foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

NC Fox, N Blay, AG Greenwood, D Wise and E Potapov

Abstract

One-hundred-and-ninety-nine shooters in England, Wales and Scotland shot at fox-shaped targets in 35 shotgun regimes including .410 and 12 bore using No 6, BB or AAA shot sizes at 25, 40 or 60 yards, with open and full choke barrels, and skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled shooters. A further 16 regimes used rimfire rifles at 50 yards (both supported using a gun rest and unsupported) and centrefire rifles at 100 and 150 yards, by day and by night. The targets were life-sized paper foxes, traced from a longitudinal section of a real fox and mapped with the internal anatomy. For shotgun trials, the targets were moved across a gap, allowing the shooters 3 or 3.5 s to take aim and fire. For rifle trials, the static targets were raised up for 4 s and then lowered. Fifteen dead foxes, shot with the same ammunition, ranges and angle as in the shooting regimes, were assessed for internal injuries caused by each regime. Ammunition was tested in comparative card-penetration tests. A total of 1085 shotgun shots and 885 rifle shots at the targets were scored as ‘killed’, ‘seriously wounded’, ‘lightly wounded’ or ‘missed’. As shooters’ skill level increased, the ‘kill’ rate increased, the ‘miss’ rate decreased but the ‘wounding’ rates stayed much the same. No 6 shot ‘wounded’ because of poor penetration. AAA had poor pattern density at ranges beyond 40 yards. At ranges of up to 40 yards, both AAA and BB shot performed well, BB being the optimum. .410 shotguns with No 6 shot ‘wounded’ but seldom ‘killed’. Rifles ‘killed’ better than shotguns and ‘wounded’ less. There was no regime that had no probability of ‘wounding’; however, the latter varied dramatically across the trials with different types of gun, ammunition and shooters’ skill level. Mitigating factors such as the use of second shots or dogs are discussed.

Keywords: animal welfare, red fox, rifle, shooting, shotgun, wounding

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Effect of supplementary ultraviolet lighting on the behaviour and corticosterone levels of Japanese quail chicks

EL Smith, VJ Greenwood, AR Goldsmith and IC Cuthill

Abstract

Most birds have visual sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths, and this sensitivity appears to play a role in their colour vision. Artificial lighting is normally deficient in UV wavelengths. Hence, there may be welfare implications for captive birds kept under such lighting. We investigated whether the absence of UV wavelengths during rearing adversely affects Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). We also investigated the short-term effect of switching from UV-containing to UV-deficient lighting, and vice versa. Stress was assessed by monitoring behaviour and plasma corticosterone levels. We did not detect any significant difference in these variables between birds reared either with or without UV. We conclude that rearing quail in an absence of UV does not appear to have a significant impact on their welfare, as measured using these indicators.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, corticosterone, Japanese quail, ultraviolet, UV

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Bowhunting deer

NG Gregory

Abstract 

There are conflicting views about the humaneness of the handbow as a recreational hunting method for deer. Some claim that it is the most humane hunting method, whilst others report higher wounding rates and crippling losses than with the rifle. This commentary summarises the factors affecting the likelihood of a quick death, the types of equipment commonly used, the vital target areas, the influence of blood loss on blood pressure and brain function and the prevalence of wounding during routine bowhunting. Some requirements in Bowhunters Association Codes of Conduct are also described. It is concluded that where bowhunting is allowed, Codes of Conduct should emphasise the hunters’ responsibility to track and despatch injured animals, and adherence to the Codes should be encouraged, if not enforced.

Keywords: animal welfare, deer, haemorrhage, hunting, suffering, trauma

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The effect of breeding schemes on the genetic response of canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, behaviour traits and appearance

K Mäki, A-E Liinamo, AF Groen, P Bijma and M Ojala

Abstract 

Current dog breeding programmes must be changed if genetic improvement in health and behaviour traits is to be achieved. A computer simulation programme was used to assess the possible genetic improvement in hip dysplasia (HD), elbow dysplasia (ED) and behaviour (BE) traits in a dog population whilst simultaneously selecting for appearance (AP). The structure of the Finnish Rottweiler population was used in the simulation. Over a ten-year period (1989–1998), the realised genetic response to selection in the Finnish Rottweiler population was 0.03 genetic standard deviations (SD) for both HD and ED. The relative selection index weights were iterated in the simulation, accordingly, as 0.4 for both traits. In the current breeding strategies, AP dominates other traits. Present index weights for BE and AP were therefore assumed to be 0.5 and 2.0, respectively. With these assumed current index weights, using best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) breeding values, neither an increase in the number of breeding candidates nor an increase in the number of screened relatives of the candidates resulted in further genetic response for HD, ED or BE. The desired genetic responses for HD, ED and BE over a period of 10 years could only be attained by changing the relative selection index weights dramatically in favour of these traits. As long as the index weights clearly favoured HD, ED and BE, the increase in the number of breeding candidates, ie in the number of screened dogs, resulted in a further response in these traits. To preserve desired behaviour and to improve health in dog breeds, systematic breeding programmes favouring these traits should be developed, and a greater number of dogs should be screened for health and behaviour. Breeders should stop breeding exhaustively for appearance and place more emphasis on health and behaviour traits.

Keywords: animal welfare, appearance, behaviour traits, breeding, dog, genetic defects

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The effects of rearing conditions on grooming and play behaviour in captive chimpanzees

JE Martin

Abstract

The effects of maternal and peer separation during infancy and juvenescence on adolescent and adult chimpanzee behaviour were studied. The aim was to provide an insight into the social development of the species and to investigate human influence on this process. Forty-three adolescent and adult chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), from a variety of backgrounds, were studied at five zoos in the UK. Details of play and grooming interactions were recorded. Competence at initiating, maintaining and contributing to play and grooming interactions was assessed. It was predicted that, regardless of their present environment, captive chimpanzees that were reared without their mother would be less competent and complex in these social abilities than mother-reared chimpanzees. Results indicated that the chimpanzees’ social skills showed few detrimental effects of maternal separation. Nevertheless, individuals that had been human-reared demonstrated more unsuccessful initiations of social interactions and fewer polyadic grooming interactions than their mother-reared peers. Therefore, rearing background may have only a limited effect on adult chimpanzees’ social competence. Adult chimpanzees that were hand-reared or nursery-reared may be exhibiting a recovery of their social skills, or they may be unaffected by their rearing background; alternatively, the effects of rearing may have been masked by more significant factors, such as current management.

Keywords: animal welfare, chimpanzees, early experience, grooming, play, rearing

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The use of a cat-flap at the nest entrance to mimic natural conditions in the breeding of fattening rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

P Baumann, H Oester and M Stauffacher

Abstract

Management systems allowing free nest access are widely used in commercial rabbit breeding, but these produce a potential conflict with the doe’s behavioural goal of a closed nest entrance. Furthermore, the restricted space in commercial breeding units prevents the doe from achieving a sufficient distance between her and the nest, another highly adaptive behavioural goal. This can lead to behavioural problems and pup mortality higher than 20%, attributable to hypothermia, injuries, weakness caused by the scattering and crushing of pups, or even cannibalism. In this study we tested a type of nest entrance (a metal cat-flap) that visually closed the nest box while still allowing the doe free access during the first 15 days after parturition. The effects of a cat-flap access (group CF) and of a permanently open nest box (group O) on nest-related behaviour, general activity, and plasma corticosterone concentration of the does, and on the mortality and weight of the pups, were compared using 15 ZIKA does in each group. Over 24 h, there was no difference between the groups in the frequency of ‘nest controls’ (approaches or entries to the nest without nursing of pups). However, outside nursing hours, does in group O showed more ‘head contacts’ with the nest, whereas does in group CF performed more nose contacts and nesting activities outside the nest. Does in group O performed twice as many potentially disturbing nest contacts in this time than does in group CF and had a higher increase of corticosterone after the administration of exogenous adrenocorticotrophic hormone. Pup mortality from days 16 to 35 was significantly higher in group O, and pups born to does in group O left the nest earlier. There was no significant difference in the weaning weights of pups between the two groups. As does with a cat-flap at the nest entrance still showed repeated nest approaches, the cat-flap possibly did not block all nest stimuli from the does. Alternatively, it is possible that the repeated approaches to the next box result from its being one of very few attractive or interesting features in an otherwise barren environment. Removal of the nest box from the cage is an effective method to eliminate nest stimuli, but this increases work for the staff without improving the barren environment for the rabbits. A better way of increasing the distance between the doe and the nest, as well as presenting a number of other attractive features, is group-housing of does.

Keywords: animal welfare, cat-flap, maternal behaviour, nest access, pup mortality, rabbit

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The influence of visual stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter

L Graham, DL Wells and PG Hepper

Abstract 

This study explored the influence of five types of visual stimulation on the behaviour of 50 dogs housed in a rescue shelter. These conditions were: one control condition (no visual stimulation) and four experimental conditions (blank television screen, and moving televised images of conspecifics, interspecifics [ie unfamiliar animal species] and humans). The dogs were exposed to each condition for 4 h per day for five days, with an intervening period of two days between conditions. The dogs’ behaviour was recorded on days 1, 3 and 5 during each condition. Dogs spent relatively little of the total observation time looking at the television monitors (10.8%). They spent significantly more of their time looking at the moving images of conspecifics, interspecifics and humans than at the blank screen, although their interest in all experimental conditions declined over time. Dogs spent more time at the front of their enclosures during all of the experimental conditions than during the control condition. Images of conspecifics were more likely to attract the dogs to the front of their kennels than the blank screen. The conspecific and human conditions of visual stimulation attracted slightly more attention from the dogs than the interspecific condition, although not significantly. All of the experimental conditions encouraged significantly less vocalisation and movement than the control condition. Overall, the findings suggest that the behaviour of kennelled dogs is influenced by visual stimulation in the form of television programmes. Such animals, however, may not benefit from this type of enrichment to the same degree as species with more well-developed visual systems. The addition of other types of enrichment strategy for dogs housed in rescue shelters is advocated.

Keywords: animal welfare, dogs, enrichment, rescue shelters, television, visual stimulation

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Nest-building behaviour in male rats from three inbred strains:BN/HsdCpb, BDIX/Or1Ico and LEW/Mol

IM Jegstrup, R Vestergaard, W Vach and M Ritskes-Hoitinga

Abstract 

Three inbred strains of male laboratory rat (BN/HsdCpb, BDIX/Or1Ico and LEW/Mol) were provided with nest boxes and nest materials, and were observed for nest-building activity. After 7 days, each cage and nest box was examined. Each nest was weighed and scored for complexity, and returned to the cage. This was repeated after a further 7 days and the nest removed completely. This routine was repeated three times. All three strains of rat built nests inside the nest box and showed the same stages of construction. There was a significant increase in nest complexity between day 7 and day 14 in the strains BN and BDIX. Furthermore, BDIX rats used significantly more material for the nests, compared with the BN and LEW rats. In a second experiment, using the same rats, nest material was offered in four different ways. LEW rats used nesting material irrespective of where it was placed; BN rats only used straw placed on the top of the cage when no alternative was provided in the cage, and would not use the nest box roof when it was covered with bedding; whereas BDIX rats would only use nest material placed within the cage and would not use straw placed on the cage lid. BN rats also used nest material to cover the entrance to the nest box, a practice not carried out by the other strains. This study demonstrates that these rat strains have retained their natural nest-building behaviour. We suggest that the correct stimuli must be provided in order for this behaviour to be exhibited; in addition, the way in which the nest materials are provided must be in accordance with strain-specific characteristics.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, enrichment, housing, nest, rats

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Short Communication

Faecal glucocorticoid level is not correlated with stereotypic pacing in two captive margays (Leopardus wiedii)

M Gusset

Abstract 

The ‘coping hypothesis’ of stereotypic behaviour — that stereotypies are performed as a means of helping the animal to cope with its environment by reducing stress — was tested using two adult female margays (Leopardus wiedii), an endangered neotropical small cat species. Within-individual and between-individual comparisons of the duration of stereotypic pacing and glucocorticoid concentration, measured non-invasively in faeces, indicated that stereotypic pacing did not help the two margays to cope with their captive environment by reducing their physiological stress level. However, hiding appeared to serve as a coping function in the two margays, not by immediately reducing the faecal glucocorticoid concentration, but rather as a long-term effect.

Keywords: animal welfare, coping, glucocorticoids, margay, non-invasive, stereotypic pacing

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The effects of novel floorings on dustbathing, pecking and scratching behaviour of caged hens

 

RJN Merrill and CJ Nicol

 

Abstract

From the year 2012, conventional battery cages for laying hens will be banned under the European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC. Enriched cages, which include a perch, a nest area, and a pecking and scratching area will not be banned, and have certain advantages over other systems of egg production. Previous studies have shown that even when a pecking and scratching area is provided, most dustbathing occurs on the wire floor as sham dustbathing. This study investigated whether novel cage floor types could stimulate full expression of dustbathing behaviour, similar to that seen on loose litter. One hundred and forty four hens were housed in pairs in non-commercial enriched cages that differed only in that they contained one of four randomly allocated floor types. Floor types were conventional wire (‘wire’), wood shavings (‘litter’), conventional wire wrapped with garden twine (‘string’) and perforated rubber matting (‘rubber’). Birds on litter or rubber performed fewer bouts of dustbathing than those on wire and string. However, bouts on litter were longer than those on the three other floor types. Overall, birds on litter or string showed a greater total duration of dustbathing than those on rubber, and birds on litter had a richer repertoire of dustbathing elements. Birds on litter performed significantly more pecking and scratching than those on string or rubber, which did not differ from those on wire. Birds on rubber and litter had poorer foot and feather condition than those on wire or string. Altering the cage floor produced minor changes in behaviour, and further novel floor types should be evaluated.

Keywords: animal welfare, dustbathing, laying hens, novel flooring, pecking, scratching

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SALIVARY CORTISOL AND BEHAVIOUR IN AN ALL-MALE GROUP OF WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLAS (GORILLA G. GORILLA)

CW Kuhar, TL Bettinger and ML Laudenslager

Abstract

While the use of salivary cortisol as an index of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis activation has increased rapidly in human studies, few non-human primate studies have used saliva samples. Nearly 300 h of behavioural data and over 400 saliva samples were collected from three young adult, male western lowland gorillas to document the feasibility and effectiveness of using salivary cortisol as an index of HPA activation in gorillas. Cortisol concentrations were significantly higher in morning samples than in afternoon samples, and there was a significant decrease in morning cortisol concentrations across the study period. Additionally, acute increases, followed by a return to baseline concentrations of cortisol were observed. Salivary cortisol concentration was found to correlate across individuals, indicating potential psychological attunement to environmental and/or social variables in these animals. Although no clear relationship between behaviour and cortisol concentrations was established, these results indicate that salivary cortisol is an effective technique for documenting HPA activity over an extended period of time, as it allows for detection of diurnal variation as well as acute changes in salivary cortisol concentrations.

Keywords: all-male group, animal welfare, gorilla, salivary cortisol, social behaviour

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The effects of mirrors on the welfare of caged rabbits

SE Jones and CJC Phillips

 

Abstract

Mirrors can enrich the environment of some social animals kept in isolation. In this study, the effect of mirrors on the behaviour of isolated, or partially isolated, caged rabbits was tested. In a changeover experiment, four treatments were investigated: isolated without mirrors; partially isolated (with a conspecific housed behind a partition) without mirrors; isolated with mirrors; and partially isolated with mirrors. Behaviour was recorded during the first hour for which the rabbits were in the cages with the stimuli, and then again after one week. Initially, the rabbits’ alertness increased, which may be because they perceived the mirror image to be a potential threat. The mirrors also stimulated investigation by the rabbits, which initially scraped them rapidly with their forepaws (scrabbling) and sniffed them. Although sniffing was maintained until the end of the week, scrabbling was not, probably because the rabbits failed to elicit the normal reactions of a conspecific from their mirror images. Mirrors also reduced the time rabbits spent sitting in their living area looking out of the cage, and increased their behavioural complexity, as determined from the number of behaviours performed per minute. In a second experiment, the responses of seven rabbits to four stimuli were recorded: a conspecific; a toy animal; a mirror; and a blank card. The rabbits were presented with pairs of stimuli at either end of a marked board. The responses of the rabbits to mirrors were more similar to their responses to a blank card or to a soft toy than to a conspecific. Although the rabbits did not respond to mirror images as if they were conspecifics, the mirrors may have had benefits to the complexity of behaviour of rabbits in small cages.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, cage, isolation, mirror, rabbit, reflection

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The use of conjoint analysis to determine the importance of factors that affect on-farm welfare of the dairy cow

LJ Angus, H Bowen, LAS Gill, TG Knowles and A Butterworth

 

Abstract

A large range of variables can affect the welfare of the dairy cow, making it difficult to assess the overall ‘level of welfare’ of the individual animal. Two groups of individuals completed a questionnaire based upon the ‘five freedoms’: 26 respondents had expertise either in the field of dairy cow welfare or as practicing veterinary surgeons, and 30 were veterinary students in their penultimate year of study. Conjoint analysis was used to calculate the average importance scores (AIS) for 34 variables presented to the respondents as 52 ‘model cows’ in the form of grouped questions, phrases and pictures. Conjoint analysis identified the most important factors for each ‘freedom’: access to forage, body condition score, foot conformation, hock lesions, and the encouragement required for a dairy cow to walk into the parlour. There was a significant difference between the expert and student groups for seven out of 34 factors, which may be attributed to individual variation of opinion, knowledge, experience and expectation. The factors were ranked within each ‘freedom’ using the experts’ AIS but it was not assumed that each freedom had equal ‘weight’; therefore, the factors within each freedom were compared only with factors within the same freedom. These scores produced a weighting scale, which was applied on-farm, in a preliminary exercise comparing ‘model’ and ‘perceived’ welfare scores.

Keywords: animal welfare, conjoint analysis, dairy cow, five freedoms, on-farm, welfare assessment

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How Tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus Apella) rank monkey chow in relation to other foods

E Addessi, M Stammati, G Sabbatini and E Visalberghi

 

Abstract

Captive primates are usually fed on monkey chow, a high-energy food designed to provide a complete and balanced diet for primates. In addition to the nutritional value of a food, its palatability, frequency of presentation in the daily diet and sensory stimulation may also be important for determining whether it is accepted by the animals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the food preferences of 26 captive capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) using monkey chow and a variety of foods, which ranged from being very familiar to completely novel to the monkeys, and to assess whether the frequency of presentation in the daily diet and sensory stimulation affected their food preferences. Food preferences were scored in terms of the food item chosen and whether it was then eaten. In Experiment 1, subjects encountered paired combinations of seven familiar foods (present in the monkeys’ diet with different frequencies), including monkey chow. In Experiments 2 and 3, monkey chow was paired with seven novel foods (not previously present in the monkeys’ diet) and seven ex-novel foods (previously only encountered repeatedly during an earlier experiment) respectively. The results show that monkey chow, despite its high energy content, was not very attractive to capuchin monkeys. Other familiar foods (especially those not presented daily) were chosen and eaten more frequently than the monkey chow, and novel foods were chosen more frequently than the monkey chow. The findings of this study have implications for the feeding husbandry of captive primates. Familiar foods presented in the diet each day are less preferred; therefore good practice would be to alternate foods over time. Occasional presentation of novel food items could be a stimulating and economical method of providing sensory enrichment.

Keywords: animal welfare, Cebus apella, dietary husbandry, food preferences, monkey chow

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The welfare impact of gavaging laboratory rats

M Bonnichsen, N Dragsted and AK Hansen

 

Abstract

Gavaging (oral dosing) has previously been shown to have only a short-term effect on behavioural parameters in the laboratory rat. The aim of this study was to determine if the gavaging of laboratory rats influenced their heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, and if so, whether the duration of this impact correlated with the volume gavaged. The three stress parameters were measured using telemetric transponders placed in the abdomen of eight female Sprague-Dawley (Mol:SPRD) rats. Using a Latin Square cross-over design, the rats were gavaged with three different doses of barium sulphate (4, 10 and 40 ml kg–1); in addition, there was a control of no dose, only insertion of the tube. The heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature of the rats were monitored continuously for 4 h after dosing and again for 1 h, 24 h after dosing. The gavaging of laboratory rats was shown to induce an acute reaction: after 30 min, blood pressure and heart rate were significantly higher than before gavaging, and body temperature was significantly higher 60 min after gavaging — indicators of stress levels comparable to those of other basic experimental procedures. A significant correlation between heart rate and dosage was observed until 10 min after gavaging. This indicates that the dosage gavaged is of only minor importance in causing stress, and only important for the most acute reaction. However, because of the resistance and discomfort observed when administering a 40 ml kg–1 dose, this dose should be administered only with caution.

Keywords: animal welfare, blood pressure, gavaging, heart rate, laboratory rats, telemetry

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A comparative study of the influence of social housing conditions on the behaviour of captive tigers (Panthera tigris)

M De Rouck, AC Kitchener, G Law and M Nelissen

 

Abstract

Nowadays, zoos are increasingly concerned with animal welfare as public expectations and knowledge of the needs of captive animals increases. Although many zoos try to provide all sorts of enrichment for their big cats, the importance of social enrichment is not yet fully understood. This study investigates the effect of different social housing conditions on the behaviour exhibited by captive tigers (Panthera tigris). It was found that paired tigers performed a wider variety of behaviours than single tigers (mostly direct social interactions). Single animals spent significantly more time rolling, auto-playing and performing flehmen. Moreover, paired tigers without neighbouring tigers exhibited significantly less pacing than those with neighbouring tigers. These results suggest that housing tigers in pairs is preferable for the animals as they are able to perform a wider range of natural behaviours, and that the presence of neighbouring tigers causes stress and frustration, and hence more pacing.

Keywords: animal welfare, behaviour, captivity, social conditions, tiger

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Genetically modified animals in research: an analysis of applications submitted to ethics committees on animal experimentation in Sweden

A Nordgren and H Röcklinsberg

 

Abstract

The use of genetically modified (GM) animals in biomedical research has increased during recent years and its ethical aspects have been subject to ongoing academic discussion. In order to reinforce this discussion, we analysed applications submitted to animal ethics committees in Sweden during 2002. The aim was to investigate the researchers’ statements concerning the production and use of GM animals, as well as the committees’ assessments of the applications. For our analysis, we constructed an analytic form. In part, we included the questions and categories of the mandatory application form, noting for example species, degree of severity regarding pain and distress, the management of pain, and endpoints. In addition, we included our own specific questions and categories, and classified the applications accordingly. In particular we focused on the methods of GM animal production and on the expected clinical symptoms attributable to genetic modification and experimental use. Our analysis, which was partly quantitative and partly qualitative, revealed that applications were often approved by the committees despite containing insufficient information regarding ethically relevant aspects, that the arguments for using GM animals were often unclear, and that some applicants indicated awareness of possible unintentional welfare effects attributable to genetic modification. In more than 36% of the applications, obvious or minor clinical symptoms attibutable to genetic modification were expected. However, we also noted that many applicants emphasised that certain GM animals were to be used without the expectation that the animals would display any clinical symptoms. This was obviously viewed as an ethical advantage.

Keywords: animal ethics, animal experimentation, animal welfare, committees, genetically modified animals, transgenic animals

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Housing environment alters delayed-type hypersensitivity and corticosterone concentrations of individually housed male C57BL/6 mice

GN Neigh, SL Bowers, B Korman and RJ Nelson

 

Abstract

Housing conditions can alter both the physiology and behaviour of laboratory animals. Forced-air-ventilated micro-isolation systems increase the efficient use of space, decrease the incidence of disease among laboratory rodents, and provide better working conditions for animal care staff; however, such systems can increase breeding variability and mortality. We examined the possibility that stressors associated with automated housing conditions evoke subtle changes among immune, endocrine, and behavioural parameters in mice housed in a static versus a forced-air-ventilated micro-isolation system. In addition, we assessed the effects of housing in the forced-air-ventilated micro-isolation system both with and without the use of an automatic watering system. Housing in the forced-air-ventilated micro-isolation system, using the automatic watering system, suppressed delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, a measure of cell mediated immune function, compared with the responses of mice housed in static cages. Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis function was also altered by housing in the forced-air-ventilated micro-isolation system with the use of the automatic watering system, such that mice in this housing system had lower resting corticosterone concentrations and increased reactivity to restraint. Despite these changes in corticosterone, housing condition did not alter activity level or exploratory, anxiety-like, or depressive-like behaviours. These results suggest that investigators should carefully consider housing conditions in studies of immune and endocrine function.

Keywords: animal welfare, corticosterone, DTH, housing, mouse, restraint

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Effective searching of the scientific literature for alternatives: search grids for appropriate databases

 

LA Hart, MW Wood and H-Y Weng

 

Abstract

Researchers searching for alternatives to painful procedures that involve animals may find that the dispersed relevant literature and the array of databases make the search challenging and even onerous. This paper addresses a significant gap that exists for researchers, in identifying appropriate databases to use when searching for specific types of information on alternatives. To facilitate the efficient and effective searching by users, and to ensure compliance with new requirements and improved science, we initiate an evolving guide comprising search grids of database resources organised by animal models and topics (http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/Animal_Alternatives/databaseapproach.html). The search grids present organised lists of specific databases and other resources for each animal model and topic, with live links. The search grids also indicate resources that are freely available worldwide, and those that are proprietary and available only to subscribers. The search grids are divided into two categories: ‘animal models’ and ‘topics’. The category ‘animal models’ comprises: animal model selections; mice; rodents — rats/guinea pigs/hamsters; rabbits; dogs, cats; farm animals, sheep, swine; non-human primates; fish, frogs, aquatic; and exotics. The category ‘topics’ comprises: husbandry; behaviour; euthanasia; toxicity; monoclonal antibodies; teaching; endpoints; disease models; analgesia/anaesthesia; emerging technologies; strategies for specific intervention procedures; and standard operating procedures (for example, drawing blood, behavioural training, transportation, handling, restraint and identification). Users are provided with a selected list of linked resources relevant to their particular search. Starting with an appropriate database that covers the type of information that is being sought is the first step in conducting an effective search that can yield useful information to enhance animal welfare.

Keywords: alternatives, animal welfare, compliance, database, Policy 11, Policy 12

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Assessment of stress in non-human primates: application of the neutrophil activation test

 

PE Honess, C Marin, AP Brown and SE Wolfensohn

 

Abstract

A technique measuring leukocyte (neutrophil) activity was used to examine differences between stress levels in a breeding colony of rhesus macaques housed in either a traditional caging system or open-rooms. The leukocyte activation test measured the degree to which blood from the two treatment groups could launch a further neutrophil response (superoxide production) to an in vitro challenge. Animals housed in a traditional caging system produced a significantly lower leukocyte response than animals housed in open-rooms, indicating that there was a higher level of stress associated with caged housing than open-room housing. This was not influenced by whether animals were physically restrained or trained to stand for a sedating injection. No differences were found between treatment groups in leukocyte numbers or composition. This study validates the use of the leukocyte activation test to assess physiological stress levels in non-human primates and demonstrates the animal welfare benefits of open-room housing over traditional laboratory caging systems.

Keywords: animal welfare, housing refinement, leukocyte activity, Macaca mulatta, rhesus macaques, stress

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A modified HET–CAM approach for biocompatibility testing of medical devices

 

C Eder, E Falkner, M Mickel, C Chiari-Grisar, H Appl, H Schöffl, S Nehrer and UM Losert

 

Abstract

The implantation of new biomedical devices into living animals without any previous toxicity or biocompatibility evaluation is possible under current legislation. The HET–CAM (Hen Egg Test–Chorionallantoic Membrane) test offers a partially immunodeficient, borderline in vitro/in vivo test system that allows the simulation of transplantation experiments to obtain biocompatibility data prior to animal testing. A collagen type I/III scaffold, designed for tissue regeneration, was tested for angiogenetic properties and biocompatibility patterns. A significant angiogenetic stimulus caused by the collagen scaffold material was observed. Altering biocompatibility patterns by incubation with the potentially hazardous chemicals acridine orange and ethidium bromide led to severe vessel thrombosis and a foreign body tissue response. CAM testing of biomaterials and tissue engineered products allows selection of the most suitable biomaterial and the elimination of unsuitable materials from animal experiments, leading to a refinement of testing procedures and a reduction in the number of animals required for biocompatibility testing.

Keywords: animal welfare, biocompatibility testing, chorionallantoic membrane, HET–CAM test, Three Rs, tissue engineering

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The welfare and scientific advantages of non-invasive imaging of animals used in biomedical research

 

M Hudson

 

Abstract

At present, animal experimentation remains central to our understanding of human disease-related processes and of the biological effects of many substances. Traditional experiments have relied heavily on invasive techniques to monitor changes in blood biochemistry, tissue structure or function, or to phenotype or genotype genetically modified animals. In some cases, a proportion or all of the animals used during the course of a study may be sacrificed for histopathological assessment. In most cases, this is to track the progression or regression of a disease over time, or to determine the levels of toxicity evident in specific organs or tissues. However, many of these techniques fail to provide details of how a disease develops or how a substance elicits its effects. In recent years there has been a gradual increase in the application of imaging techniques that were originally developed and used in fundamental research or in medicine. These non-invasive techniques allow diseases, and responses to exogenous substances, to be monitored in a temporal and spatial manner, therefore allowing a greater amount of information to be derived from smaller numbers of animals, which in turn, increases the statistical validity of the data by reducing the level of experimental variation. Non-invasive imaging also allows more informative and humane endpoints to be used and, perhaps most importantly, allows functional details to be studied in the context of a living animal. Some of the recent developments within the field of non-invasive imaging and their significance with respect to animal welfare and the understanding of human physiology are discussed.

Keywords: animal welfare, bioluminescence, human disease, MRI, non-invasive imaging, PET

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Infrared thermography as a non-invasive tool to study animal welfare

 

M Stewart, JR Webster, AL Schaefer, NJ Cook and SL Scott

 

Abstract

Growing public concern regarding animal welfare and consumer demand for humanely produced products have placed pressure on the meat, wool and dairy industries to improve and confirm the welfare status of their animals. This has increased the need for reliable methods of assessing animal welfare during commercial farm practices. The measurement of the stress caused by commercial farm practices is a major component of animal welfare assessment. However, a major issue for animal welfare science is that many of the techniques used to measure stress involve invasive procedures, such as blood sampling, which may themselves cause a stress response and therefore affect the measurement of interest. To reduce this problem, a number of non-invasive or minimally invasive methods and devices have been developed to measure stress. These include the measurement of cortisol concentrations in saliva and faeces, and remote devices for recording body temperature, heart rate and the collection of blood samples. This review describes the benefits and limitations of some of these methods for measuring stress. In particular, the review focuses on recent advances and current research in the use of infrared thermography (IRT) for measuring stress. Specific applications for IRT in the dairy and beef industries are also described including an automated, non-invasive system for early diagnosis of infection in cattle. It is essential that non-invasive measures of acute and chronic stress are developed for reliable assessment of animal welfare during standard farm management practices and IRT may be a useful tool for this purpose. IRT may offer advantages over many other non-invasive systems as it appears to be capable of measuring different components of the stress axis, including acute sympathetic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical responses.

Keywords: animal welfare, infrared thermography, non-invasive techniques, remote sampling, stress measurement

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The interplay between replacement, reduction and refinement: considerations where the Three Rs interact

 

MJ de Boo, AE Rennie, HM Buchanan-Smith and CFM Hendriksen

 

Abstract

Russell and Burch’s Three Rs principle of replacement, reduction and refinement offers a useful concept for the scientific and ethical evaluation of the use of animals in scientific procedures. Replacement, reduction and refinement are often considered separately, but when applied, one of the Three Rs may have a positive or negative effect on one or both of the other Rs. This paper explores the interplay between the Three Rs and provides examples where the Three Rs have a positive interaction and where they are in conflict with each other. For example, all Three Rs positively interact in the use of cell cultures, but validation studies of replacement techniques may initially increase the numbers of animals used; therefore replacement and reduction are in conflict. Several models of cost-benefit analyses, used by animal ethics committees to justify or reject animal experimentation, contain elements such as quality and significance of the research, the credibility of the research group and the discomfort caused to the animals. Although these models consider the Three Rs, each R is considered independently of the others. Consequently, moral dilemmas may arise when reviewing proposals in which the Three Rs conflict. Currently there is no legal guidance relating to the prioritisation of the Three Rs, but guidance is required to facilitate their use. For example, does a significant reduction in animal numbers justify increased individual suffering? Moral justifications deserve more attention when considering the Three Rs in general, and when considering the application of one or more Rs to a procedure, to a protocol, or to the wider research programme.

Keywords: alternatives, animal welfare, interplay, reduction, refinement, replacement

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Meta-analysis — a systematic and quantitative review of animal experiments to maximise the information derived

 

CJC Phillips

 

Abstract

Meta-analysis provides a tool to statistically aggregate data from existing randomised controlled animal experiments. The results can then be summarised across a range of conditions and an increased pool of experimental data can be subjected to statistical analysis. New information can be derived, but most frequently the results are a refinement of existing knowledge. By designing experiments and reporting protocols, so that they have the capability of being useful to meta-analyses, maximum benefit can be derived from individual randomised controlled experiments, which may individually have little statistical power, and new avenues for productive research identified. The methodology for meta-analysis is derived from clinical trials in the medical sciences. Now that there is substantial output from animal science experiments, there is an opportunity to apply the technique to these and reduce the need for further experimentation. This paper describes the contribution of meta-analysis to the reduction of animals in research and provides details on data collection, analysis, the models used, and on interpreting and reporting the results. Three applications of meta-analysis to the field of animal science are also briefly described. First, the impact of undernutrition on the production and composition of milk from dairy cows confirmed existing knowledge about partitioning scarce nutrients to milk yield and live weight. Second, increased absorption of cadmium — a widespread toxic element — from organic sources was detected in sheep, which was previously untested. Third, no significant relationships were found between common indicators of undernutrition and weight, and condition score in cattle suggesting that the common indicators used are not suitable as evidence of long term undernutrition. This paper concludes that opportunities exist to increase the information gained from animal experiments by subjecting the results to meta-analysis, particularly if this can be anticipated in advance of study protocols being constructed.

Keywords: animal science, animal welfare, experimentation, meta-analysis, research techniques, statistics

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The ethics of the Three Rs principle: a reconsideration

 

JMG Vorstenbosch

 

Abstract

In the past decades the Three Rs concept, famously launched by Russell and Burch in their 1959 book The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, has gained a prominent place in the landscape of societal and ethical concern about animal use. Important scientific and institutional initiatives have been taken in order to promote replacement, reduction and refinement. It appears, however, that conceptual and ethical thinking about the presuppositions and changing contexts of the Three Rs concept has lagged behind the scientific and practical efforts. In this paper, first, I argue that there is a threefold argument to make for the need to reconsider the moral basis of the Three Rs concept. Second, I outline a number of standard assumptions of the traditional approach to the Three Rs and question the tenability of these assumptions. Third, I propose some elements of a new framework for the Three Rs principle and connect this to a number of developments in science and society. I conclude with four remarks on the future of the ethics of the Three Rs principle.

Keywords: animal welfare, ethical committees, ethics, humaneness, Three Rs principle, values

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The use of databases, information centres and guidelines when planning research that may involve animals

 

AJ Smith and T Allen

 

Abstract

In many countries scientists planning research that may involve the use of animals are required by law to examine the possibilities for replacement, reduction or refinement (the Three Rs) of these experiments. In addition to the large number of literature databases, there are now many specialist databases specifically addressing the Three Rs. Information centres, with a mandate to assist scientists and lay people locate information on the Three Rs, have also been established. Email discussion lists and their archives constitute another, although less quality-controlled, source of information. Furthermore, guidelines for the care and use of animals in research have been produced both by regulatory bodies and scientific organisations. The growth of the internet has put an enormous amount of data into the public domain, and the problems of accessing relevant information are discussed. Suggestions are also given for search strategies when using these information sources.

Keywords: animal welfare, database, guidelines, information centre, laboratory animal welfare, Three Rs

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An illustration that statistical design mitigates environmental variation and ensures unambiguous study conclusions

 

KH Gore and PJ Stanley

 

Abstract

This paper highlights the essential need for appropriate statistical design and randomisation in laboratory animal studies. Using an example of a 21 day weight gain study in mice, we show that without the use of an appropriate statistical design and randomisation, incorrect conclusions may have been drawn. We used an experimental design that allowed comparisons to be made between five treatments that were free from systematic error. Two alternative designs that are practically attractive, yet had no statistical basis, are also described in this paper and the potentially incorrect conclusions highlighted. The use of appropriate statistical design is ethical because it results in clear, unambiguous conclusions. Conclusions that may be biased or ambiguous will require verification by further research and this, in the long term, is contrary to the reduction element of the Three Rs.

Keywords: animal welfare, environmental variation, Latin Square, reduction, statistical design, Three Rs

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The Three Rs in the pharmaceutical industry: perspectives of scientists and regulators

 

NP Fenwick and D Fraser

 

Abstract

Six drug regulatory reviewers and 11 pharmaceutical industry scientists were interviewed to explore their perspectives on the obstacles and opportunities for greater implementation of the Three Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) in drug research and development. Participants generally supported the current level of animal use in the pharmaceutical industry and viewed in vitro methods as supporting, but not replacing, the use of animals. Obstacles to greater use of the Three Rs cited by participants included the lack of non-animal alternatives; requirements for statistical validity; reluctance by industry and regulators to depart from established patterns of animal use; the priority of commercial objectives ahead of the Three Rs; and concern that less animal testing could jeopardise human safety. Opportunities identified for the Three Rs included the development of better animal models including genetically modified (GM) animals; pursuit of more basic knowledge, notably drug action on gene expression; re-use of animals; greater use of pilot studies; using sufficient numbers of animals per test to avoid repeating inconclusive studies; regular review of animal data in regulatory requirements; and following the regulatory option of combining segments of reproductive toxicology studies into one study. In some areas, greater implementation of the Three Rs seemed well aligned with industry priorities, for example, phenotypic characterisation of GM animals and validation of alternative methods. In other areas, wider use of the Three Rs may require building consensus on areas of disagreement including the usefulness of death as an endpoint; the suitability of re-using animals; and whether GM animals and the use of pilot studies contribute to reduction.

Keywords: animal welfare, drug development, in vitro methods, pharmaceutical industry, Three Rs; toxicology

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Harmonising the definition of refinement

 

HM Buchanan-Smith, AE Rennie, A Vitale, S Pollo, MJ Prescott and DB Morton

 

Abstract

Russell and Burch’s Three Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) remain the cornerstone for principles guiding humane experimental research. However, the concept of refinement has evolved considerably since its first inception and there have been numerous interpretations, some of which are regressive from the original definition. In this paper we examine the interpretations of refinement, and propose a harmonised progressive definition that is in line with changes in animal ethics and animal welfare science. Our definition should be applied to all aspects of refinement: those related to housing, husbandry and care, techniques used in scientific procedures, periprocedural care, health and welfare monitoring, and experimental design. We argue not only that the concept should include the avoidance or minimisation of adverse effects experienced at any time during the life of an animal destined for use in a laboratory, but also that it should be applied to the founder animals. Furthermore, we take a proactive stance and argue that refinement should include enhancing well-being through environmental enrichment. The acceptance and application of this new definition by legislative authorities and in guidelines would represent a significant step forward for animal welfare.

Keywords: animal welfare, housing and husbandry, laboratory animals, refinement, scientificprocedures, Three Rs

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