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Animal Welfare - Book Reviews

Volume 31 
Issue 4
November 2022

 

 

 

 

 


Key Questions in Animal Behaviour and Welfare: A Study and Revision Guide

PA Rees (2022). Published by CABI Publishing, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8DE, UK. 256 pages Paperback (ISBN: 978-1789248975). Price £13.07.

 

As a lecturer who has recently taken over a large module on animal behaviour partly assessed through multiple choice questions (MCQs) and knowing how difficult it is to write good MCQs, let alone have spare left over for students to practice, I leapt at the chance to review this book.

As the blurb states, it is aimed at students and could be a very good study/revision guide. It covers a range of commonly covered (indeed essential) topics on animal behaviour and welfare and comprises three levels of question difficulty.

While it is all MCQs, there is the opportunity to look up the correct answers in the back, which importantly gives additional detail and rationale to that being the correct answer. Thus, integrating feedback and indeed additional knowledge acquisition.

A broad range of animal categories are used in the examples: companion, farm, wild, zoo and lab, making the content appealing to a range of students. For example, on our modules we have to find examples of relevance to animal scientists, zoologists, biologists through to environmental scientists and agriculture students. There are however some examples that are rather specific to, what I imagine, Paul Rees has used in his lectures. So, if you are a lecturer, recommend this book to your students with the caveat that they are not expected to know all the examples (or, more importantly, that as a lecturer you are not selling them short if you have not given those examples: we might not all have covered comparisons between hippopotamus’ and domestic cats’ social habits, or equations to calculate indices of association). Explain to the students that this is a learning opportunity to go away and find out more. There are lots of interesting examples, and even as a book of MCQs you are drawn into the quizzes to test your own knowledge and learn more.

The section on issues with experimental design is very good especially for students planning animal behaviour-based dissertations to gain confidence that they understand methods of measurement and experimental design.

Much work has been expended at my university to seek to decolonise the curriculum: to try to ensure that those individuals flagged as key contributors to the discipline are increasingly role models that we can all identify with, from a variety of backgrounds and areas of the globe. We are trying to move away from using names of scientists as ‘fathers’ of a topic or even key contributors (who knew Darwin had such thoughts about the intelligence of women and other races), so it is worth noting that many scientists are named in the book and credited with their theories, which could be seen as not embracing the ‘decol’ curriculum.

Leaving this aside, I will be recommending that our library get copies of this book and hopefully it will be possible to digitalise some of these questions into our Virtual Learning Environment to entice students to use the resource which will help them engage and develop confidence in their knowledge and its application.

Overall, I think this is a very useful book of thought-provoking questions and explanations, helping students and academics alike. The questions are a culmination of a lot of pedagogic enterprise, which is now available for others to use. Well done Paul Rees and thank you for sharing.

Catherine Douglas,
Newcastle University, UK


Preslaughter Handling and Slaughter of Meat Animals

Edited by L Faucitano (2022). Published by Wageningen Publishers, PO Box 220, 6700 AE Wageningen, The Netherlands. 436 pages Hardback (ISBN: 978-90-8686-372-3). Price €99.00.

 

 

This textbook provides a science-based overview and detailed description of procedures and management typical for the pre-slaughter period, as well as stunning and killing, in several animal species destined for meat production.

The book consists of ten well-written chapters, covering the scientific knowledge about slaughter and the pre-slaughter period for farmed fishes (the animal group slaughtered in highest numbers), mammalian and avian species traditionally included in human diets (cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, broilers, end-of-lay hens and turkeys) as well as minor species, such as game, ostriches, kangaroos and South American camelids.

Across the involved species, the book describes the final phase in the lives of the animals, including aspects relevant for animal welfare, meat quality, hygiene and productivity. The concern for animal welfare is not always given first priority in the written recommendations (eg in terms of pre-slaughter feed withdrawal or use of lairage). This, however, leaves the book practically relevant, as concerns for animal welfare typically do not stand-alone in real life either. Thus, even though it – at first glance – may seem surprising that ‘animal welfare’ is not included in the title of the book, it is fully justified by the practical approach and the integrated agenda of the book.

As regards to content, the book is divided into three parts – a first chapter reviewing how aspects of animal welfare and stress can be quantified across species by use of behavioural, physiological and carcase/meat quality measures. The second part consists of eight chapters, each covering one or a few animal species, and each describing typical animal management and handling from pre-transport, through transport, lairage, stunning and killing. Chapter 10 constitutes the third part. This chapter gives an overview of the history of animal slaughter and discusses the use of mobile abattoirs in terms of animal welfare, feasibility and sustainability.

The species-specific chapters are quite diverse and to some extent use different terminology or jargon, but the reader is helped by the use of cross-referencing between chapters. The cross-referencing is particularly advantageous between the more theoretical Chapter 1 and the following species-specific chapters. In general, Chapter 1 is highly technical, focusing on selected indicators of animal welfare and stress but giving limited attention to the concept of animal welfare as such. In the text describing the concept of ‘stress’, it is defined as “the state of the animal when it has difficulties to adapt to environmental or physical constraints.” To the best of my knowledge, there is no single agreed scientific definition of animal stress (it has been debated for decades, and still is), but the definition used in the chapter is different from several others used in animal welfare science today, which means that the chapter, to some extent, is not aligned with other literature in this area. Throughout the text, the chapter seeks to define complicated concepts such as ‘emotions’, ‘cognitive abilities’ and ‘consciousness’, for which textboxes are used, probably to indicate parts that are kind of supra-explanatory. However, this approach is not explained to readers and seems confusing, especially because it is not used in subsequent chapters. The chapter is really information dense, but not all sections seem directly relevant for the understanding of the biology, or welfare, of animals during the last days or hours of their life as meat-producing animals.

Overall, in my view, the content and concept of the book is novel, primarily because the species-specific chapters direct considerable attention to pre-transport, transport as well as pre-slaughter management and describe many procedures or management actions. To date, most textbooks focusing on this stage of animals’ lives have either covered handling and transport or stunning and killing, but this book covers it all, thereby providing the reader with an opportunity to learn about the entire process for many animal species. In this context it is worth mentioning that even though the title of the book is ‘handling’, in reality the text covers so much more than simply how humans handle animals, and this term seems to be used in its broadest sense here.

The species-specific chapters are written by scientists with species-specific expertise, working on different continents, but all focusing on animals kept for meat production. For most chapters, focus is given to animal management typical of one or a few parts of the world (eg the cattle chapter focuses on South and North America) which, as a total, gives the book a global perspective, and also encompasses, for example, extensively raised animals and game species. Each of the chapters contains photographs of different procedures. The chosen pictures seem in no way sanitised, but show realistic situations, thereby allowing the reader a graphical insight into actions taking place at this stage of the life of the animals, also when animal welfare is threatened as, for example, when cull dairy cows arrive non-ambulatory at markets. However, as pre-slaughter handling and management (and associated legislation) differ considerably between geographical regions and countries, it would have been an advantage for the international reader if the text pertaining to the pictures gave information about their geographical affiliation. A common feature of many of the pictures is their complexity which means that the average reader probably would have difficulty picking up the important points being relayed.

Each of the species-specific chapters can be read independently and provide a solid overview of the typically applied procedures and the knowledge about how these affect animal welfare, meat quality and productivity. The authors specify where the gaps in knowledge are. When reading more chapters, readers gain insight into nuances associated with the procedures that are typical across species, such as the use of pre-slaughter lairage, and the consequences in terms of animal welfare and meat quality.

Even though the book focuses on how animals are slaughtered conventionally, eg traditional livestock species, poultry and fishes, it also includes more atypical meat-producing species (eg farmed cervids or crocodiles), and also animals that are slaughtered in completely different ways, such as free-ranging African game species. In addition, the slaughter of animal categories of traditional meat species, the welfare of which are known to be challenged, such as end-of-lay hens, cull dairy cows or cull sows are also described. This diversity in species, animal categories and types of slaughter makes the book unique and provides the reader with an overview that is otherwise not easy to find. The book, however, does not contain a cross-species discussion of the different procedures in terms of animal welfare.

Across the involved animal species, the book sheds light upon what happens to animals in the interval from being ‘on-farm’ and until the final journey to the abattoir starts – such as stays at markets, auctions or assembly barns. This phase of the pre-slaughter logistic chain has only received very superficial scientific attention and is often afforded little attention in textbooks on animal slaughter, despite obvious animal welfare challenges.

The species-specific chapters dealing with species traditionally slaughtered for human consumption are primarily based on knowledge that can be referenced back to scientific studies. For the minor species, or animal categories, such as game species, the character of the book changes (maybe because of the very limited scientific literature available), and it is based more on recommendations or practical advice from the authors. In addition, the terminology used in the chapters dealing with the minor species differs somewhat from the others (eg the use of the term ‘harvesting’ to describe hunting or slaughtering). From an animal welfare perspective, such de-animalised terms (although probably professional jargon), makes it more difficult for the untrained reader to understand the processes taking place. The chapters describe hunting types that can be controversial (eg, helicopter culling or night culling) from a very functional perspective, but these are not, or only very superficially, discussed in terms of animal welfare.

The last chapter of the book could also have been the first, as this text looks back but also ahead in time. It might, thus, be advantageous to read this chapter first – also from an educational context – since it provides a very nice historical overview of the development from slaughtering single animals to sustain families to the industrial-scale slaughter of today. This is the first time the concept of ethics is introduced; prior to this point animal welfare is mainly described in terms of accommodating requests from consumers. The chapter acquaints the reader with more socio-economical aspects of animal slaughter, including a review of how slaughterhouses emerged as a unique institution in the early 19th century as part of a large transition from an agrarian to an industrial system, accompanied by increased urbanisation and technological advancements, and how they went from objects of city pride to largely being hidden away in large plants, that are seldom or never visited by ordinary people.

This book, however, does the opposite of hiding what goes on when animals are slaughtered for human consumption. As demonstrated above, the book uses words and pictures to describe the involved processes – and is a great example to follow for its openness and transparency. Although the different procedures tend not to be discussed primarily in terms of animal welfare, the manner in which they are presented cleverly integrates concerns related to welfare, meat quality and productivity, imbuing the reader with a concise understanding of why the different processes are performed as they are.

In conclusion, Preslaughter Handling and Slaughter of Meat Animals is a comprehensive book that would be a valuable addition to the library of those with an interest in how animals killed for human consumption are managed, and how these processes relate to animal welfare, meat quality and productivity. Parts of the book are not easily accessible due to the high technical level which perhaps preclude its effectiveness as a stand-alone for beginners or a broad readership. For those who can understand the technical terminology (such as students being schooled in animal production) the book offers a unique, open, science-based overview of procedures and practices, and why they are carried out, when different animal species are killed for their meat.

Mette S Herskin,
Aarhus University, Denmark


Much Like Us: What Science Reveals about the Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviour of Animals

N Sachser (2022). Translated from the German by Ruby Bilger. Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge CB2 1SZ, UK. 154 pages Hardback (ISBN: 978-1-108-83849-8). Price: £17.99.

 

 

Guinea pigs were how Norbert Sachser found his way into behavioural biology. In the l970s as a student he was taught that when a population increases and space becomes scarce, stress levels in humans and mammals rise. Individuals become more aggressive, mothers less caring and health declines within the population. This pattern had been observed in mice, rats and rabbits, so young Sachser decided to study it in guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs, however, showed none of the signs of the expected density stress. They seemed happy crowded together in their enclosure. They formed themselves into stable bonded groups of a manageable size and the alpha males in each group rarely fought each other. About this time measuring the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, became available and Sachser’s guinea pigs had normal levels whether they were top of or low down in the hierarchy - as long as the group was stable.

What was buffering the individuals against density stress were stable social bonds. Taken out of his group and put in a new group or paired with a strange female, a male guinea pig had soaring cortisol levels. Taken out of the group in the company of a bonded comrade, his stress levels were buffered. Individual behaviour and stress levels were also strongly affected by their early social experience with their own kind. Guinea pigs brought up in large groups could cope better with joining a new group.

To some readers of Sachser’s book this will not be news, because studying species-specific societies and stressors should be part of any university’s syllabus. However, his theme is to show not just how there has been a revolution in our scientific study of animal behaviour, but also to give a summary of the major changes in our understanding. His relatively short book takes a wide look at the changes and how they occurred.

From Aristotle onwards, human supremacism has seen animals as separate from and lower in value than humans. It is a view still widely held not least because it makes both scientists and non-scientists feel more comfortable in their use of animals for food, research and entertainment. In the early years of the last century it allowed biologists to ignore Darwin’s book on animal behaviour, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, while reverencing his On the Origin of Species, even though this in a different way highlights the similarities between humans and the other mammals.

Sachser’s first chapter takes the reader briskly through the history of behaviour studies, through the emphasis on fixed action patterns of animal instinctive behaviour studied by ethologist Konrad Lorenz and through Nikolaas Tinbergen’s work including his basic framework of the four questions about behaviour – mechanism, ontogeny, function and phylogeny. After the guinea pig chapter on behaviour and stress he moves onto the next chapter on emotions and well-being, focusing on the complications of assessing welfare from observations of an animal’s behaviour and touching on displacement and vacuum behaviours, stereotypies and play. The super-enriched housing that he and a research team designed for laboratory mice not only reduced aggression between the inmates but also encouraged play. (I looked up an illustration in one of his papers and it really was super-enriched with platforms, ladders, and climbing frames). He also mentions preference tests and cognitive bias (whether an animal is depressed or optimistic) testing, warning against the simplistic idea that conditions in the wild are a blueprint for good welfare in domestic species. This chapter is less about animal emotions, more a beginners’ guide to welfare assessment.

If I was left wanting more in that welfare chapter, it is because there are huge topics to follow, and this is a book with broad brush strokes. In the next chapter, ‘Nature versus nurture’, he outlines the historical conflict between ethologists’ emphasis on innate behaviour and the behaviourists’ focus on learning. He points out, for instance, that there seems to be an innate human response to a baby’s face, triggered in the same area of the brain that in an alcoholic is activated by a whisky bottle! His historical approach allows him to move from the early behavioural insights laboriously gained from cross-breeding species to observe the behaviour of the offspring, to modern behavioural genetics. In a mere 20 pages the reader moves from pigeons Jack and Jill, trained to tell each other which button to press for a food reward, to epigenetic changes in a grandfather’s sperm! The interplay between genetics and environment has come up with some amazing examples where an animal’s experiences can change not only its own DNA but that of its offspring. If a male mouse is taught to avoid a particular scent, his offspring will be hypersensitive to the same scent, and even the next generation has the same scent sensitivity.

From there it is just a chapter step to animal cognition. From personal experience I know how boring and even mystifying learning theory can be to those who are not committed dog trainers. Sachser introduces the reader to this topic by starting with a good animal story - Rico, the border collie, that could recognise the word for about 77 different toys and fetch the correct one, then leading onto the familiar tale of Pavlovian associative learning and operant conditioning. Earlier attempts to study animal thinking at the start of the last century had given way to strict behaviourism, with its emphasis on studying outward behaviour only. Behaviourists had little or no interest in an animal’s inner mental processes, until at end of the l980s an American zoologist, Donald Griffin, raised it in a book about animal thinking. Now there is a specialist journal, Animal Cognition, devoted to the topic and the hours committed to conditioning pigeons to play football are now spent studying tool use, animal culture and whether a species can recognise itself in a mirror.

Even so, neither mirror self-recognition nor tool use are easy areas from which to make inferences about animal intelligence. The book takes us through the mirror self-recognition test. Very young children and most mammals do not recognise their own image in a mirror and react as if their reflection is another animal. In the classic mirror test, a coloured spot is painted on the animal’s body in an area where it cannot be seen by that animal, except in a mirror. An animal that recognises itself in a mirror will then try to touch or examine that spot on its body. So far, elephants, great apes, dolphins and magpies have shown they can recognise their own reflection. There is, however, an argument, made after this book was originally written, that a mirror test is not fair to some animals. Dogs, for instance, can distinguish the scent of their own urine from that of other dogs and perhaps this too is evidence of some degree of self-recognition. Tool use may also be a poor measure of cognition, as it has been claimed for both ants and crocodiles. Reptiles and insects are not within the boundaries of this book, but this chapter does mention the surprising cognitive abilities of birds. Darwin’s tree of life metaphor, popularised with humans at its apex of cognitive evolution, is beginning to look somewhat anthropocentric.

For me, one of the most interesting chapters was the sixth which deals with animal individuality. In my area of interest, domestic cats, the individuality of their behaviour is essential for recognising good welfare. Once again, Sachser’s historical approach makes for clarity of understanding. Harry Harlow’s cruel experiments, in which he deprived rhesus monkeys of mothers, giving them instead a wire mother that produced milk, showed that mothering was more than simply lactation. Mothering by a parental figure of the same species (it need not be a biological mother) is important, enabling an individual to grow up as a balanced member of its own species: it can have lifelong effects on an individual temperament too. Indeed, even before birth pre-natal experiences in the womb due to the physical and social welfare of the mother, can influence lifelong behaviour. Sachser’s colleague, Sylvia Kaiser, found that female guinea pigs born to a mother who had lived in an unstable environment while pregnant, grew up to show masculine behaviour. The pre-natal environment of the mother had also affected her male offspring who were slow to mature and ‘infantilised.’ This was the result of her surging stress hormones affecting the fetuses in her womb, during her pregnancy in a difficult environment. Thus, the offspring were being adapted to the unstable environment, in which assertiveness in the female might be an advantage while infantile behaviour on the part of a male might appease rival males, giving the individual time to mature into an alpha male.

Given similar experiences pre-natally and post-birth, if individual siblings differ from one another (and they do) then the genes they inherit must also play a part. The study of individual personalities in animals has also become part of modern behavioural biology. Insects, amphibians, sticklebacks and great tits have all shown evidence of long-lasting temperament differences between individuals. These differences show themselves early and persist over time. Even more fascinating were the results of a research investigation of 40 genetically identical female mice. These were kept in an enriched environment and, despite having the same genes and living in the same environment, different character traits emerged between the individuals. I would have liked more discussion of this amazing finding.

It is a bit of a jump from animal personalities to the chapter on sociobiology and the problem of altruism among animals. Sachser bypasses the controversy of how far sociobiology explains human behaviours, and simply takes the reader through Darwin’s theory of natural selection, called Darwinian fitness, whereby the genes of best adapted individuals are preserved in a population, and the genes of those less successful are not. Yet some individuals behave in an altruistic way – lions and mice will suckle the offspring of other females, for instance, when it would ‘pay’ them to concentrate only on their own offspring. Such altruism runs counter to the idea of the individual survival. However, at the level of gene rather than individual preservation, kinship can explain altruism. If animals act altruistically towards their relatives, they are helping preserve the genes that they have in common. This explains how wolves in a pack, usually a family group, will co-operate to rear the pups of the alpha female. Helpers that are not the pups’ parents but are the aunties and uncles or adult siblings of the pups, so share some of the family genes. Another explanation for altruistic behaviour among animals is that it is reciprocal: individuals will share food with an individual who will reciprocate in the future. You scratch my back, and I will scratch yours.

There is an intriguing twist in this chapter. If altruism is found among other warm-blooded mammals so is its opposite. Male lions taking over a pride of females will kill any cubs, so that the mothers are more quickly ready to mate and produce the new male’s offspring. There is conflict too among suckling siblings, if the mother’s milk is limited, sometimes resulting in death of the weakest. Adult males’ struggles in competition for females can be fatal while different groups of chimpanzees will engage in warfare that can result in the death of not just males but also females and children in the losing group. Nor are females the passive participants in sexual competition. When sexual behaviour is studied closely, what looks like male rivalry may be more a matter of female choice. Yellow-toothed guinea pig females, a species from the same cavy genus as the domestic guinea pig, give birth to young that have different fathers, increasing the likelihood that some at least will result from the best available male sperm.

My only criticisms of this book are that it has no index, the references given for each chapter are not numbered in the text, and no attempt has been made to translate even the easy German references. Otherwise, it is a remarkable tour d’horizon, accessible to the common reader, prepared to google the occasional science word, and remarkably cheap for a hardback. If I had had this book some years ago when I was an applied animal behaviour student, it would have put the different lectures I attended into one coherent whole. As Sachser declares: “the more we investigate, and the closer we look, the more we see the humanity in our fellow creatures.” This closeness between human and beast has important implications for animal welfare.

Celia Haddon,
Cirencester, UK


Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science: Essential Principles and Practices, 4th edition

Edited by J Hau and SJ Schapiro (2021). Published by CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL 33487, USA. 994 pages Hardback (ISBN: 978-1138341807). Price £141.64.

 

 

This is the revised 4th edition of the well-regarded handbook, first published in 1994. This edition is bound as a single volume, rather than the previous three-volume format, which is welcomed in making it easier to manage and navigate.

Within the single volume, the book is divided into four sections: ‘Principles of laboratory animal science’, ‘Practices’, ‘Animal models’, and ‘Structures.’ The book’s editors, Professors Jann Hau and Steven Schapiro, have assembled contributions from over 90 expert authors in the field, with chapters focusing on specific aspects of laboratory animal care and use, as well as more broadly on some basic principles relevant to the field.

The intention is that individual chapters can be read as stand-alone texts on the particular subject, so that the reader can easily find up-to-date and relevant information on the topic of interest and this design works well to produce a reader-friendly handbook of reference.

Part 1 – Principles of laboratory animal science

In keeping with the 3Rs as the starting point for considering all animal-based research, the book begins with a chapter on ethical issues, including discussion of deontological and utilitarian approaches, before developing the latter in discussion of maximising benefits of the research whilst minimising harms to animals. Garner’s therioepistemological approach to analysis of the validity of a proposed model and its imperfections is discussed, together with the current issues of communicating results effectively, including infrequent publication of negative data. The concept of harm-benefit analysis is discussed in light of the ‘Five Freedoms’, although discussion regarding the evaluation of positive welfare attributes (rather than just freedom from negative ones) and more recent concept of ensuring that animals have ‘a life worth living’ would have enhanced this section and brought it up-to-date.

Following on from this, the subsequent chapter considers the 3Rs of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal use, describing the legislative requirements in a variety of jurisdictions. A useful addition would be the inclusion of the most modern definitions of each of the 3Rs. Helpfully, the chapter examines not only applications in research and safety testing but also in education and training where, until now, progress on replacement technologies has been relatively slow. The chapter concludes that the search for, and implementation of, alternatives has so far not been effective enough and that further effort and research is required.

The well-explained and very readable chapter on experimental design explains in detail how the good design of experiments is essential for obtaining meaningful data and emphasises the need to take expert advice from a statistician before commencing any work: “statistics is a rigorous way of describing nature.” The consequences of poor design, including under-powering groups, are reviewed and it is noted that poor statistical analysis will also harm the outcomes. The chapter explains considerations both for design and statistical treatment of data, including the importance of setting out (and sticking to) a hypothesis.

The following chapter reviews the behavioural needs and management of laboratory animals, although there is relatively brief consideration of mice and zebrafish, considering that these are the most commonly used species in biomedical research. However, there’s excellent reference to the Swedish RISE centre, which is leading the way in co-operative working with small rodents. A fuller consideration of the effect on welfare and/or scientific outcome, where behavioural needs are not met, would have been helpful here, although this is considered later in Part 2.

Assessment of welfare throughout the animal’s life is discussed, including the contingent suffering that may occur due to non-procedural harms, such as transport, breeding and husbandry practices. There is a practical discussion about use of scoring sheets, with a worked example, which can assist researchers and animal carers devise a system to more objectively assess welfare.

Part 2 – Practices

This is a very pragmatic section, which examines how the animal’s macro- and micro-environment and specific study practices can impact significantly on both study data and animal welfare.

The chapter on animal health details the reasons for and methods of, health monitoring, including information about individual potential pathogens in various laboratory animal species. It properly distinguishes health status from microbiome, including explanation about the potential importance of the latter in reproducibility of studies and suggests that the researcher should seek expert advice in this field.

An updated section on nutrition applies current knowledge to the research environment, emphasising how contaminants, bioactive ingredients, processing and storage can also impact research data and examines factors that contribute to the good health and welfare of the animal.

An excellent chapter on facility design and management aims to provide the reader with a better understanding of function and operation of a modern animal facility, enabling control of environmental variables, promoting well-being of the animals, while providing a suitable working environment for the humans. Considerations for conventional, barrier and containment facilities are discussed. Having a good understanding of the facility in which studies are conducted is essential for researchers and such practical and detailed advice on this subject is welcomed, given the current crisis in reproducibility of animal experiments.

Chapter 9 reviews genetically altered (GA) mice, providing a clear and comprehensive explanation of the methods used to create altered genome, including conditional mutations, which allow the mouse to live normally until the gene switch is activated, therefore bringing some welfare benefits. Breeding strategy is mentioned in terms of producing the desired genetic alteration, although recommendations for efficient breeding strategies (or references to published guidance) would perhaps have been helpful here, to guide users in minimising the number of mice bred.

Whilst this chapter covers GA mice very comprehensively, there is no mention here (and very little elsewhere in the handbook) about the use of GA zebrafish, which seems a significant omission, given the increasing importance of zebrafish in various fields of research.

The other chapters in this section cover common procedures for handling of, and administering substances to animals, as well as for taking samples, such as blood and urine. Good practice in non-aversive methods of handling mice is illustrated, explaining the consequences on study data if mice are made anxious by use of the tail to capture them. A comprehensive variety of methods of blood sampling are listed; however, some guidance as to the preferred method in terms of potential welfare consequences of, for example, retro-orbital sinus sampling, would enable the reader to make a sensible choice of method while implementing Refinement of the blood sampling procedure.

Anaesthesia, analgesia and euthanasia are discussed in detail, together with information about agents and regimes that could be used for aquatic species and birds, as well as mammals. The use of illustrations is excellent. Reference is made to pain scoring animals, post-procedure, in order to determine their analgesic needs, using methods such as the ‘Grimace Scales’, bringing up-to-date methodologies to the reader.

Surgical procedures are also covered here, emphasising the need for good design and adequate preparation of the facilities, as well as attention to ensuring asepsis at all stages. The chapter does weigh more heavily on the side of larger animals, although rodent surgery is also covered. The authors emphasise that standards of practice should be similar for all species, large or small, and that tuition from experts in up-to-date methods is essential in ensuring success and reproducibility of models and to prevent unnecessary suffering.

Use of telemetry devices to monitor animals is covered in this section’s final chapter, explaining the use of these wireless technologies to provide a less stressful method of collecting data on physiological parameters.

Part 3 – Models

This section covers a wide variety of animal models, including neurological, behavioural, pain, fetal development, biodefence, metabolic, cardiovascular, oncology, pharmacology, hearing and infection studies. An omission is that no ageing models (and relatively little discussion of neurodegenerative models) are included here, although they are becoming more commonly studied conditions. The specialist authors from the fields consider in detail the principles and problems of the various models within each of the disciplines, providing a large number of references for further reading. Both large and small animal species’ models are included, although there is relatively little consideration of the range of zebrafish models in this context.

Besides using laboratory species to study induced disease, some of the chapters also point to the possible study of naturally occurring conditions in domestic animals, particularly where they may be related to genetics and breeding. The ethical controls and permissions needed for such studies are considered, together with the potential direct advantages to the animal of new treatments.

There is perhaps some conflation of the ‘ARRIVE Guidelines’ (for reporting studies) with the regulations required for conduct of animal studies (which set out the requirement for conduct of a study). Much of this toxicology chapter refers to the various Regulatory guidelines, including OECD series 19 and its inclusion of defined humane endpoints. A suggestion is that this section would benefit from more detail about pros and cons of the currently available non-animal alternatives to some of the current tests, reflecting the huge efforts that have been applied to find non-animal methods in safety and other types of study.

Part 4 – Structures and legislation

Research is a global business, with collaborations and contracts extending across borders, but the permissive legislation varies according to country and culture, so the animal user must be familiar with local laws and requirements. In the first chapter of this section, the authors succinctly explain the main points of legislation in regions including the EU, USA, Far East, Latin and South America, providing details of the history of the legislation and its requirements in various countries. The essential role of properly defined regulations as a means of promoting public confidence in animal research, as well as for proper control of practices, is highlighted.

Besides National legislation, three main external quality systems may be applied to animal research, including ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), AAALAC International (Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Lab Animal Care facilities) and GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) and these are highlighted in their role as ensuring a recognised standard, complementary to National government inspections.

This handbook is very helpful in signposting sources of information, education and further support for those working in in vivo research – the brief but useful section on service organisations gives details of a number of national and international organisations, including those with primarily professional, scientific and animal welfare aims. The role of ICLAS (International Council for Lab Animal Science) is highlighted as an umbrella organisation, as well as organisations which accredit training and competence.

The legal requirements for education and training of those working with animals in research are set out in Chapter 37, pointing out that all national legislations agree that individuals must have appropriate skills and qualifications in their research roles. The chapter sets out neatly the main requirements of legislation in the EU and USA, again signposting the reader to training resource organisations where they can obtain further information.

This well thought out handbook concludes with a short chapter on Refinement and Reduction of animals in research: pointing out that the vast majority of animals experience very little suffering or distress, the authors suggest that particular focus should be on those animals who may experience pain or suffering and that the overall aim should be that all animals used in research should be provided with as high a quality of life as possible.

Overall, this is an excellent, authoritative book, updated to reflect current good practice and full of practical details and information. I would highly recommend it to anyone involved in any research-related role, including PIs, junior researchers, animal technicians, facility managers, welfare scientists and veterinarians.

Lucy Whitfield,
OWL Vets, UK


Understanding the Bird of Prey

N Fox (2022). Published by Cambria Publishing, Llandeilo, UK. 554 pages Hardback (ISBN: 9780957679139). Price £120.00.

 

 

 

As a budding falconer and, later, a specialist avian vet, the first edition of Dr Nick Fox’s Understanding the Bird of Prey has always held a prominent position in my library of falconry texts. The book was unique in breaking from the traditions of many other ‘how to’ falconry guides which proposed rigid ‘training systems’ that fail to address the individuality of raptors and the variations that occur in their training and management. Many technological, medical, husbandry and training advancements have been made since publication of the first edition, many of which have contributed to improved welfare.

Dr Fox’s updated text aims to provide the basic principles that can be applied flexibly to a wide range of scenarios encountered by a falconer. Advances in technology have enabled the book to be published in both electronic and paper forms. In addition, links are provided to a series of ten films that accompany the text and provide a very helpful visual aid to learning.

The author himself needs little introduction to those with an interest in raptors. As a practising falconer and biologist, Dr Nick Fox has been involved in conservation since 1975. He has been instrumental in several significant advancements in falconry training and welfare; most recently the development of robotic prey for falcons. He earned his PhD with work on the New Zealand falcon and has been widely published in the scientific literature.

In the first chapter, Dr Fox addresses the anatomy and physiology of raptors. His comprehensive descriptions provide a solid foundation for assisting in the detection of abnormalities. For example, without a detailed understanding of feather growth and the order of feather development, it may not be possible to identify a potential problem during the moult.

With a clear practical focus, Chapter 2 covers captive breeding programmes and the current issues surrounding modern raptor propagation. Discussing the selection of appropriate birds, Dr Fox addresses the prevention of inbreeding by looking at relatedness and how to ensure the health of birds, whether being kept in natural pairs or through artificial insemination.

Appropriate accommodation and equipment are vital to ensure a captive bird has its welfare requirements met and these areas are addressed in detail. Other sections cover recent advancements in GPS telemetry and harnessing which have improved success rates in tracking lost birds and have also been a useful tool in assessing fitness and flight performance.

The section on imprinting and its practical use in falconry is welcomed. Imprinting is a controversial topic in the management of captive birds – with potential welfare considerations. The author highlights the benefits of dual imprinting. Imprinting and artificial insemination are important tools in conservation breeding and have been extended into producing birds (particularly hybrid falcons) for falconry. The author’s description of birds’ behaviour and methods of learning provides a sound basis for ensuring that training is conducted with due consideration for the birds’ welfare. The basic training methods covered in Chapter 5 are developed in Chapter 9 to cover some of the latest advancements in falconry: the use of drone, planes, and ropery (robotic models of birds that are radio-controlled and simulate prey). These methods have been used in veterinary practice to build the fitness of several wild, injured raptors prior to release, undoubtably improving the chances of wild survival.

Dr Fox has made significant revisions to his original text and has covered every aspect of the topic in impressive detail. While the comprehensive nature of the text might not suit those requiring a quick reference guide, the book is a thorough and erudite contribution to the topic that deserves a place on every falconer’s bookshelf.

Thomas Dutton,
Great Western Exotics, Swindon, UK

 

 

 


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