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Farm animals in research

Significant numbers of agricultural animals are used in experiments, for example in the research and development of vaccines against diseases such as bovine tuberculosis. They are also used in human medical and veterinary research, and in studies aiming to improve their productivity or to better understand their behaviour and welfare.

Sheep with lamb © RSPCA Photolibrary

A workshop on the care and use of agricultural animals in research, held by the Norwegian Consensus Platform on Alternatives (Norecopa) in 2012, recommended that there should be more discussion forums and meetings on the 3Rs for all those involved in the care and use of these species.

The RSPCA and APHA* (formerly AHVLA) have taken this forward by holding two meetings on the Welfare of Agricultural Animals in Research, in June 2013 and September 2014.

Sharing ideas on welfare and the 3Rs

RSPCA/AHVLA meeting on agricultural animals used in research (June 2013)

Meeting topics have included presentations on emotions in farm animals, clicker training for pigs, achieving good welfare standards for animals in vaccine research, reducing suffering in avian influenza research, replacing farm animals in education, and assessing and alleviating suffering. The meetings also included poster sessions and plenty of opportunities to make new contacts and to share ideas about welfare and the 3Rs.

Both meetings were attended by over 80 delegates, including animal technologists, researchers, veterinarians and students, from a wide range of establishments within the UK and overseas. Reports of both meetings, including action points, have been published in the journal Animal Technology and Welfare (and are freely available for download below).

Further meetings are planned and the RSPCA and APHA are keen to receive ideas for presentations or discussion topics. If you have any ideas, please contact us.

More information 

*Animal & Plant Health Agency, an executive agency sponsored by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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