Refinement: Animal technologists and veterinarians
Refinement can be thought of as any measure that will reduce suffering or improve welfare; this can be in relation to scientific procedures, housing, transport, husbandry procedures , the animals’ environment, welfare assessment, humane endpoints or humane killing techniques. Animal technologists and veterinarians represent valuable sources of advice for researchers with respect to all of these, provided there is a good culture of care including effective communication channels.
Effective evaluation of refinement depends on sound understandings of the normal physiology and behaviour of the species and strain, which behaviours are natural and desirable, and how these can be recognised and monitored. Animal technologists and veterinarians should be ideally placed to advise on all of this, and there should be opportunities for animal technologists and veterinarians to discuss potential refinements with researchers during the project planning stage. The AWERB/AWB should also provide a forum for identifying and discussing refinements and their evaluation throughout the project and at mid- or end-term reviews.
There are a number of sources of information on refinement that may be useful to animal technologists and veterinarians:
- RSPCA user-friendly check sheets on housing, husbandry and care of a range of commonly-used species, plus refining cage change and humane killing, can be downloaded on our Housing, husbandry and care page
- BVA(AWF)/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW Joint Working Group on Refinement (JWGR) reports address refinements in both procedures and housing and care
- RSPCA/UFAW Rodent Welfare Group meetings
- UFAW/RSPCA report on Refining Rabbit Care
- RSPCA resources on housing, husbandry and care of Zebra danio and Xenopus spp
- RSPCA/APHA meetings on the Welfare of Farm Animals in Research
- UK NC3Rs Resource Hub
- Norecopa 3R Guide
- Animal Welfare Institute Enrichment and Refinement Databases
See also the list of journals on the Societies, Organisations, User Groups and Journals page - your Named Information Officer and AWERB should have access to these.