Refinement Database

Database on Refinement of Housing, Husbandry, Care, and Use of Animals in Research

This database, created in 2000, is updated every three months with newly published scientific articles, books, and other publications related to improving or safeguarding the welfare of animals used in research.

Links to the full text for publications that appear in open access journals or are published on the AWI website are provided under the abstract.

Tips for using the database:

  • This landing page displays all of the publications in the database.
  • Use the drop-down menus to filter these publications by Animal Type and/or Topic.
  • Clicking on a parent category (e.g., Rodent) will include publications relating to all the items in that category (e.g., Chinchilla, Gerbil, Guinea pig, etc.).
  • You may also add a keyword to further narrow your search.
  • Please note that at this time, only publications dated 2010 or later (with some exceptions) can be filtered by Animal Type and Topic. Most publications older than 2010 can only be searched by keyword. 
Stress during handling can negatively impact the welfare of an animal. Gradual habituation or systematic desensitisation can reduce this but is not always possible. Blindfolding has been shown to decrease stress indicators, including heart rate...
Species-specific welfare indicators are important in promoting positive welfare for zoo animals. Reptiles are a notoriously understudied group in regards to behavior, welfare needs, and husbandry requirements. Using opportunistically obtained samples, we evaluated how blood...
In conventional rearing systems, fast-growing broiler chickens commonly experience welfare issues, such as contact dermatitis, walking difficulties or a lack of expression of species-specific behaviours. Enriching their environment may be a way to improve their...
Based on queries received during our 2021 LASA 3Rs’ presentation, we describe operational highlights and concerns that came up during the rollout of nonaversive handling as standard of care at our mouse breeding facility. We...
Surveys provide a low-cost means to obtain large amounts of data that are ideal for conducting exploratory research, and they are becoming an increasingly valuable tool in a veterinary context. We investigated whether surveys of...
As part of our commitment to continuous improvement of laboratory animal welfare, the North American 3Rs Collaborative (NA3RsC) brought together several experts to examine the evidence, impact, and practicality of alternative methods for picking up...
Non-aversive handling is a well-documented refinement measure for improving rodent welfare. Because maternal stress is related to reduced productivity, we hypothesized that welfare benefits associated with non-aversive handling would translate to higher production and fewer...
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are an economically and ecologically important fish species that interact with humans during farming, fishing and research operations. Routine handling in nets exposes fish to mesh and causes scale loss. To...
The concept of the 3Rs (Refinement, Reduction and Replacement) has been used as a framework for improving the welfare of laboratory animals for the last half century. By establishing an animal-centric view on housing and...
The RSPCA/UFAW rodent and rabbit welfare group has held a one-day meeting every autumn for the last 27 years, so that its members can discuss current welfare research, exchange views on welfare issues and share...
Access to pasture is a main benefit of free-range broiler housing systems, yet the level of outdoor stocking density on broiler animal welfare remains unsettled. The growth, feather damage, pasture ranging and behaviors were assessed...
This study aimed to define appropriate humane endpoints (HEs) for an animal model of colorectal carcinogenesis (CRC). Twenty-nine male Wistar rats were divided into two control groups (CTRL1 and CTRL2) injected with ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid...
In this Opinion paper, we consider whether current methods of tickling overemphasize the use of pinning (Figure 1) to which there may be a wider response variation than commonly acknowledged. We do not dispute that...
Appropriate end-points are integral to the refinement of laboratory animal experiments. Our recent experience has highlighted that ambiguity around end-points is hampering their adoption in experiments that cause severe suffering to fish. In toxicology, the...
The increasing potential for radiation exposure from nuclear accidents or terrorist activities has intensified the need to develop pharmacologic countermeasures against injury from total body irradiation (TBI). Many initial experiments to develop and test these...
Adolescence is a critical period of establishing social relations through social interactions that affect the emotional development associated with stress responses, anxiety, depression, and cognitive development. We investigated the behavioral and neurobiological changes induced by...
Despite the widely used application of standardized capture-handling protocols to collect blood and assess the physiological stress response, the actual sampling design (e.g., timing and the number of blood samples) often differs between studies, and...
The key to non-aversive methods of handling lies in understanding what capture method creates the least anxiety in mice: be this tunnel or cupping or another method. It is important that we do not get...
Barren housing and high stocking densities may contribute to negative affective states in broiler chickens, reducing their welfare. We investigated the effects of environmental complexity and stocking density on broilers’ attention bias (measure of anxiety)...
Resting behaviours make up a large part of the daily time budget of broilers. However, in intensive broiler production systems disruptions of resting behaviours occur, where resting individuals get disturbed by active individuals. Such interruptions...
The Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) is a solitary and naturally territorial animal, with female hamsters being more aggressive than males. This behavior makes handling difficult because they are usually housed in groups, which can lead...
Background: Animal models used to study pathologies requiring rehabilitation therapy, such as cardiovascular and neurologic disorders or oncologic disease, must be as refined and translationally relevant as possible. Sometimes, however, experimental procedures such as those...
In oncology research, while xenograft tumor models are easily visualized and humane endpoints can be clearly defined, metastatic tumor models are often based on more subjective clinical observations as endpoints. This study aimed at identifying...
Handling laboratory animals for husbandry and other procedures can be an important source of anxiety and stress, compromising animal welfare as well as the reliability of research that is sensitive to background stressors. Studies have...
Cancer-bearing mice are at risk of developing anxiety, pain, or malaise. These conditions may not only harm welfare but could also undermine data quality and translational validity in studies to develop therapeutic interventions. We aimed...

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