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. 

Cognitive challenges may provide a form of enrichment to improve the welfare of captive animals. Primates, dolphins, and goats will voluntarily participate in learning tasks suggesting that these are rewarding, but little work has been...

Pet rabbit welfare is a hidden crisis: Inappropriately housed, fed, and not routinely provided healthcare—rabbits can often suffer painful conditions and shortened lifespans. This study provides novel understanding of owners’ perceptions of rabbits’ mental capabilities...

Mechanical brushes allow cows to groom. Mange is common in indoor-housed cattle, and this affliction may affect cow motivation to use a mechanical brush. The aim of this study was to assess changes in dairy...

The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of environmental enrichment (EE), in the form of a cattle brush, on feedlot cattle behavior, productivity and stress physiology. Steers were blocked by weight...

In semi-natural mixed-sex groups, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) organize their social life by forming a hierarchy, which is characterized by linearity and stability. Compared to the natural environment, many factors are different in contemporary breeding systems...

Dehorning causes pain and distress to cattle, and there is a need to provide effective and practical analgesia to improve animal welfare. We conducted an experiment to determine the effect of a modified post-operative topical...

The quality of the social environment should be studied as one of the welfare components of dairy herds. Licking and preference between cows are important socio-positive experiences in this context.The aims of this study were...

The Becton Dickinson (BD) Research Animal Care Program has developed an acclimation and enrichment program that has enhanced animal welfare for studies requiring single housing, contributed to a culture of care, increased transparency, and improved...

Early cow–calf separation management induced various welfare problems for dairy calves. We mimicked the maternal licking by manually brushing right after the Holstein female calves were born and during their first week of life, termed...

Housing systems and environmental features can influence beef cattle welfare. To date, little information has been synthesized on this topic. The aim of this scoping review was to examine the relationship between housing and welfare...

In this preliminary study, we compared changes in mechanical nociceptive thresholds (MNT) of calves and goat kids injected with clove oil or isoeugenol under the horn bud as a potential, more welfare-friendly alternative to hot-iron...

This is the 5th volume of selected discussions that took place on the electronic Laboratory Animal Refinement & Enrichment Forum between February 2016 and December 2019. The forum was created in October 2002; it allows...

For gregarious species such as domestic cattle, the social environment is a very important determinant of their welfare and fitness. Understanding the complexity of cows' relationships can assist the development of management practices that are...

This article describes the steps for making a DIY guinea pig or rabbit cardboard foraging ball. Pictures are provided for each step as well as the completed ball. These cardboard foraging balls can be made...

Dairy housing systems can have major implications on how freely cows move within their environment and how fully they can express their behavioral repertoire, impacting overall welfare. To ensure housing systems are meeting the needs...

The aim of this research was to evaluate the possible usefulness of mirrors in improving rabbit behavior in a free-range breeding system. Three groups (each consisting of nine replicates of three animals) were compared: isolated...

In livestock farming, a stark or barren environment compromises animal welfare. Environmental enrichment has been used to address the issue. For this study, after fattening cattle were provided with a grooming device (a brush), its...

Little is known about the effect of shelter design on sheltering behavior in out-wintered cattle. In this pilot study, we explored the effects of two different shelter designs (rectangular: 50 m2 vs. hexagonal 53 m2...

The welfare impact of birth on newborn calves has rarely been studied. Dystocia in particular may have significant welfare costs for calves. While analgesia is sometimes provided to calves born to difficult parturition by veterinary...

Twenty-eight bulls weighing 227 ± 6.8 (SD) kg were randomly assigned to four concentrate levels (1-1.5 kg [low level of concentrate {LC}], 1.5-2 kg [medium level of concentrate], 2-2.5 kg [high level of concentrate {HC}]...

In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs...

A recent discussion on the Laboratory Animal Refinement and Enrichment Forum (LAREF) focused on new enrichment ideas for rabbits. Contributors shared their experiences about which toys and treats get rave reviews from rabbits.

Dairy calf welfare concerns are growing and new evidence suggests that the early life environment influences appropriate physical, behavioral, and cognitive development lasting into adulthood. This review highlights key evidence for the impacts of housing...

This study assessed the efficacy of pre-operative injected lignocaine and peri-operative topical vapocoolant spray, administered as most practical for incorporation into routine calf castration procedures. Calves were randomly allocated to: (1) sham castration (SHAM); (2)...

Calvarial bone surgery on rabbits is frequently performed. This report aims to document a simple and practical anaesthetic and perioperative management for this procedure. Fourteen male New Zealand white rabbits were included in the study...

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