Haertel, A. J., Beisner, B. A., Buehler, M. S. et al. 2023. The impact of housing on birth outcomes in breeding macaque groups across multiple research centers. American Journal of Primatology 85(11), e23554.

Demand for nonhuman primates in research has increased over the past several years, while nonhuman primate supply remains a challenge in the United States. Global nonhuman primate supply issues make it increasingly important to maximize domestic colony production. To explore how housing conditions across primate breeding colonies impact infant survival and animal production more broadly, we collected medical records from 7959 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and 492 pigtail macaques (Macaca nemestrina) across seven breeding facilities and used generalized mixed-effect modeling to determine prenatal and infant survival odds by housing type and group size. Infant survival odds for each housing type and group size varied for prenatal, neonatal, early infant, and late infant age groups. Odds of prenatal survival were lowest in paired indoor housing and small and medium outdoor groups. No housing type performed better than large outdoor groups for neonatal survival. Odds of early infant survival was greatest in indoor and mixed indoor/outdoor housing compared to large outdoor enclosures. Large outdoor housing was associated with higher survival odds for late infant survival compared to small and medium outdoor housing. These results may influence housing choices at macaque breeding facilities hoping to maximize infant success, although there are relative care costs, the promotion of species-typical behaviors, and infrastructure factors to also consider. Our study used an interinstitutional collaboration that allowed for the analysis of more infant macaque medical records than ever before and used the broad variations across the seven national primate research centers to make the results applicable to many other facilities housing macaques.