Hull, M. A., Nunamaker, E. A., Reynolds, P. S. 2024. Effects of refined handling on reproductive indices of BALB/cJ and CD-1 IGS mice. JAALAS 63(1), 3–9.

Current mouse handling methods during cage change procedures can cause stress and potentially compromise animal welfare. Our previous study of breeding C57BL/6J mice found modest increases in pup production and a significant reduction in preweaning litter losses when mice were handled using a tunnel as compared with a tail-lift with padded forceps. The current study evaluated how these 2 handling methods affected reproduction by 2 additional mouse strains, BALB/cJ (a low- to intermediate-fecundity strain) and CD-1 IGS (a high-fecundity stock). We predicted that refined handling would have minimal effects on the high-fecundity line with a satisfactory production rate and greater effects on the low-fecundity line. Handling method (tunnel compared with tail-lift) was randomly assigned to monogamous breeding pairs of mice. Reproductive metrics (litter size at birth and weaning, numbers of litters, litter attrition, between-litter intervals, pup wean- ing weight, and sex ratio) were prospectively monitored for 80 BALB/cJ and 77 CD-1 pairs that were bred continuously for 6 mo. Both strains of mice were highly productive, exceeding previously published breeding data. However, neither strain demonstrated operational or statistically significant differences between handling methods for any reproduction metric. As we detected no negative effects in these 2 strains and the benefits are clear in other strains, refined handling should be considered for all breeding mice.

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