Prescott, M. J., Leach, M. C., Truelove, M. A. 2022. Harmonisation of welfare indicators for macaques and marmosets used or bred for research. F1000Research 11, 272.

Background: Accurate assessment of the welfare of non-human primates (NHPs) used and bred for scientific purposes is essential for effective implementation of obligations to optimise their well-being, for validation of refinement techniques and novel welfare indicators, and for ensuring the highest quality data is obtained from these animals. Despite the importance of welfare assessment in NHP research, there is little consensus on what should be measured. Greater harmonisation of welfare indicators between facilities would enable greater collaboration and data sharing to address welfare-related questions in the management and use of NHPs. Methods: A Delphi consultation was used to survey attendees of the 2019 NC3Rs Primate Welfare Meeting (73 respondents) to build consensus on which welfare indicators for macaques and marmosets are reliable, valid, and practicable, and how these can be measured. Results: Self-harm behaviour, social enrichment, cage dimensions, body weight, a health monitoring programme, appetite, staff training, and positive reinforcement training were considered valid, reliable, and practicable indicators for macaques (≥70% consensus) within a hypothetical scenario context involving 500 animals. Indicators ranked important for assessing marmoset welfare were body weight, NHP induced and environmentally induced injuries, cage furniture, huddled posture, mortality, blood in excreta, and physical enrichment. Participants working with macaques in infectious disease and breeding identified a greater range of indicators as valid and reliable than did those working in neuroscience and toxicology, where animal-based indicators were considered the most important. The findings for macaques were compared with a previous Delphi consultation, and the expert-defined consensus from the two surveys used to develop a prototype protocol for assessing macaque welfare in research settings. Conclusions: Together the Delphi results and proto-protocol enable those working with research NHPs to more effectively assess the welfare of the animals in their care and to collaborate to advance refinement of NHP management and use.