Schmidt, T., Ferrara, F., Pobloth, A.-M. et al. 2021. Large farm animals used for research purposes: A survey on purchase, housing and hygiene management. Animals 11(8), 2158.
Background: Farm animals (FAs) are frequently used in biomedical research. Recommendations for the purchase, housing and health monitoring of these animals (sheep, goats, cattle and pigs) are still missing, and many institutes have developed their own strategies and protocols to face the challenges associated with the use of farm animals. This may influence the comparability of research results and increase data variances, thus increasing animal use that contradicts the obligation to apply the 3Rs principle of reduction, refinement and replacement required in Directive 2010/63 EU and the German animal protection law. Methods: A survey was conducted to define the current state of the art in research institutes working with pigs, and large and small ruminants. Results: The results of the survey clearly show that there are no uniform procedures regarding the purchase, housing and hygiene management of farm animals contrary to small laboratory animals. The facilities make purpose-bound decisions according to their own needs and individual work instructions and implement their own useful protocols to improve and maintain the health of the animals. Conclusion: This survey was the first step to filling the gaps and identifying the status quo and practical applied measures regarding the purchase and hygiene monitoring of FAs in order to improve animal welfare and scientific validity.