Publiceringsdatum3 October 2023

To train large research animals

During a meeting with Swedish animal welfare bodies, the 3Rs Center learned that they wish to have more hands-on help with training of large research animals.

Improvements in handling and training of animals is important to improve the welfare of research animals. It may also reduce the number of animals needed, since trained animals are likely to stay in the experiments, which is not always the case with stressed animals. For someone who has never trained an animal it can however be difficult to get started.

Larger research animals such as horses, cows and pigs can actually be dangerous to handle depending on the situation, especially if you are not used to it. Since research may contain doing injections, taking blood samples and biopsies, the situation can get even more dangerous as the animal is subjected to some level of pain or discomfort.

Two-day course at SLU

During a meeting with Swedish animal welfare bodies that work with larger animals in research last year, it was brought to our attention that they wish to have more hands-on help with training of these animals. As training leads to better welfare for the animals as well as higher safety for the handler, we at the 3Rs center took this request seriously.

Later this year we will therefore offer a two-day course on sight at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, where up to twenty people that work with large research animals are welcome to improve their skills in animal training.

To ensure high quality teaching, and to help participants to embark on the training path they need, we have enlisted the help of two experienced trainers. Not only are they used to training a number of different animal species, they are also used to conditions where procedures have get done correctly on the first try, and where safety is of huge importance. These people are Angelica Åsberg and Anette Pedersen who work with zoo animals and also educate others on how to train animals. Angelica and Anette will adapt the training course to the participants’ needs and help them to bring home new and easy-adopted ways to train the animals to voluntarily take part in the studies.

Animal welfare as well as safety

Katarina Cvek at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and member of the Swedish National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes, is glad that we now have a course set up:

— Training research animals for various procedures is important for animal welfare. For large animals, it is also a matter of safety for the animal caretakers.

We hope the course will be of great help to everyone that participates and that they can share new ways to refine the handling of large animals in research, at their workplaces.

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