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Researcher from Aarhus University contributes to new textbook on management of experimental animals – focusing on the pig

Together with colleagues from University of Copenhagen and NOVO, senior researcher Mette S. Herskin from Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University (AU) has contributed to a new textbook on: “Animal-centric Care and Management: Enhancing Refinement in Biomedical Research”. In their chapter of the book, they focus on pigs and how this animal species can be managed during biomedical studies in order to improve the animal welfare.

2021.05.04 | Linda Søndergaard Sørensen

A new book focuses on how laboratory animals should be housed, treated and handled as well as on how to improve their welfare. Photo: Linda S. Sørensen.

A new book focuses on how laboratory animals should be housed, treated and handled as well as on how to improve their welfare. Photo: Linda S. Sørensen.

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on experimental animals, what they are used for, and how they are treated. Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, also works with experimental animals in intensive experiments – including typical farm animals such as pigs and cattle.

Better welfare for laboratory pigs

In the newly printed textbook, the chapter on pigs includes the nature of pigs, their natural behaviour and their cognitive as well as emotional abilities. Based on scientific studies and practical experience, the authors review about how experimental pigs can be housed, treated and handled in order to improve their welfare.

“The pig is a relatively new animal species in experiments using animals as models for humans. Until now, mainly rodents have been used in these experiments. In these years, when use of the pigs is increasing, it is important that the pig is not only seen as and treated like a “rat with a snout”. We argue that pigs should be treated as pigs based on their physiological and behavioural needs and neither as mice, humans nor dogs. At Department of Animal Science we have lots of experience and knowledge to share within this field, which is also why it has been exciting to be part of the team contributing to this book”, says Mette S. Herskin.

Better cattle welfare during intensive experiments

At the Department of Animal Science, AU, allintensive cattle studies now take place in a newly opened barn,   designed with customised pens allowing fistulated cattle to be loose housed. Changing from tied to loose housed is a big step to refine the studies. Watch researchers tell more about the new cattle facilities in this video: https://youtu.be/U7tl23IpdWU


“As an inspecting veterinarian, I am glad that we, in Department of Animal Science, do experiments with pigs and cattle under conditions which are considering the animals’ species-specific needs. Being able to do that is of great importance to animal welfare during the experiments and for the quality of the experiments and thus the results”, says Ricarda Engberg from Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University. 


More information

You can find the book via this link:


Mette S. Herskin, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University

E-mail: MetteS.Herskin@anis.au.dk


Anis, Cattle, Pigs