Animal husbandry and experimental design

ILAR J. 2014;55(3):392-8. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilu035.

Abstract

If the scientist needs to contact the animal facility after any study to inquire about husbandry details, this represents a lost opportunity, which can ultimately interfere with the study results and their interpretation. There is a clear tendency for authors to describe methodological procedures down to the smallest detail, but at the same time to provide minimal information on animals and their husbandry. Controlling all major variables as far as possible is the key issue when establishing an experimental design. The other common mechanism affecting study results is a change in the variation. Factors causing bias or variation changes are also detectable within husbandry. Our lives and the lives of animals are governed by cycles: the seasons, the reproductive cycle, the weekend-working days, the cage change/room sanitation cycle, and the diurnal rhythm. Some of these may be attributable to routine husbandry, and the rest are cycles, which may be affected by husbandry procedures. Other issues to be considered are consequences of in-house transport, restrictions caused by caging, randomization of cage location, the physical environment inside the cage, the acoustic environment audible to animals, olfactory environment, materials in the cage, cage complexity, feeding regimens, kinship, and humans. Laboratory animal husbandry issues are an integral but underappreciated part of investigators' experimental design, which if ignored can cause major interference with the results. All researchers should familiarize themselves with the current routine animal care of the facility serving them, including their capabilities for the monitoring of biological and physicochemical environment.

Keywords: animal husbandry; animal research; experimental design.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Experimentation*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Housing, Animal
  • Research Design*