Nieuws - 7 februari 2013

Record number of animals in university experiments

More behavioural research on chickens.
DLO's use of animals to be made public too.

In 2011 the university used: 10,612 chickens, 1254 mice, 7558 fish, 367 pigs, 215 rats, 185 cows, 14 horses, 13 cat and 43 birds. Total: 19810 animals used in education and - above all - research. A record number, the university's average being about 15,000 animals per year.
The reason for this peak in 2011 was an increase in behavioural research on chickens. According to license-holder Rob BurĂ©, this came about partly as a result of the ban on battery chickens. In 2011, Wageningen studied the behaviour of nearly 15,000 chickens, including the positive effect of dust baths or pecking behaviour directed at members of the same species. According to BurĂ©, this sort of research causes the animals mild distress. Blood is taken, for example, to measure levels of stress hormones, but no major operations are performed.  
Wageningen does a lot of animal research compared with other Dutch universities. Only three universities used more animals in experiments: Utrecht, Groningen and Nijmegen. DLO institutes such as CVI, Imares and Rikilt are not included in these statistics. But that is due to change. In 2008, a joint code of transparency about animal experiments was signed by the universities, academic hospitals and the Dutch academy of sciences. This will lead to greater transparency across Wageningen UR as well. Next Monday the executive board will be discussing a report on animal experiments and dilemmas in animal research. This includes data about the use of animals by DLO institutes. It is the first time the organization has made these figures public.