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Survey on Sheep Usage in Biomedical Research

AO Research Institute Davos, Clavadelerstrasse 8, CH-7270 Davos, Switzerland
Animal Welfare and 3R Department, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1528;
Received: 31 July 2020 / Revised: 21 August 2020 / Accepted: 27 August 2020 / Published: 30 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Refinements to Animal Models for Biomedical Research)
Sheep are used in biomedical research. A European survey was conducted with the goal of identifying the need for improvement in the use of sheep. Most participants were veterinarians working at academic institutions. Two thirds have been working with sheep for more than 5 years, and their answers emphasized the importance of healthy sheep to be used in biomedical research, as about 60% have encountered health problems not related to study protocol. Other important points were sheep availability and the trust into and experience of the sheep supplier. This survey identified important points for refinement in the use of sheep in biomedical research with health status and monitoring as possible starting points.
Currently, there is a lack of detailed information about sheep used for biomedical research. Therefore, a European survey was conducted among sheep users gathering information on the current situation, with emphasis on animal selection criteria and issues encountered in practice. The ultimate goal was to identify needs for improvement, which will subsequently lead to a refinement and reduction of the total number of animals used for experimental studies. From the 84 respondents, 77.4% were veterinarians, 71.4% were employed at academic institutions and 63.1% had worked with sheep as research animals for more than 5 years. The majority of the respondents were using females (79.8%) with no clear age preference, mainly for surgical procedures and testing medical devices. The main criteria for choosing a sheep supplier were the animals’ health status, their availability, the trust and experience in the sheep provider and the animals’ uniformity. Approximately 60% of the respondents had encountered problems in their sheep not related to the experimental protocol and almost half of them did not have a health monitoring program for their animals. In conclusion, there is definitely a need for refinement in selecting sheep used in biomedical research, with their health status as possible starting point. View Full-Text
Keywords: sheep; survey; preclinical research; health sheep; survey; preclinical research; health
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Berset, C.M.; Lanker, U.; Zeiter, S. Survey on Sheep Usage in Biomedical Research. Animals 2020, 10, 1528.

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