Increase in animal research in Northern Ireland

12 October 2018

Posted by: Dr Anabella Williams, UAR news team

Category: Research & medical benefits

Increase in animal research in Northern Ireland 

·         24,756 procedures conducted in Northern Ireland in 2017

·         Procedures up 10.3% from 2016

·         Procedures in mice down by 44.9% from 2016

 

A report from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland shows that 24,756 procedures were conducted on animals in 2017. This represents approximately 0.6% of animal research across the UK.

 

Species

Procedures

% of Total

Mice

14,774

59.7%

Cattle

6,241

25.2%

Rats

1,105

4.5%

Domestic Fowl

916

3.7%

Other Animals

1,720

7%

Total

24,756

 

 

In 2017 Northern Ireland saw a 10% increase in procedures when compared to 2016. There was a decrease in the number of procedures in mice and an increase in the number of procedures in cattle, rats, and domestic fowl when compared the previous year. Procedures in mice decreased by 44.9%, whilst procedures in cattle, rats, and domestic fowl increased by 82.8%, 48%, and, 71.7% respectively.

 

Species

Procedures in 2016

Procedures in 2017

Percentage Difference

Mice

18,287

14,774

Down 44.9%

Cattle

1,072

6,241

Up 82.8%

Rats

575

1,105

Up 48%

Domestic Fowl

259

916

Up 71.7%

Other Animals

2,021

1,720

Down 14.9%

Total

22,214

24,756

Up 10.3%

 

Of the 24,756 procedures completed in 2017, 4,698 (19%) related to the creation/breeding of genetically altered animals with the remaining 20,058 (81%) relating to experimental procedures.

 

Species

Experimental procedures

Procedures relating to the creation/breeding of genetically altered animals

Mice

10,076 procedures (50.2%)

4,698 (100%)

Cattle

6,241 procedures (31.1%)

 

Rats

1,105 procedures (5.5%)

 

Domestic Fowl

916 procedures (4.6%)

 

Other Animals

1,720 procedures (8.6%)

 

Total

20,058 procedures

4,698 procedures

 

Severity assessments undertaken for the 20,058 experimental procedures indicated that 1.8% were assessed as sub-threshold; 57.1% as mild; 37.6% as moderate; 2% as severe and 1.4% as non-recovery.

In Northern Ireland, 59.5% (14,719) of procedures were undertaken for the purpose of basic research. 5,152 of these procedures were undertaken in cattle for the purpose of understanding the animals’ immune systems and all these procedures in cattle were classified as ‘mild’.

Northern Ireland regulates its animal research and compiles its statistics separately from the rest of the UK (regulated by the Home Office). Every year, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland produces a detailed report explaining what animals were used in different types of research over the year. The research is carefully regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986.

In 2017, England, Scotland and Wales reported 3,789,373 procedures on animals, of which 93.4% were on mice, fish and rats. No primates have been used in experiments in Northern Ireland in over a decade. 

More details on Northern Irish statistics can be found here: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/statistics-scientific-procedures-living-animals-northern-ireland