Procedures carried out on animals in Northern Ireland, 2019

5 November 2020

Posted by: UAR news team

Category: Communications & media

 Procedures carried out on animals in Northern Ireland, 2019 

  • 28,171 procedures carried out in Northern Ireland in 2018 

  • Total procedures down 2.15% from 2018

A report from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland shows that 28,171 procedures were carried out on animals in 2019. This represents approximately 0.8% of animal research across the UK. 

Species 

Experimental Procedures 

Creation & Breeding of GA animals not used in experimental procedures 

Total Procedures (2019) 

% change from 2018 

Mice 

17,730 (79.8%) 

5,751 (96.61%) 

23,481 (83.35%) 

+8.06% 

Rats 

718 (3.23%) 

202 (3.39%) 

920 (3.27%) 

+24.83% 

Cattle 

820 (3.69%) 

0 

820 (2.91%) 

-65.9% 

Domestic fowl 

814 (3.66%) 

0 

814 (2.89%) 

+246.28% 

Fish 

983 (4.42%) 

0 

983 (3.49%) 

-43.8% 

Other animals 

1,153 (5.19%) 

0 

1,153 (4.09%) 

-40.41% 

Total 

22,218 

5,953 

28,171 

-2.15% 

In 2019 a total of 28,171 procedures were carried out on animals in Northern Ireland, a 2.15% decrease from 2018. There was an increase in the number of procedures carried out in mice, rats, and domestic fowl, and a decline in the number of procedures carried out in cattle and fish, when compared to the previous year.  

Of the 28,171 procedures carried out, 22,218 procedures (78.87%) were for experimental purposes and 5,953 procedures (21.13%) were related to the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals not used in experimental procedures. Experimental procedures decreased by 7.49% when compared to the previous year, while procedures related to the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals increased by 17.57%. 

Severity 

Experimental Procedures 

Creation & Breeding of GA animals not used in experimental procedures 

Total Procedures (2019) 

Change from 2018 

Sub threshold 

1,565 (7.04%) 

2,849 (47.86%) 

4,414 (15.67%) 

 

Non-recovery 

203 (0.91%) 

0 

203 (0.72%) 

 

Mild 

7,124 (32.06%) 

2,176 (36.55%) 

9,300 (33.01%) 

 

Moderate 

12,868 (57.92%) 

856 (14.38%) 

13,724 (48.72%) 

 

Severe 

458 (2.06%) 

72 (1.21%) 

530 (1.88%) 

 

Total 

22,218 

5,953 

28,171 


 

Severity assessments show that 33.01% of all procedures carried out in Northern Ireland were categorised as mild. 48.72% of all procedures were categorised at moderate, 15.67% as sub-threshold, 1.88% as severe, and 0.72% as non-recovery.

In Northern Ireland 51.2% (14,421) of all procedures were undertaken for basic research; 20.6% (5,797) were undertaken for translational/applied research; 5% (1,395) related to protection of the natural environment; 2% (568) were undertaken for regulatory purposes; and 0.1% (33) were undertaken for forensic enquiries.

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 2019, England, Scotland and Wales carried out 3,401,517 procedures on animals, of which 92.85% 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