From the Executive Editor

Animals used for research purposes

Authors submitting manuscripts to the Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP) must prove to the editorial board that the research was reviewed and approved by the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC). This is clearly described in the instructions to authors.1 Typically, a statement such as “the study was approved and conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Iowa State University Institutional Committee on Animal Care and Use”2 is placed in the materials and methods section after describing the study animals. Note the verbs “approved” and “conducted.” The research must be approved by the IACUC prior to beginning the research. Then, the research must be conducted as described in the application submitted to the IACUC.

Researchers must complete approval forms outlining, for example, age and type of animal, housing, enrichment provided for the animals, protocol, use of analgesics or anesthetics, justification for use of live animals and for the number of animals used, clinical monitoring, conditions under which an animal would be removed from the research, and conditions under which the research would be discontinued. Personnel responsible for the care and use of animals in research must complete standard courses in the care and use of animals for research. Veterinarians may be knowledgeable about pigs on the farm, but we must complete these courses, which are designed specifically for those of us using animals in research and include a detailed understanding of the laws pertaining to the use of animals in research.

All countries require that research involving the use of animals is approved prior to conducting the research. The use of animals in research is governed by the Animal Welfare Act, a federal law in the United States.3 In Ontario, Canada, both the provincial Animals for Research Act4 and the federal guidelines mandated through the Canadian Council on Animal Care5 stipulate the regulations to be followed by the university animal care committee.4 The responsibilities of the researcher are to reduce the numbers of animals in research in the most realistic manner, investigate and implement alternatives to animal use, gain approval from the IACUC prior to obtaining the animals and beginning the research, comply with the protocol described and all standard operating procedures, ensure that all personnel working with animals have appropriate training in the animal-handling techniques and skills required for the procedures, and ensure that appropriate standards of care and well-being are provided for all animals, that records of all animals involved in the project are maintained and provided on request to inspectors, that amendments to the procedures are approved prior to implementing changes, and that significant unanticipated animal-care problems or complications are reported to the IACUC.6 Each institution has clear guidelines of the responsibilities of the researcher. I have provided examples only from the University of Guelph6 and the University of Minnesota.7

Review panels for the IACUCs include members of the general public, researchers, and experts from the institution who fully understand the laws. Research projects not reviewed by an external panel from a funding agency must first be reviewed by a panel of university researchers before review by the IACUC. The IACUC has the right to reject a research project or advise the researcher to change the protocol prior to acceptance.

What if you are conducting research on a commercial farm? If you are in a research institution, you are expected to have a completed animal care and use approval prior to beginning the research. The only exception to the requirement for animal care and use approval for publishing in JSHAP is for case reports, with instructions to authors stating “For case reports and studies performed under field conditions, it must be clear that housing was adequate and that the animals were humanely cared for.”1 In a case study or report whereby the data was collected in the normal day-to-day conduct of veterinary practice, there was likely no animal care and use submission. However, the author is expected to report that the animals on the farm were cared for according to acceptable standards.8,9 Submissions without this approval will be reviewed by two members of the AASV animal welfare committee. Research work considered unacceptable will not be sent for further review.

The applied research work published in our journal by its very nature typically involves the use of live pigs. Submissions without animal care and use approval will not be sent for peer review. I hope this editorial has fully described our policy requiring institutional animal care and use approval.

--Cate Dewey, DVM, MSc, PhD


1. Journal of Swine Health and Production. Guidelines for authors submitting manuscripts. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

2. Thacker EL, Thacker BJ, Wolff T. Efficacy of a chlortetracycline feed additive in reducing pneumonia and clinical signs induced by experimental Mycoplasma hyopneumonia challenge. J Swine Health Prod. 2006;14:140–144.

3. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

4. Animals for Research Act. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

5. Canadian Council on Animal Care. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

6. University of Guelph. Summary of Responsibilities of Principal Investigators & Instructors. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

7. University of Minnesota. IACUC. Basic criteria of an IACUC review. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

8. USDA National Agricultural Library. Animal Welfare Information Center. Farm Animals. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.

9. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Publication 1898/E. Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals. Pigs. Available at: Accessed 23 September 2008.