In 2020, the RVC used 13,781 animals in research. The vast majority of these were domestic fowl (3%), mice (39%), rats (45%) and zebrafish (12%).  

 These figures include those submitted to the Home Office as part of the annual returns.  

Numbers of animals that had procedures carried out on them were:

Species Numbers used
Cattle 10
Dogs 18
Domestic fowl 377
Equidae 7
Mice 5394
Pigs 60
Rats 6175
Sheep 54
Zebrafish 1686

Eight client-owned pet dogs were involved in studies conducted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA) at the RVC where veterinary patients are studied in depth. These were all used with informed client consent and involved procedures of recognised veterinary practice but for reasons explained below could not be undertaken under the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Ten cows were blood sampled for experimental purposes but remained as part of a dairy herd at the College’s farm.

We undertake a number of clinical studies involving veterinary patients who return to the care of their owners at the end of each procedure, which may have been something as simple as a blood test. Some of these studies need to be undertaken under ASPA - because, for example, additional blood samples or other clinical tests were undertaken for research purposes, rather than for the direct benefit of the animal involved in the study - and are included in the above table and the numbers of animals involved detailed above.

For more information on these types of studies and the animals involved see Research using Client-owned Animals.

See also Use of Animals in Research - Case Studies for a series of short articles explaining how and why we use animals in research at the RVC.

Numbers of procedures carried out at the RVC were (info added to website August 2023):

Cattle Dogs Domestic Fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
15 18 377 9 5550 60 6127 54 844

 Numbers of animals that were killed following procedures carried out were (info added to website August 2023): 

Dogs Domestic Fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
8 377 3 5394 60 6166 49 1214

The Severity classifications of the procedures that were carried out (info added to website August 2023): 

Sub-threshold Mild Moderate Non-Recovery Severe
865 2857 9117 142 73
6.6% 21.9% 69.8% 1.1% 0.6%

Purpose of Research carried out (numbers are procedures) – info added to website August 2023:

  Cattle Dogs Domestic Fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
Basic Research     377   605   25   567
Breeding & Maintenance of GA Animals         34       51
Translational & Applied Research 15 18   9 4911 60 6102 54 226
TOTALS 15 18 377 9 5550 60 6127 54 844


The following numbers of animals were either rehomed or returned to their owners:  

Species Rehomed/returned to clients/returned to dairy herd*
Cattle 10
Dogs 24
Guinea Pig 5
Hamsters 3
Rabbits 1
Rats 6

  *these rehoming figures include animals that were used for teaching purposes and dogs that were rehomed from a breeding colony.  


The proportion of our funded research that relates to animal work

As a measure of the proportion of our research that involves experimental animals, the amount external grant funding used to cover the costs of purchasing and keeping the animals has been calculated as a percentage of the total non-pay spend from external grants and is 12.6%.  


BSU charges to RES grants - total         499,822
Total non-pay cost to RES grants     3,969,000
% 12.6%


For details of animals used in other years please see:

2022 figures

2021 figures

2019 figures  

2018 figures

2017 figures

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