How many animals were used by the RVC in 2021?

In 2021, the RVC used 6957 animals in research*. The vast majority of these were mice (68%), and zebrafish (23%).

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 11
Dogs 42
Domestic fowl 571
Equidae 4
Ferrets n/a
Hamsters n/a
Mice 4759*
Pigs 90
Rats 180
Sheep 44
Zebrafish 1256*

*June 2023: Differences were found between numbers on this website and internal records.  Internal records showed a lower number of zebrafish and mice than previously recorded on the website.  Investigation has confirmed that the internal records were correct.  Therefore the numbers of zebrafish, mice and total animals were corrected on 16 June 2023.   The numbers were corrected as following: Total animals used changed from 9,972 to 6,957; mice changed from  6747 to 4759; zebrafish changed from 2283 to 1256.

Twenty five client-owned pet dogs were involved in studies conducted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (A(SP)A) 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 July 2023): 

Cattle Dogs Domestic Fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
16 48 1468 4 4766 90 180 44 1252

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

Dogs Domestic Fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
5 571 4 4759 90 180 44 1231

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

Sub-threshold Mild Moderate Non-Recovery Severe
1333 5250 1134 115 36
16.9% 66.7% 14.4% 1.5% 0.5%

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

  Cattle Dogs Domestic fowl Equine Mice Pigs Rats Sheep Zebrafish
Basic Research     1151 4 3880       838
Breeding & Maintenance of GA Animals         272       414
Translational & Applied Research 16 48 317   614 90 180 44  
TOTALS 16 48 1468 4 4766 90 180 44 1252


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 53***
Ferrets 2
Hamsters 3
Rats 2

** these rehoming figures include animals that were used for teaching purposes and dogs that were rehomed from a breeding colony and so were not involved in experimental research. 

*** On 9th September 2022, this value was changed from 51 to 53, in order to include two dogs rehomed late in 2021 who were inadvertently omitted from the count.

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 21.5%.  


BSU charges to RES grants - total         482,674
Total non-pay cost to RES grants     2,241,000****
% 21.5%


**** Our accounting processes changed in 2021.  These figures now exclude payments passed to partners.  This explains the apparent increase in % from 2019/20.  

For details of animals used in other years please see:

2022 figures

2020 figures

2019 figures  

2018 figures

2017 figures

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