Uses of farm animals in research, teaching, and testing are often separated into biomedical uses and agricultural uses because of government regulations (AWRs), institutional policies, administrative structure, funding sources, or user goals. That separation has led to a dual system with different criteria for evaluating protocols and standards of housing and care for animals of the same species on the basis of perceived biomedical or agricultural research objectives (Stricklin and Mench 1994). For some studies, this separation is clear. For example, animal models of human diseases, organ transplantation, and major surgery are considered biomedical uses; and studies on food and fiber production, such as feeding trials, are usually considered agricultural uses. However, the separation often is not clear, as in the case of some nutrition and disease studies. Administrators, regulators, and IACUCs often face a dilemma in deciding how to handle such studies (Stricklin and others 1990).
The use of farm animals in research should be subject to the same ethical considerations as the use of other animals in research, regardless of an investigator's research objectives or funding source (Stricklin and others 1990). However, differences in research goals lead to fundamental differences between biomedical and agricultural research. Agricultural research often necessitates that animals be managed according to contemporary farm-production practices for research goals to be reached (Stricklin and Mench 1994). For example, natural environmental conditions might be desirable for agricultural research, whereas control of environmental conditions to minimize variation might be desirable in biomedical research (Tillman 1994).
Housing systems for farm animals used in biomedical research might or might not differ from those in agricultural research. Animals used in either biomedical or agricultural research can be housed in cages or stalls or in paddocks or pastures (Tillman 1994). Some agricultural studies need uniform conditions to minimize environmental variability, and some biomedical studies are conducted in farm settings. Thus, the protocol, rather than the category of research, should determine the setting (farm or laboratory). Decisions on categorizing research uses of farm animals and defining standards for their care and use should be based on user goals, protocols, and concern for animal well-being and should be made by the IACUC. Regardless of the category of research, institutions are expected to provide oversight of all research animals and ensure that their pain and distress is minimized.
This Guide applies to farm animals used in biomedical research, including those maintained in typical farm settings. For such animals in a farm setting, the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching (1988), or revisions thereof, is a useful resource. Additional information regarding facilities and management of farm animals in an agricultural setting can be obtained from the Midwest Plan Service's Structures and Environ-