Funding for this research was provided by:
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH
Text and Data Mining valid from 2018-11-01
Received: 27 February 2017
Accepted: 22 October 2018
First Online: 1 November 2018
Ethics approval and consent to participate
: The animals were killed according to § 4, paragraph 3 of the Animal Protection Act, exclusively to use their organs or tissues for scientific purposes (“Tötungsanzeige beim Tierschutzbeauftragten der Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover vom 16.07.2012”). The animals had to be brought to the university, since the killing of the animals for organ removal may not take place on the farm legally. The animals came from a farm where animals excreted <i>Lawsonia intracellularis</i> with their faeces in consequence of a natural infection. Some of the animals had already been immunized against <i>Lawsonia intracellularis</i> with a commercially available vaccine at the time of removal according to the farmer’s decision. All animals were healthy at the time of removal, differing only in faecal consistency. The animals showed no diarrhea. The animals came from different boxes. The removal of organs for scientific purposes can only be justified if the collection of samples also reflects natural conditions of digestive physiology, i.e. the feed intake must be undisturbed for several days. Experience has shown that stabling at least two previously unknown animals together to form a group would have meant an additional adaptation phase lasting several days in which the animals would have to get used to each other and form a hierarchy and, therefore, an undisturbed feed intake would have been achieved. This would have been associated with considerable and prolonged stress for the animals. Also, in Germany, the legal requirements (§ 28 Paragraph 1 Sentence 2 of the Animal Welfare Animal Husbandry Ordinance “Tierschutz-Nutztierhaltungsverordnung”) make it mandatory to avoid regrouping as far as possible. Economic efficiency, labour and cost savings are no justification for this. Should a regrouping nevertheless become necessary, sufficient alternative, retreat and covering possibilities for inferior animals must be created (Annex I Chap. 2 D Nr. 2 S. 3 RL 2008/120/EG). The legal requirements show that legislation at national and EU level assumes or has recognised that the stress associated with regrouping the pig is a significant impairment of welfare, which can only be justified on reasonable grounds. Against the background of the short keeping period of only a few days until killing, the considerable strain on the animals due to regrouping would not have been justifiable from the point of view of animal welfare. The boxes were designed in such a way that there was no social isolation, as the pigs had visual, auditory and olfactory contact with each other and the possibility of physical contact existed at any time. Therefore, animal experiments were carried out according to German regulations. It was not an animal experiment requiring a notification or an approval according to the Animal Protection Act (§ 7, paragraph 2, sentence 3).
: Not applicable.
: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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