Animal Husbandry

The benefits of employing animals in research are extensive and well documeted.  For many situations the investigations that will lead to improvements in human reatments for cancer require a whole animal system approach. The judicious use of the appropriate model is both effective and efficient.  Investigators must assume responsibility for the humane and appropriate treatment of research animals. This work requires a high standard of animal care for the benefit of the animals, and for the quality of the research outcomes.  An excellent introduction to this topic has been provided by the National Academy of Science's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Ongoing studies on the care and use of laboratory animals is documented in the ILAR Journal, provided by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. The NIH Division of Veterinary Resources offers expertise in this arena as well. For more details about the policies, regulations, and organizations supporting laboratory animal husbandry please explore the Policies areaaccessible on the left navigation menu.

Physical Environment

Controlling many aspects of animal husbandry such as housing, food, air and water quality, cage size, bedding, and exposure to pathogens ensures reproducibility of research results; many of these factors generate experimental variability that could add to apparent biological heterogeneity.  It may even affect the progress of cancer.  Although it is not always possible in animal experimentation to impose standard approaches to all of these environmental factors, it is very important to capture and convey the information about all facets of husbandry.  In that way, it may be possible to understand the causes for differing experimental results with a specific strain that is maintained under different conditions.

Husbandry goals will vary depending on the ultimate use of the research animals as well.  For research purposes, for teaching purposes, or for testing purposes there may be different requirements than for those of a production facility, for example.  Here our focus will be for research animals.

Breeding strategies depend on the desired outcome. These outcomes include fidelity of the genotype or transmission of a specific altered gene.  Explore the links on the left for more details about husbandry and breeding strategies for laboratory animal models.


It is also crucial for researchers to be aware of, and adhere to, the policies of your local institution.  Consult and coordinate with your Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, IACUC.  For more information on policies and standards, please explore the Policies section.

The information included in this section includes best practices and available resources, but does not intend to endorse any particular manufacturer’s products.