Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

ARU statement on research involving living animals

ARU is a showcase for commitment and expertise in sustainability. We equip our graduates with the knowledge, skills and agency they need to address the environmental and societal challenges of sustainability. We are recognised for our world-leading innovation and research impact as part of our Sustainable Futures Research and Innovation theme.

Through local and international partnerships, we aim to enable co-learning and collaboration and be recognised as a global leader in demonstrating sustainability action. We aspire to be a reference for research in agri-tech, regenerative agriculture, animal wellbeing, land and environmental fields.

What animal research do we carry out?

ARU conducts applied research that addresses national and global issues and challenges. We deliver research and teaching aimed:

  • to optimise environmental and economic sustainability
  • on the vital role equine and companion animals play in social wellbeing
  • on the importance of their care, health and welfare.

The animal research carried out at our campuses includes the areas of:

  • agricultural livestock productivity and welfare
  • veterinary sciences
  • wildlife conservation and welfare
  • human-animal interactions
  • equine and companion animals’ health.

How do we approach projects involving live animals?

All research project proposals involving living animals at ARU are assessed by a university research ethics panel.

ARU is committed to the principles of the 3Rs of reduction, refinement and replacement. In relation to all research involving animals, we rigorously apply the 3R approach to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that:

  • no alternative to the use of animals is possible
  • the sample size is strictly controlled and appropriate
  • procedures, care routines and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare.

Ethical review

This ethical review will cover animal trials and research below the threshold requiring regulation under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), such as behavioural observations, biomechanics measurements or diet evaluation.

We also conduct non-invasive clinical trials on canine and equine subjects, which are exempt from ASPA regulation. We follow codes of Animal Welfare established by DEFRA and the National Equine Welfare Council, amongst others.

During the research review process, ethics committee members will particularly ensure that:

  • the methods used should not cause pain, distress, suffering or lasting harm in line with Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986
  • the number and type of animals used is clearly stated, justified and follows reduction principles
  • an animal welfare monitoring protocol, including who to report problems to, is included to ensure animal welfare before, during and after their use in experiments.

We already publish annually, on our website, statements for Research Integrity in line with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity (Research Integrity - ARU).

ARU Commitments as signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

Signatories to the Concordat agree to be more open about their use of animals in research, and to abide by the following four commitments:

  • Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  • Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  • Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  • Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.

Signatories agree that they will work to fulfil the four Commitments, initiating projects and strategies that are relevant and appropriate for their organisations to be more open about their use of animals in research, and will be asked to report on their progress in taking these steps.