Five piglets that were part of AgResearch’s work to test a form of upgraded facilities, over a period of three-and-a-half weeks indoors at the institute’s Grasslands campus in Palmerston North, were recently identified as being suitable for rehoming on local farmlets.
“All of the research we do with animals is of the highest ethical standards and aimed at making progress for people and animals themselves. But depending on the nature of the research, rehoming of the animals is not always practical,” says AgResearch veterinarian and animal welfare officer Susan Doohan.
“In this case, it was a very positive thing to see happen for the piglets and for all of the researchers and staff involved. Seeing the piglets play, explore and interact in their new homes has given us all a lot of enjoyment. It is certainly something we want to do more of where the opportunities for rehoming research animals are identified.”
All five piglets were confirmed as suitable for rehoming based on several factors including temperament, health, transition to meal feeding, and sociability with other piglets. They were transferred to their new homes in March 2021 after potential new owners were identified in the local area by AgResearch staff.
Checking was done in advance around the experience of the potential new owners and housing arrangements for the piglets, as well as information sharing about animal use in science.
“We also made sure to provide thew new owners with a supply of feed for the initial rehoming period, that was consistent with what the piglets were receiving during the research, to ease their transition,” Susan says.
One of the new piglet owners says: “The three boys we rehomed settled in very well and now have adopted brothers from another piggery”.
“They have all been weaned off their initial milk feeds and are growing like the proverbial mushrooms. They are very quiet, friendly fellows and easy to look after. We would have no hesitation in rehoming animals from AgResearch in future.”
*More information about AgResearch’s research with animals and ethics processes can be found here.