The effects of different rack systems on the breeding performance of DBA/2 mice

P-P Tsai, D Oppermann, H D Stelzer, M Mähler, H Hackbarth
Laboratory Animals 2003, 37 (1): 44-53
Housing systems for laboratory animals have been developed over a long time. Micro-environmental systems such as positive, individually ventilated caging systems and forced-air-ventilated systems are increasingly used by many researchers to reduce cross contamination between cages. There have been many investigations of the impact of these systems on the health of animals, the light intensity, the relative humidity and temperature of cages, the concentration of ammonia and CO(2), and other factors in the cages. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of different rack systems and to understand the influence of environmental enrichment on the breeding performance of mice. Sixty DBA/2 breeding pairs were used for this experiment. Animals were kept in three rack systems: a ventilated cabinet, a normal open rack and an individually ventilated cage rack (IVC rack) with enriched or non-enriched type II elongated Makrolon cages. Reproduction performance was recorded from 10 to 40 weeks of age. In all three rack systems there was a similar breeding index (pups/dam/week) in non-enriched groups during the long-term breeding period, but the coefficients of variation in the IVC rack were higher for most parameters. This type of enrichment seems to lead to a decrease in the number of pups born, especially in the IVC group. However, there was no significant difference in breeding index (young weaned/female/week).

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