Behaviour 2019
The influence of feeding routines on animal welfare in laboratory mice
Janina Feige-Diller1,2, Viktoria Krakenberg1, Sylvia Kaiser1,2, Norbert Sachser1,2, S. Helene Richter1,2. 1University of Muenster, Muenster, , Germany; 2DFG-Graduiertenkolleg EvoPAD, Muenster, , Germany

In most laboratories, mice are fed ad libitum, despite well-known health impairments. In contrast, a reduction of bodyweight by feeding less food once per day (24h schedule) is known to enhance life span and reduce disease susceptibility. Yet, the repeated removal of food for up to one day is classified as “mildly severe” by the European Directive 2010/63/EU. Thus, this study aimed at evaluating different feeding routines. Three alternatives, including a 24h group, an AUTO group, i.e. automated supply of small food pellets throughout the day, and a 4h removal group, i.e. daily removal of food for 4h, were compared to ad libitum feeding. Effects on bodyweight and welfare were studied. While the 4h removal did not cause lower bodyweights, and hence is unlikely to prevent negative effects of overfeeding, the 24h and the AUTO group led to the expected effects. In the AUTO group, however, high levels of corticosterone metabolite concentrations and stereotypies were observed, implying an adverse impact on welfare. By contrast, no distinct negative effects of a 24h schedule were found.