Experimental Animal Facilities


The farm animals kept for testing correspond to the longer-term research needs of the projects for the program areas with their characteristics and are representative. Such animal models are kept for pigs, cattle, Pygmy goats, poultry and mice. 

The administration and coordination of the test capacities for cattle, swine and Goats is realised centrally by the Animal Experimentation Group, ensuring the efficient use of personnel.

Zwei Kühe im Außernbereich der Experimentalanlage Rind
Ziege guckt in die Kamera

Ongoing management responsibilities include basic care and supply for the stock, comprehensive base data recording and transportation. 

The Experimental Animal Facility Cattle has a capacity for 86 milk cows. It includes a free stall, calving and milking barn as well as a staff building.

A special test room is used for bioacoustic and behaviour psychology studies.

Roughage and water consumption are recorded automatically using weighing troughs. Activity and body weight are also recorded automatically and continuously. Informative parameters, in particular regarding milk quality, are recorded in the auto-tandem milk stand and used for process control and to optimise herd management.

Measuring systems to record methane emissions (GreenFeed), the early detection of lameness (impact sound plate) and individual movement (Track-Lab system) are integrated for special research projects.

Head: Klaus-Dieter Witt

The swine experimentation facility with space for about 750 animals in an enclosed system is divided into piglet production and test animal husbandry.

A special feature is the visitor corridor in the attic with viewing access to virtually all parts of the barn. This makes it possible to transparently present test animal husbandry to a broad audience with no risk of contagion.

Around 80 sows of the German Landrace with own reproduction form the uniform genetic test base. The population is defined by a very good health status and a high level of performance. As a breeding nucleus of the mother breeds, the pure bred sows are recorded in the herd book of the breeding association (Hybridschweinezuchtverband Nord/Ost e.V.).

The swine experimentation facility has a veterinary examination and treatment room, two chemical laboratories and a technical laboratory for bioacoustics and open field tests.

Special features include continuous standard management and comprehensive data recording for each animal.

Head: Klaus-Dieter Witt

The Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) has breeding stock of Pygmy goats used as a model for ruminants with a social structure in behavioural psychology studies.

Research areas include the learning and social behaviour of animals and animal-environment interaction.

The number of descendants per year from planned matings is guided by the experimental research needs. In addition to integrated learning stands with automatic recording of learning behaviour, video technology and computer-aided behaviour recording are used and cardiovascular parameters are recorded.

Head: Klaus-Dieter Witt

In the modern Experimental Animal Facility Poultry, animals are kept in seven floor pen sections of the same size. The maximum capacity is 1750 animals.  

Both broilers and laying hens can be studied in variable group or individual housing situations. The animals are purchased from a commercial hatchery or breeder.

An IT-assisted system controls the climate in the sections. Water is also supplied by sections using an adaptable nipple watering system.

Incubators and directly connected laboratories are included in the research facilities.

Head: Klaus-Dieter Witt

The Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology operates an aquarium for keeping of small and medium sized fishes.

The aquarium is constructed as a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS) and consists of three separately manageable systems of 1000 l tank volume each. Thus, it is possible to produce different environmental conditions for different species of fishes or different experimental designs. Additionally, the facility contains a small laboratory room for fast and direct measurements and water analytics.

The facility is used for project-related housing of different fish species for physiological, behavioural and molecular biological studies.

Head: Dr. Ronald M. Brunner

The Laboratory for Innovative Farm Animal Models (LIN) accommodates the Lab Animal Facility and modern biochemical laboratories.

The new built Lab Animal Facility ensures high standard services in the field of laboratory animal science under defined hygienic standard with a SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) barrier unit. A full technical service including blood and organ collection, experimental procedures, and complete colony maintenance is offered.

Several long-term selected mouse lines are continuously being developed, providing valuable resource populations for investigations of growth, fertility and endurance.

For more Information visit our website of the service group.

Head: Dr. Carolin L. M. Ludwig and Erika Wytrwat

The Animal Technical Centre called "Tiertechnikum" is a laboratory and animal husbandry building for intensive testing. 

In addition to the operating theatre for large and small animals, the following functional units are available in the module for experimental animal husbandry:

  • six experimentation rooms for large animals such as respiration (more Information here)
  • general physiology
  • metabolism climate room (0-35 °C)
  • metabolism room with balance cages
  • free stall section and electrophysiology.

There are two experimentation rooms for metabolism and respiration research on laboratory animals.

Nutritional physiology studies of the conversion and utilisation of nutrients as well as the control of substance and energy conversion can be carried out.

Head: Dr. Frank Becker

The Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology operates an experimental abattoir.

The experimental abattoir is approved by the E.U., the German quality management system QS and, is member of the German animal welfare organization “Initiative Tierwohl”. All common livestock species can be slaughtered according to the current animal welfare regulations. The slaughter process can be highly standardized and guarantees for reproducible conditions for data collection. Carcasses can be dissected by professional staff according to the requirements of respective experiments.

This allows detailed investigations of complex physiological processes in carcasses of farm animals as well as rapid preparation of metabolically active tissues for further analysis. Consequently, the experimental abattoir provides reproducible phenotypic data and customized tissue samples and is a central element of interdisciplinary research on farm animals at the FBN.

For more Information visit our website of the Meat research.

Leitung: Dr. Ralf Pfuhl

Klaus-Dieter Witt Head of Experimental Animal Facilities