Scientific Infrastructures

The work of the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) is based on the outstanding equipment of the campus with buildings, facilities and livestock, some of which are unique on an international scale.

These research infrastructures are used by scientists of the institute for various tasks of farm animal biology. These are also available to external partners mainly within the framework of joint projects with research institutions and companies from Germany and abroad.

Due to the complexity of the infrastructures, coordination with the responsible researchers is mandatory  for their use. Please do not hesitate to contact us!

At our Experimental Animal Facility Pig we have a sound attenuated room for acoustic recordings. It is equipped with a 3x3 metre arena with opaque wooden walls, which can also be used as an 'Open Field' for piglets, a camera for video observation and sound-absorbing foam padded walls for attenuation of reverberation.

The camera is connected to a digital video recorder installed in a separate room across the floor, which is integrated into the local FBN network and can also be controlled from other workstations within this network. A microphone can be placed centrally above the enclosure at varying heights.

Further structures and hardware (e.g. an additional compartment serving as start box, loudspeakers, novel objects) can be added as required to modify the room for various research purposes.

Contact person: Dr. Sandra Düpjan

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

Metabolomics comprises the characterization of metabolites in organisms, their quantification at different time points and the differentiation of metabolite concentrations under the influence of external stress factors or other modified influencing variables. Progress in the field of genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics is increasingly giving rise to questions that can only be answered by these investigations of primary and secondary metabolism.

For more Information visit our website of the service group.

Contact person: PD Dr. Beate Fuchs

The Experimental Physiology Rooms are integrated in the Animal Technical Center (Tiertechnikum) of the FBN and allow performing nutritional and metabolic studies (deep phenotyping) in pigs, cattle and small ruminants with individual measurements of feed and water intake in a climatized environment.

The facility entails four rooms:

  • Room 1 (98 m2): 6 tied-stall places for cows or heifers
  • Room 2 (83 m2): 12 pens/metabolic cages for pigs between 5 to 110 kg
  • Room 3 (83 m2): maximum 12 pigs, sheep, goats or calves which are singly housed in pens
  • Room 4 (36 m2): either 6 growing pigs or 2 adult cattle can be housed

Rooms 1, 2 and 3 can be climatized between 15 to 25 °C with 35-80% relative humidity, whereas in Room 4 the ambient temperature can be controlled between 4–28 °C (without humidity control). All rooms allow the performance of:

  • Nutritional studies, i.e. testing effects of feed quantity and quality or bioactive substances
  • Metabolic performance/challenge studies with continuous or bolus application  of tracers (stable isotope (13C, 18O, 2H, 15N) labelled nutrients/metabolites); parameters to be measured: oxidation rate, nutrient turnover rate, protein synthesis rate, first pass splanchnic uptake of nutrients, energy expenditure, gluconeogenesis
  • Clamp studies to evaluate glucose metabolism (euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic or hyperglycaemic clamps)
  • Diurnal metabolic monitoring and feed challenge studies (requires circadian blood profiling)
  • Balance studies

Plasma, saliva, milk, breath, urine and fecal samples can be measured in our in-house chromatographic and mass spectrometric laboratories featuring

  • Gas-chromatography-flame ionisation detection
  • Gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Thin layer chromatography
  • Clinical chemistry automatic analyzer
  • Combustion analysis (Dumas) for the determination of nitrogen/protein contents

Based on our extensive expertise of metabolic and nutritional testing specific protocols to test in vivo functional physiological features in farmed animals and mice are available. Experts analyze samples collected in the FBN Experimental Physiology Rooms or samples collected externally.

Note: The laboratory analyses can be done also on samples collected in experiments in the Respiration Chambers.

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Cornelia C. Metges

The FBN maintains one of the most modern facilities for farm animals in Europe. Measuring metabolism of animals can be performed in respiration chambers.

Air-conditioned respiratory chambers are available for:

  • Farm animals (cattle, pig, sheep, goat) 4 chambers each
  • Laboratory animals (mouse, rat) 6 chambers each.

The following parameters are continuously registered (e.g. for large animals):

  • Gases: CO2, O2, CH4, NH3
  • Feed and water intake
  • Standing and lying time
  • Physical activity
  • Video recording
  • Air flow rate through the chamber
  • Air pressure, temperature and relative humidity in the chamber.

The chambers are air-conditioned: Temperature 0-35 °C, relative humidity 40-90 % (in a temperature range 15-30 °C). Special constructions allow milking blood samplings or infusions without door opening.

Note: Respiration can only be used under the expert supervision of FBN staff.

Detailed description:


Ansprechpartner: PD Dr. Björn Kuhla

The behavioural arena for cattle is a building complex with a direct connection to the Experimental Animal Facility Cattle in which a variety of studies on the behaviour of cattle can be carried out. A 10x10 m enclosure has been installed in the arena, which can be used for standardised behaviour tests as an 'open field' with a maximum field size of 100 m². Theoretically, up to 10 cows can be housed in the arena at the same time. This area can also be divided into up to 4 sub-areas of 25 m² each, which are equipped with water troughs and separate gates for individual access. This allows for longer investigation periods with several animals in the arena at the same time.

For specific experimental designs, further adaptation/reconstruction of this basic structure of the housing compartment is possible.

The enclosure area can be monitored by up to eight different cameras, depending on the experimental approach. Microphone connections are located directly under the ceiling, in the middle of the arena. For bioacoustic research approaches, the entire enclosure is acoustically shielded from the environment. In addition, a noiseless ventilation system is installed.

A control room is connected to the enclosure area.  This is where the controlling computers for the various video and sound recording systems are located, which are all integrated into the FBN network and can also be controlled from other workstations in the local network.

Ansprechpartner: Dr. Jan Langbein

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