Establishing an Agricultural Animal Care and Use Committee: All Hands on Deck!


Problem statement: Founded in 1980 by Dr. Pearse Lyons and headquartered in Nicholasville, KY, Alltech improves the health and performance of people, animals, and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation. In early 2010, Alltech’s risk oversight committee recognized the need for an internal review of animal care and use and, in response, an IACUC was formed. Establishment of a new IACUC posed several challenges including: training of committee members with no prior IACUC experience, encouraging compliance with newly introduced animal care requirements, and training of all animal care personnel. Additionally, the IACUC faced the immediate challenge of needing to function upon formation.

Description of research: In order to face these challenges, the IACUC took the following approaches:  1. All animal care staff were briefed prior to the establishment of the IACUC so they would be informed of what was happening, what would be expected of them, and how this would affect day to day functions. All staff were given a chance to ask questions and voice concerns to the institutional official (IO) and the elected IACUC chairperson. 2. Local institutional veterinarians, IACUC administrators, and members were consulted in the establishment of the IACUC. Local agricultural research facilities and local universities were visited by IACUC members.  3. Veterinarians and IACUC members with experience in working with agricultural animals and wildlife were consulted on the unique challenges associated with farm animals, aquaculture, and bison. 4. Appointed members of the IACUC, including the community members, were given full support by the Director of Research and the IO to attend AALAS, IACUC, and PRIM&R meetings for education and training. 5. Animal care staff, researchers, and technicians completed training on working with the IACUC and essentials of animal care and use. Individual technical procedure training was also provided by the IACUC. 6. Staff were kept motivated through constant communication, ongoing training, and monetary rewards (employee bonuses) for compliance. The IACUC chair and IO make regular visits to the research farm to talk to animal care staff and see the facilities. 7. The IACUC established a pattern of regular meetings and the IACUC chair communicates regularly with the IO and attending veterinarian. 8. The IACUC encouraged and received support from Security, Safety, and Maintenance while preparing our Program Description and these departments were integral during our AAALAC site visit. 9. Departmental “town hall meetings” were used to inform the research and animal care staff of current IACUC topics and to give personnel the opportunity to ask questions or inform the IACUC of any concerns.

Additional information: Using these approaches, Alltech Inc. was able to establish a high quality program of agricultural animal care and use and achieve full accreditation with AAALAC in June 2014.