A systematic review on the use of chicken embryos in scientific research : Protocol

Chicken embryos are used in many research projects with a broad variety of research questions. As experiments on chicken embryos are not considered as an animal experiment under European regulations but rather as an alternative method, researchers in the European Union legally fulfil the 3R principle by Russell and Burch (Replace, Reduce, Refine), namely Replace. However, there is evidence that chicken embryos are able to experience pain from a certain developmental stage onwards. Thus, experiments on chicken embryos may lead to pain and distress if no suitable anesthesia and/or analgesia are applied. In addition, inappropriate killing methods may also lead to suffering in chicken embryos. This systematic review will give an overview about the use of chicken embryos in scientific research and shall form the basis for a discussion about current practices concerning the use of chicken embryos in scientific research. Based on the acquired data, it will be possible to see whether it seems necessary to change current practices, e.g., by using younger embryos whenever possible or by applying anesthesia and/or analgesia or more humane killing methods.

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