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Breeding and colony management

Best practice guidance for optimising the use of animals and avoiding wastage, using principles that apply to multiple species.
A litter of black mice with an adult mouse, nesting in the corner of their home cage

Definitions of key terms in breeding and colony management.

Practical advice on calculating how many matings to set up, including available breeding calculator tools.

Common breeding and colony management queries.

Get in touch for answers to specific questions about colony management or breeding difficult strains.

About this content

This best practice guidance covers critical aspects of breeding, colony management and archiving of genetically altered (GA) mouse strains, including:

  • The importance of confirming genotype.
  • Establishing reproductive characteristics and keeping accurate records.
  • Why, when and how to archive a strain.
  • Avoiding genetic drift.
  • Importance of genetic background.
  • Choosing a breeding strategy based on genotype (e.g. backcross vs intercross) and timeframe required (e.g. intermittent breeding when no immediate experiments planned, trio matings to expand experimental cohorts).
  • How to plan a colony.

This resource also includes a number of different GA mouse breeding scenarios, with guidance on different breeding and experimental design strategies to optimise the use of available animals and minimise surplus animals.

Although this guidance is based on mouse colonies and experiments, the principles apply to other species.

We gratefully acknowledge the Breeding and Colony Management working group for their expert knowledge and contributions to this resource.