Datesand News

Refining handling with NC3RS

handling-tubesIn late November, we were delighted, to be invited as the only trade representative to showcase our range of clear handling tubes during the NC3RS Refined Handling Workshop where more than 80 delegates from across the UK and Europe attended a series of seminars on the use of refined, less stress-inducing methods of handling our precious charges.  Presentations by specialists from Liverpool University, Newcastle and Nottingham looked at the evidently negative effects of traditional methods such as tail handling and, in contrast, the proven positive improvements gained from the use of clear handling tubes and cupped hand methods. 

The talks were evidence based and highly practical and certainly led to useful discussion and debate amongst the delegates. Important practicalities were raised such as the fact that, in some circumstances, tubes could potentially be pushed up against the water inlet leading to potential leaks. In such cases the Datesand tunnel with clip attached solves the problem as it can be fixed to the roof of the cage and well away from the inlet. The group also heard that studies from Liverpool and Newcastle have proven that clear tunnel handling reduces urination and defecation with the obvious benefit of keeping the bedding cleaner and drier for longer.

In the course of the meeting we were informed that from January 2019 the Home Office will be visiting all UK facilities. If units have not already implemented a refined handling method, they will need scientific justification for not doing so. If that justification can’t be provided, the Home Office will require units to trial the Handling Tube or cupping method. 

The team from NC3Rs were delighted both with the attendance and with the presentations given and discussions which followed. Mark thanked Datesand for supporting the initiative and invited us to attend future events of this kind. All delegates left that day with lots of facts, lots of ideas and samples of both the Tube 100 and Tube 130 products from Datesand. 

You can find out more about handling methods both traditional and refined at the excellent NC3Rs website. The website is an absolute mine of information about all aspects of the 3Rs initiative. how-to-pick-up-a-mouse

JWIA 2019

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Keeley goes to Manchester

My visit to see the animal units at Manchester university


manchester-tripThis was the first time since joining Datesand that I’d been able to look around a facility to see for myself how the animals are cared for and just how our bedding enrichment products are used to improve their health and well-being. Luckily, we had the Director Graham as our very knowledgeable guide. Graham told us they currently have around 85 projects running, looking into things from cancer research to global warming. We were able to see a lot of different animals and just how the bedding and enrichment we provide is used.

We were told about the care of the animals and how the team use the 3Rs to keep the animal testing to a minimum. As an example, for certain tests, microbes in a petri dish can be used as an alternative to live animals. Graham also explained that if they can re-home the animals after testing, they attempt to do so, or make sure that if animals have to be euthanised, the organs are used to help in other studies. He also mentioned that the unit’s older ewes nearing the end of their life are saved and that donated pacemakers are used to test their hearts.

We were taken to look at animals I’d expected to see, such as rats and mice and the growing population of zebrafish. We also saw other animals like the African striped mice currently used for optical tests and terrapins, born with a lack of oxygen, helping researchers see how people’s hearts fare at lower oxygen levels such as at high attitude. We heard of studies using microcultures to help people in the developing world with water supplies and how dogfish are helping in research into global warming and its effects on sea life. Graham also explained how researchers are testing to see how the body’s internal clock changes the way the body heals. This has implications for things like the lighting environment used when patients are being prepared for surgery.

It was very clear that the team go to a great deal of trouble to develop and maintain inventive and caring methods to help both animals and technicians. The units purify their own water into pouches to avoid repetitive strain injuries sometimes associated with cleaning bottles and use up to 40% less water into the bargain. The team had also noticed that when cleaning out the pigs, the animals rolled around in the run-off water. It seemed only right to provide them with a pool to swim and play around in. There’s even a project to exercise different birds to see how it affects the heart.

As someone who mainly processes the orders and looks first and foremost at accuracy, the right products, quantities and prices, it was really useful and interesting to see the animals themselves and to understand their needs and the environment they inhabit.  It also gave me a real understanding of the number of enrichment items used and amounts of bedding ordered in real terms as I saw for myself what’s needed to fill so many cages and what lasts them a week.

All aboard – for the West Middlesex IAT Thames cruise

boat-trip-1The enterprising IAT West Middlesex Branch organised a Thames boat trip event one Friday evening in late June – a fitting reward after everyone’s hard working week. Datesand sponsored this event and as the company’s national sales executive, I thought it only correct that I attend (to make sure everything went to plan of course!).

The boat departed on the dot at 6pm. On going aboard we received a free glass of champagne which was swiftly followed by the arrival of a number of jugs of Pimms. This beverage seemed entirely fitting for the leisurely cruise in the beautiful Summer weather.boat-trip-2 Attendees were from facilities across London – including Imperial, QMUL, Kings College London, CRUK and UCL. There were approximately 30 delegates including representatives of a number of suppliers. The industry job titles ranged from Facility Directors to Animal Techs which once again showed the real value of these social events. 

The evening was fantastic, the weather perfect and the alcohol extremely appropriate. This boat takes travellers to all the key tourist attractions such as Big Ben, the London Eye, the Shard and London Bridge. We returned on time to dock at 8pm after a highly successful event which everyone really enjoyed. Once back on terra firma we went to a pub in Kings Cross to compare notes on the evening – and for one last drink before calling it a night. 

Not golf as we know it – but loads of fun nevertheless


The highly sociable IAT London Branch staged a crazy golf event this year in late June. The enthusiastic delegates first met (surprise surprise!) at a handy pub just around the corner from the venue. Jujus Bar and Stage boasted a great beer garden just about perfect for this glorious weather. The Crazy golf started at 6:00pm at Junkyard golf club. Pre-match nerves were mixed with raw enthusiasm and the healthy spirit of competition. The event was kindly sponsored by Edstrom and Sychem. 

crazy-golf-2The intrepid crazy golfers included Robin and Connor P from UCL Prion, Alisa from UCL ICH, Gabi, Bridgette, Louise and Mira from UCL Central, Marc from UCL Ophthalmology, Ben from Kings College, Katie B, Zoe W, Michaela L, Kul K, James from Edstrom, Micrazy-golf-3ke from Sychem, Patrick from Allentown, Simon from Tecniplast and last but not least, myself from Datesand.

All attendees took it in turns to make their way round the extremely wacky course. We played through seven different obstacles (see photos) before finally returning to reception. Those not too exhausted by the sporting endeavour stayed on and returned to Jujus bar for some well-earned refreshment. A great evening was enjoyed by all.