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Animal Transfers: Everything You Need to Know

eRAM Facilities IACUC

The transfer of animals is the process of moving animals from one IACUC approved protocol to another IACUC approved protocol. To initiate the transfer process, an Animal Use Form (i.e., transfer form) must be completed. In some instances, the transfer process also includes physically transporting animals between housing locations.

Green hexagon document transfer icon

While animal transfers may contribute to a reduction in the number of animals generated for research, which supports humane animal research by embracing the “Three Rs,” the benefits of reducing animal numbers must be reconciled with:

  1. The IACUC’s need to monitor the activities researchers perform on individual animals from acquisition until the animals’ final disposition.
  2. The ability to provide an accurate number of animals used in research.
  3. The need to meet the terms and conditions of funding and regulatory expectations.

To ensure these requirements are met, all animal activities, necessary personnel, and locations MUST be approved on a single IACUC protocol unless one of the acceptable animal transfer situations described below is applicable.

  1. An animal may NOT undergo an invasive procedure or recovery surgery on two separate IACUC approved protocols without explicit IACUC approval.
  2. An animal may NOT be transferred to a different IACUC approved protocol for the sole purpose of undergoing a specialized procedure and then transferred back to the original IACUC approved protocol. 
  3. Animals that are genetically modified and/or that have undergone an activity involving the use of a hazardous agent on one IACUC protocol must continue to meet all associated compliance expectations on any subsequent IACUC protocol. This includes expectations set forth by, for example, Environment, Health & Safety and the Institutional Biosafety Committee.

Acceptable Situations for the Transfer of Animals

  1. One way transfer of animals: Animals no longer being utilized on an IACUC approved protocol may be transferred to another protocol where they will eventually meet their final disposition (e.g., euthanasia, adoption). 
  2. Back and forth transfer of animals: Animals transferring to an IACUC approved animal protocol and then back to the original protocol may only occur in specific situations of collaboration. Collaboration is defined as two independent research studies that are dependent on animal work performed on another protocol. Animals on a protocol must NOT be transferred to another protocol only to undergo a specialized procedure necessary for the completion of the work being performed on the original protocol. 
  3. Transfer of animals to and from the U-M Holding Protocol may occur under the guidance of the Animal Care & Use Office.
  4. Animal transfers from U-M Research Cores and Fee-for-Service (FFS) Units producing animals for a PI will continue to occur. The transfer of animals between a PI’s protocol and all other U-M Research Core and FFS Unit protocols is no longer necessary.

U-M Research Cores and Fee-for-Service (FFS) Units

The transfer of animals between an IACUC approved protocol and a U-M Research Core or FFS Unit – apart from Cores and/or FFS Units producing animals (e.g., the Transgenic Animal Model Core and the ULAM Breeding Colony) – will no longer occur.

Animals will now undergo procedures by U-M Research Cores and FFS Units while remaining under the PI’s IACUC approved protocol. The researcher’s protocol MUST include:

  • Which U-M Research Core(s) and/or FFS Unit(s) they will utilize
  • The name of the procedure to be performed by the U-M Research Core(s) and/or FFS Unit(s)

The PI’s protocol should NOT include:

  • A detailed description of the procedure to be performed by the U-M Research Core and/or FFS Unit(s)
  • Personnel from the U-M Research Core and/or FFS Unit, unless protocol editing and/or review privileges are required

Animal Transfer FAQs

  1. Ensure donating and receiving protocols are appropriately completed
    • Indicate transgenic animals, if necessary.
    • Ensure that the donation protocol indicates “transfer of animals to U-M approved IACUC protocol” as an option for the animals’ disposition.
  2. Complete a Transfer Form in the eRAM protocol workspace
    • The PI, or PI’s delegate, for the donating protocol will select “Create Animal Use Form” and then complete the requested information.
    • The PI, or PI’s delegate, for the receiving protocol will complete the remaining portion of the form and submit it for final review.
      • If the animals will be transported by ULAM, please indicate this in the Notes section of the form and clearly label the cages being physically moved with ULAM Transfer Cards.
    • Once all information has been validated and is accurate, personnel from the Animal Care & Use Office will approve the Animal Transfer Form.
    • Animals can be physically moved AFTER the Animal Transfer Form has been approved.
  • Contact the U-M Research Core or FFS Unit directly to schedule services.
  • If animals need to move to another building, contact your facility’s ULAM Husbandry Supervisor requires Level-1 U-M login credentials to set up a truck slip at least 48 hours in advance of the location change.
  • Label all animal cages that need to be moved to the U-M Research Core of FFS Unit with the ULAM Transfer Cards.

No, all procedures that will be performed on an animal must be listed on a single IACUC approved protocol.

Additionally, this protocol must also include:

  1. A list of all personnel who will perform procedures, and
  2. Any location(s) in which the procedures will occur

No, personnel** are added to a protocol to ensure they have received the necessary training to perform any procedures the protocol/study requires.

ULAM personnel are trained on these procedures as part of their employment, and individuals who perform procedures described on a Core or FFS protocol receive training via their association with the respective Core or FFS Unit.

**U-M Research Core or FFS Unit personnel may request to be added as personnel on your protocol if protocol editing and/or viewing rights are desired.


  • Questions about the administrative processes required for animal transfers should be directed to the Animal Care & Use Office at
  • Questions about the physical logistics of transferring or moving animals between facilities should be directed to your facility’s ULAM Husbandry Supervisor requires Level-1 U-M login credentials

yellow lock icon denoting level-1 U-M login required for access Links marked with a lock icon can only be accessed using valid U-M login credentials.

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