Domestication and natural behaviour of the farmed mink

September 23, 2015 - Existing scientific research suggest that access to large territories and swimming water are not essential behavioural needs for mink. Get a science-based introduction to domestication and natural behaviour among farmed mink here.

Animal advocates often claim that farmed mink are wild animals who suffer in the conventional housing systems, because they do not have access to large territories and swimming water just as their wild counterparts do. Not as vocal as the animal advocates, the scientific community opposes this ideas. Whereas access to swimming water is known to have a positive effect on animal welfare, there is no scientific evidence of swimming water being an essential behavioral need for farmed mink. As an occupational activity swimming water can be replaced by other kinds of cage enrichment. Likewise, the domestication of the farmed mink is beyond any scientific doubt.

In fact, the farmed mink exercise a very large amount of natural behaviour, not least in comparison with other farmed animal species:

  • Mink spend 70-80% of it time in their nest box. This corresponds to precisely to the behaviour of the farmed mink’s wild counterpart, which spend most of its time in its cave.
  • Mink are not inseminated, but mate naturally.
  • Mink build their own nests.
  • Mink raise their own kits, and the kits are not taken away from the mother animal.

The idea that farmed mink suffer without access to large territories and swimming water is of ideological character. It is indeed legitimate to hold the ideological view that housing systems farms should fit the animals, and not the other way around. However, animal welfare is a scientific concept which can be measured, weighed and proved, and from a pure scientific perspective there is no basis to claim that the farmed mink suffer from not living in housing systems which mirror nature 100%.

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