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:
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%.Domestication and natural behaviour of the farmed mink [PDF 426.7 Kb]