The representativeness of a semi-random sampling method for animal welfare assessments on mink farms

In this study we present a semi-random sampling method developed for the sampling of mink (Neovison vison) for on-farm welfare assessments according to the WelFur-Mink system. The only information required for implementation of this method is the number of cages in use in each shed on the farm. The representativeness of samples selected with this […]

Mustela vison

species monograph

Temperament, stereotypies and anticipatory behaviour as measures of welfare in mink

A farm mink population of 290 1-year-old wild-coloured females was scanned for stereotyped behaviour in October 2003. At the same time the temperament of the individuals was established with a stick test. Some of the females performed no stereotypies in 54 scans and this fraction of the population, 73 individuals, included significantly more fearful animals […]

Selection against stereotypic behaviour may have contradictory consequences for the welfare of farm mink (Mustela vison)

The present study aimed to examine if divergent selection for stereotypic behaviour in mink influences the welfare of the animals. Two breeding lines were used, a high stereotyping line (HSL, N = 139) and a low stereotyping line (LSL, N = 132). Their welfare was assessed on the basis of adrenocortical activity (faecal cortisol metabolites, FCM), confident versus fearful […]

Animal husbandry: Assessing the welfare state

Animals kept for human use should surely have conditions that are as conducive to their welfare as possible. A study of captive mink illustrates how animal welfare can be assessed.

Generalization of fear in farm mink, Mustela vison, genetically selected for behaviour towards humans

Mink offspring from two genetic lines, selected over 10 generations for confident (C) or fearful (F) reaction towards humans, were exposed to six different tests. The aim was to investigate whether this behavioural selection in mink has affected their reaction in other potentially fear-eliciting situations. A total of 192 naïve mink, males and females, were […]

Running in a running wheel substitutes for stereotypies in mink (Mustela vison) but does it improve their welfare?

This experiment investigated whether access to a running wheel affects the development of stereotypies during restricted feeding and whether selection for high or low levels of stereotypy affects the use of the running wheel. Sixty-two female mink kept in standard cages and selected for high or low levels of stereotypy were used. Thirty of these […]

Do the stereotypies of pigs, chickens and mink reflect adaptive species differences in the control of foraging?

The food-related stereotypies of some captive species (e.g. mink) are performed most often prior to feeding, while those of others (e.g. pigs and chickens) occur at low levels before feeding and increase after food consumption. It has been suggested that these differences reflect adaptive species differences in how feeding behaviour is controlled. However, this hypothesis […]

Exploration of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function as a tool to evaluate animal welfare

Measuring HPA axis activity is the standard approach to the study of stress and welfare in farm animals. Although the reference technique is the use of blood plasma to measure glucocorticoid hormones (cortisol or corticosterone), several alternative methods such as the measurement of corticosteroids in saliva, urine or faeces have been developed to overcome the […]

Who’s afraid of the big bad glove? Testing for fear and its correlates in mink

Fear in farm animals is a welfare and economic concern. For Scandinavian mink, the “stick test” is common for assessing fearfulness: a spatula is inserted into the cage and minks’ immediate responses are noted. However, on Ontario farms, fearfulness in the stick test was very rare and aggressive responses were prevalent, rendering this test poor […]