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Mink Breeding


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Despite the fact that the most important activities which aim on providing the mink with a relaxed and stress-free environment, pure water, well balanced diets, and overall good health, do not change, many other things alter depending on the season, and on the mink's life cycle.


There are four main seasons on a mink farm. Here is the first one.


Breeding season (December - March)


At this time of the year mink farmers aim on bringing mink (both male and female) into excellent breeding condition. The first steps focus on adjusting the nutrition and feeding program so that they get rid of extra weight and stimulate vigorous exercise. This is extremely important for effective reproduction and a successful whelp.


There are farmers that carry out blood tests for Aleutian disease and perform vaccinations during this time. It is the period that mink are more susceptible to diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Poor health status at this time will most definitely lead to a low quality skin harvest. The guard hair will not reach optimum length and the underfur density will not meet the required standards.


In order to prepare for breeding, mink are placed in the barns depending on the breeding methods that the farm has adopted. Most of the time this involves tiny groups of male mink surrounded by larger groups of female mink. Most farmers choose to breed a ratio of 6-7 females for every male. This strategy facilitates the transfer of females into the males' cages more and reduces the required labour. Females arealways positioned into the males' cages for reproduction - never the opposite, since it is highly important for the males to be on their very own area.


The act of breeding stimulates the females to ovulate. The same thing happens with domestic cats but different from other domestic animals. One week after the first pairing, the ovaries have produced new ova and the females are ready for a new breeding cycle. Therefore, most farmers practise a breeding program of Day 1 and Day 7.A significant number of ranchers also mate the day after Day 7 (Day 8), since this method will often lead to the fertilization of extra ova.


Modern ranchers always keep breeding records. Mating time, genetics of parents and grandparents, success rates and fur quality are thoroughly recorded. This data are analysed and used as points of reference for improvement and corrections.

source : https://skandinavikfur.com/blog/mink-fur-skins-male-and-female/

Edited by Guest
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Not being familiar with the life cycle of farmed mink, and being a zoologist who works in animal husbandry, a few questions come to mind.


1) You mention that breeding season for mink is between December and March. In some animals, reproductive readiness can be induced by manipulating ambient temperature or photoperiod, or by otherwise changing some physical aspect of the rearing environment; often, the goal of such environmental manipulation is to permit reproduction on a much shorter timescale. Do you know if any mink farmers have attempted to induce breeding by such means?


2) How many reproductive cycles can be expected out of a typical breeding male or female? Do farmers maintain "broodstock," i.e. a selection of males and females that are intended to breed for a period of time rather than be harvested straightaway upon maturity? If so, what criteria are used to select these brood animals, and for how long are "broodstock" maintained?


3) In large-scale livestock operations, vaccination is often problematic as a result of the sheer numbers of animals that require vaccination. What is the population of a typical mink farm?


I'm sure I'll think of more questions. Don't mind me; just my curiosity coming into play.

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Hi and thank you for asking .

Mink is farmed in several countries such as Northern America , Northern and Cebtral Europe , China , Japan and the past 20 years in Greece and more specifically in Northwest Greece in the area of Kastoria and Siatista . The latter two areas have a long tradition in fur making and my aswers to the questions will be focused on the breeding standards of the farms operating there.Furthermore , although my fur making business is in close collaboration with the mink farmers , i am not a vet or farm specialist and all the info provided below comes from a discussion with a mink farmer.


1)Up to now there are no environmental manipulation methods applied with an aim of reducing the reproduction timescale. Livestock is let to reproduce in their natural rate. The only intervention they had to do was in the summer of 2007 which was a hot one , with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees celsius and the harvest was at risk . Cooling the breeding facilities with ventilation was implemented.


2) The usual number of breeding cycles is 5-6 . Broodstock is selected with criteria that serve commercial properties which are big size , hair density , guardhair to underfur ratio , hair sheen and suppleness , color .


3) Vaccination is indeed a hazardous task since all animals have to be handled by hand and their aggressive nature adds to that . The typical farm in Greece numbers a population of 2500.

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