Mink heaven in Germany

5 10 2013

Jamie was in contact with some interesting researchers in Munich recently. German law requires mink to have swimming pools and other improvements to their housing, and so Elke Rauch, Michael Erhard, and their PhD student Angela Hagn collected detailed behavioural data on 40 young mink group-housed in large, semi-natural enclosures offering a variety of ways to swim, head-dip, dive and generally get wet all over. Over the 5 months of the study, water-use steadily increased, and the square swimming pool type option shown in the top picture seemed most favoured (in contrast, the ‘creeks’ of running water were used least). Click here for the thesis (p. 92 has an English summary). On the basis of these data they designed a radical new way of farming mink, pictured in the bottom image. My first (depressing) instinct is that this wouldn’t work commercially, but if it boosted the repro benefits that Becky and I found with really rather minor adjustments to a typical cage, maybe, maybe that could tip the balance? (Especially if they could niche-market high-welfare pelts in some clever way). It would be just great to assess perseveration in these animals, their success in mate choice tasks compared to standard farm-reared mink, and even their brains post mortem…

Mink heaven

Ideal farm