Investigating cage size effects on mink

21 02 2014

The recent development of the new NFACC Mink Codes highlighted the near absence of welfare research on cage size, even though every law, code and guideline wants to stipulate cage dimensions. As a result, the Codes Development Committee (led by Kirk Rankin) has been motivating the industry, south of the border as well as in Canada, to fund research into the space requirements of mink and how cages built to the new Codes compare to the larger ones used in Europe.

I’m happy to do this work (as long as it’s on a grand enough scale that non-significant results can’t be dismissed as Type II errors, and neat, sensitive behavioural experiments can be incorporated too). The first meeting on this was in July (I never found time to write this up), where we started thrashing out the brief. I turned my ideas into a proposal over the Christmas break (& got some feedback on it from the ABW last week, presenting it in our weekly seminar slot), and pictured here is Round II: a meeting of the Joint Mink Research Committee, who coordinate research for the Canada Mink Breeders and Fur Commission USA. I’ve been talking for 2 hours, which is why I look a little careworn here, but it was an excellent meeting: intense discussion to refine the questions, critique the metholodology and try and optimise what could (hopefully) be matched by NSERC $$-wise. Just to highlight a couple of the members, Gary Hazlewood, in the black shirt, chairs the committee (and, very expertly, directs the CMBA), and Jeff Mitchell, to my left in the red braces, has been very hospitably letting us work on his farm for years.

As a bonus, Maria came along for the ride and to visit the auction, so on the way there we dealt with the last issues in Chapter 2 of her thesis, Chapter 1 on the way home: a good day’s work.