Why should environmental enrichment be used to improve welfare on mink farms?
The aim of this review paper is to present a general scientific and political argument for the greater enrichment of mink cages. I first give an overview of the animal welfare issues common to many husbandry systems, before assessing how mink farming compares with other sectors. I highlight two ways in which mink farming (like many other forms of farming) could be improved in welfare terms: in its use of restrictive feeding, and the barren, unenriched nature of many animals’ cages (common in some countries, though now rare in others). I will also review in more detail what we know – both scientifically and practically – about specific possible enrichments for farmed mink. Even simple enrichments like wire cylinders, year-round straw, and lengths of rope may have marked effect on mink behaviour and welfare, and, especially in a climate where fur-farming seems scrutinised more closely and harshly than many other animal sectors, finding functional, cost-effective ways of enriching environments and reducing abnormal repetitive behaviours are to be encouraged.