Welfare benefit from enrichment provision schemes in American mink (Neovison vison)

Decker, Samuel
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University of Guelph

Little is known about how animals obtain welfare benefit from environmental enrichment or how to best implement enrichment programs. This thesis aimed to fill these gaps by supplying mink with enrichment provision schemes that differed in their resource number, diversity, and novelty to evaluate the amount of resource use elicited from animals and the welfare benefit that animals subsequently received. Analysis revealed that mink altered resources use over five months, with active use decreasing and passive use increasing. Scheme effects on use were inconsistent, primarily due to unexpected item type effects, but did suggest that use can be increased above levels expressed under minimum enrichment recommendations. However, welfare indicator limitations prevented interpretation of the welfare benefit from schemes or resource use. These results support two considerations: 1) manipulable enrichments are not equivalent in the behavioural opportunity they provide and 2) passive use is a motivational outlet that warrants further study.

welfare, environmental enrichment, mink, enrichment use