The aim was to investigate if there were differences in behaviour of female mink when kept in a climbing cage compared with a standard cage during the lactation period. The study was carried out on 90 mink of the colour type "black cross". Females were housed in either climbing cages (4.350 cm², n=46) or standard cages (2.550 cm², n=44). Behavioural observations were made four weeks before birth until kits were nine weeks old with one-zero sampling during two hours before feeding. During week 1-4 after females had given birth they were mostly recorded in the nest box and there were no differences between cage types. Week 5-8 after giving birth females in climbing cages were less in the nest box, less active out in the cage and had fewer abnormal behaviours, but were on the platforms and more inactive out in the cage. In the bottom cage females were more often walking, grooming and inactive out in the cage and tended to be more often on the platform compared to in the upper cage. It is concluded that the climbing cage worked well for females with kits and that the upper cage can offer a refuge for females when kits get older.
Proceedings of the Xth International Scientific Congress in Fur Animal Production, 2012, p. 328-335