The present study aimed to examine if handling and training female mink on a learning task, as preparation for a cognitive bias test, had an effect on measures of their affective state. Adult female farm mink were used based on measures of approach/avoidance behaviour, and categorised as explorative (E, n=10) and fearful (F, n=10). Affective state was assessed on the basis of approach/avoidance behaviour in two contexts /stick-tests, novel object tests) and adrenocortical activity (faecal cortisol, metabolites, FCM). The results showed that the F mink changed to being more explorative after handling and training for the cognitive bias test. Furthermore, the handling and training also had an effect on the E mink, but in the opposite direction. This study showed the preparing mink for a cognitive bias test had a marked effect on measures of their affective state, which has to be considered when interpreting the results from experiments using training to assess welfare.
Proceedings of the Xth International Scientific Congress in Fur Animal Production, 2012, p. 360-367
American mink; assessment of welfare; behaviour; cognitive enrichment; FCM