In this project, we test the hypothesis whether mink populations with a higher social tolerance have been developed in practice and thus are better adapted to housing in stacked cages. The hypothesis has been tested by comparing the level of bite damages and bit marks in mink kept in pairs and in mink kept in social groups. In total, the project included 1,191 brown mink housed on four farms in up to five different types of social groups. The result showed that mink in groups had significantly more bite marks than mink kept in pairs, and that mink with bite wounds had significantly more bite marks than mink that did not haev bite wounds. Thus, based upon bite mark results, we cannot confirm the hypothesis that mink populations adapted to group housing have been developed. The number of mink that had died or had been removede during the test period, or that had bite wounds at the time of observation was low on farm A, B, and C, and significantly lower than on farm D. This partly supports the hypothesis about having developed mink populations and or management adapted to group housing. The investigation has confirmed that the level of bite marks is a useful, objective measuring parameter for the social tolerance in the groups and for the level of aggression.
Proceedings of the Xth International Scientific Congress in Fur Animal Production, 2012, p. 350-359
bite wounds; bite marks; fur chewing; group housing; welfare