For mink, two is not good company
New regulations intended to improve conditions for mink in breeding farms will have the opposite effect, according to the industry. Under the new rules, farmers are only allowed to keep two mink in each cage compared with three today.
"When you keep two minks in a two-storey cage a power struggle ensues over territory. The stronger animal forces the weaker one to the top level and takes control of the food, while the weaker animal gets nothing," says Johan Dalén, president of the organisation for breeders of fur animals.
The 70 mink breeders in Sweden are becoming more profitable due to increased demand from China. But on July 1, new regulations will put higher demands on the environments these breeders create for their animals. These include larger cages with more than one storey with at least two toys for the mink to play with.
"There are a lot of changes and this means less profit. But we have chosen to consider the animal's health first and foremost, and this is our biggest concern," Dalén says.
Helena Kättström with the Swedish Board of Agriculture says they have decided that each cage should house at most two mink.
"Otherwise, there's a risk that they will bite each other, and this gives them more space to move around in," she says, adding that the board is willing to reconsider if this aspect of the new rules if it means the animals will be worse off.