Facts About Fur Farming
Mink are the most commonly farm-raised furbearers in North America, while smaller quantities of foxes and chinchilla are also produced on small, family-run farms.
About half the furs produced in North America are now farm-raised.Worldwide, the figure is closer to 85% – primarily mink and fox, but also chinchilla, Finn raccoon (Asiatic raccoon), sable, Rex rabbit, Karakul sheep and other species.
Fur farming provides important employment and income for rural communities at a time when many forms of agriculture are becoming increasingly difficult for small, family-run operations. Fur farming also has the advantage of not needing a large land base, fertile soil, or clement weather.
Fur farming completes the agriculture production cycle: farmed mink and foxes are fed left-overs from our own food production, the parts of chickens, pigs and fish we don’t eat. The manure, bedding (soiled straw and wood shavings) and carcasses are composted to produce organic fertilizers to replenish the soil. Nothing is wasted.
Farmed mink, fox and chinchilla are domesticated animals. Although their ancestors were originally taken from the wild, these animals have been selectively bred and raised on farms for more than 100 generations – the equivalent of 2,000 human years. Farmed mink, for example, are more than twice as large and are much tamer than their wild cousins; they have also been bred in a wide range of natural fur colors.
“From a scientific point of view, fur animals that have resulted from breeding have acquired biological features that make them different from the wild animals from which they originate. Therefore, farmed fur animals should be regarded as new domestic breeds. [Ref: Dr Knud Heller, Institute of Population Biology, University of Copenhagen – June 1993.]