Profile of a Canadian mink farmer and a visiting veterinarian student

Ted Parkinson is a mink farmer in Ontario and member of the Canada Mink Breeders Association. The farm is a family operation, with Ted’s father starting when he was 15 years old. Ted has now been raising mink for over 30 years, and has been joined by his daughter and son in law. “I still enjoy it to this day, after 30 years,” says Ted.

One of the questions Ted commonly hears is how mink are euthanized, and so he explains. “We use carbon monoxide gas. We bring a container down the row with the gas in the container. We put the mink in. It’s an odorless gas so they won’t even realize what’s happening. It’s stress-free, it’s quick, and it’s a system that works well for us. It’s very easy on the mink and on the operators.”

Visiting Ted’s farm is a student veterinarian from the University of Guelph studying animal behavior and welfare, with a focus on stereotypical behavior. One of the things she is researching is the effect of adding a simple wire “getaway box” to pens used by nursing mothers. The boxes allow the nursing mothers to get away from their demanding kits for a while to rest. This is expected to reduce the incidence of mastitis in mothers, and hasten the transition of the kits to solid food, resulting in healthier and larger mothers and kits.

As for the standard of care received by the mink, our student says, “Compared to other farmed animals, mink have it pretty much the best.”