Profile of a Canadian mink farmer, Marianne Patten

Marianne Patten farms mink in Glenwood, Nova Scotia. She grew up on a dairy farm, “so agriculture has been intrinsic to my background, brought up with the whole agricultural work ethic, and I always knew I was going to be involved in some aspect of agriculture.”

She attended Nova Scotia Agricultural College where she took a degree in animal science. The ranch opened in 2004.

As in other places across Canada, agriculture has suffered here. “We used to have 33 dairy farms in this county and now we’re down to three. But what producers are left, we work as a community. I have a number of local beef producers in the area that are taking my manure waste and applying it on their fields to raise hay, so their animals can have a food source. So we are part of a community. If we can work together and help each other out, it becomes a really nice symbiotic relationship.”

Like any livestock farmer, Marianne places great importance on animal welfare. “I don’t have a problem with the animals being in a cage,” she says, “providing it’s a proper cage environment in terms of they have access to water, they have access to feed. They have room to do what they want to do – intrinsically what they want to do in terms of running around, stretching, moving, to provide it in cold weather with proper bedding. The animals will tell you whether they’re happy or not. If an animal is constantly portraying injuries or some sort of ill health, you know the environment isn’t good. It’s common sense in some respects.”

“I love my job,” says Marianne. “There’s something, even the most mundane or simpler tasks, or even the most frustrating days, you can go home at the end of the day and say I’ve accomplished something. There’s something satisfying, and it’s a hard feeling to explain, about getting up in the morning and providing care and food, water for another being, whether it’s animals or humans. Yes, it does come down to profitability but, as human beings, we have a responsibility if we’re going to undertake especially caring for another human being or an animal, looking after them properly, providing the proper welfare, and understanding their needs, and looking at how you can provide the best quality of food, water, environment for them.”