Mink farming history
The farming of mink was pioneered in the USA more than 150 years ago, during the Civil War, at Lake Casadacka, New York. The first attempts to raise mink in Canada were recorded in the 1870s, by the Patterson Brothers, in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Though originally taken from the wild, after more than 100 generations (more than 2,000 human years) farmed mink are now considered to be a domesticated animal. Through careful selective breeding, North American farmers have developed a wide range of beautiful, natural fur colors. Farmed mink are, in fact, quite different than their wild cousins. They are considerably larger and tamer. More information on mink biology, behavior, range, reproduction.
Mink farming in numbers
Farmed mink is the single most important fur type produced in North America today, in terms of the number of pelts produced and the value of the fur.
In the United States, there were 268 mink farms in 2011, the last year in which this statistic was published by the Department of Agriculture. In 2019, they produced 2.7 million pelts, with a farm-gate value of $59.2 million. Wisconsin was the leading mink-producing state, generating 1.02 million pelts. In second place was Utah, with 557,000. (Source: Fur Commission USA.)
In Canada, there are currently some 98 mink farms producing 1.76 million pelts annually worth about $70.5 million. About half of these mink are raised in Nova Scotia. Other important producers are Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec. (Source: Statistics Canada, 2018.)
A year on a mink farm
The need to provide farmed mink with a comfortable and stress-free environment, clean water, balanced diets, and overall good health remain the same year round. But some important activities change with the seasons.
There are four main periods of activity on a mink farm:
- Conditioning & Breeding (December - March)
- Whelping & Weaning (April - June)
- Growth & Furring (July - October)
- Grading & Harvesting (November - December)