Mink Farming: The Reality of the Mink Fur Trade

What is mink farming and is it still legal? In this blog, we take a look at the cruel mink fur trade.

Mink farming
European mink cage grown on a farm for fur in Lithuania. Image Credit: AdobeStock

The UK introduced a long overdue ban on farming animals for their fur in 2000 which saw all UK farms either shut down or move overseas. There remains a loophole which means rabbits can still be farmed so long as the primary purpose is for meat. However, their fur is still sold and can be found on bobbles, cuffs and in cat toys, and is often not labelled as fur at all.

Mink Farming Around the World

The European Union leads the dishonourable league table and farms 34.7 million mink. China farms 20.7 million, the US 3.1 million and Canada 1.76 million.

Like other species who are farmed for their fur and skin, mink are incredible animals. They can run, swim and climb easily, and are fierce predators. Native to North America, they are now living wild in many parts of the world ever since their ancestors escaped from fur farms. After the misery and suffering endured on these farms, you might expect people to celebrate their freedom, and yet mink continue to be persecuted for preying on other animals.

What’s Wrong with Mink Farms?

These wild animals are kept in tiny, filthy, barren cages for their entire lives. These wide-roaming, semi-aquatic animals can do nothing to express their natural behaviours, and all the things that matter are denied them. Many display stereotypical behaviours, just like other captive animals in zoos and farms, pacing and circling their cages in distress. Investigations have found sick animals, and many with open wounds and tumours. The conditions are so bad, that mink often self-mutilate.

How Are Mink Killed?

Mink are killed when still young, when their fur is in optimal condition. They may be gassed, anally-electrocuted (to protect the pelt) or have their neck broken.

Where Else is Mink Farming Banned?

In Europe: Austria, Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Bosnia have banned fur farming. France, Norway, Macedonia, Slovakia and Serbia have bans due to come into effect. Ireland has committed to a ban, and legislation is underway in Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine. All German mink farms have closed as the industry declined.

The last fur farm in Japan closed down in 2016 and in New Zealand, it is prohibited to import mink, which effectively bans farming there, while the city of São Paulo in Brazil has also banned fur farming.

Covid on Mink Farms

Factory farms are breeding grounds for disease because of the cramped conditions that stressed animals are forced to endure. Mink farms are no exception. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, mink on more than 400 farms in Europe and North America have been affected, which had led to 20 million animals being culled. With three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases in people coming from animals, and our treatment of them very much in the spotlight, it is time that all intensive farms, including mink farms, are shut down.

What Can We Do?

Never buy fur and be wary of labels claiming fur is faux. As more and more people choose cruelty-free clothes, real fur is harder to sell and the unscrupulous industry has been found to label real fur as fake. Support the Fur Free Alliance, which is an umbrella organisation of campaign groups worldwide.

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