Introduction

From prehistoric times to the present, fur has been the preeminent clothing choice in cold climates, mainly for its insulating qualities but also for its beauty and sense of luxury. Since the mid-20th century its importance has been diminished by the advent of cheaper synthetics, but the rise of fur farming as an alternative to the trapping of wild animals has helped keep the cost of fur down and ensure its continued accessibility. Although most furbear-ing species are still caught in the wild, most furs now derive from domesticated mink and, to a lesser extent, fox.

early attempts to raise mink outdoors, a system of housing has evolved in which the animals occupy rows of wire cages in large sheds with open sides for maximum ventilation (Fig. 1). Yet, even in these facilities, spells of hot weather can result in the loss of animals, so sprinkler systems are often installed for added cooling.

Wide aisles between the rows allow access by motorized feed carts that pump wet feed mixes onto the tops of the wire cages. Droppings are gathered regularly from beneath the cages and either applied directly to agricultural land as fertilizer or collected in waste lagoons for later application.

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