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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   39

food should be given. When the mother appears after the young are born, she should be fed well several times a day with meat, eggs, fresh new milk, meat broth, well-cooked oatmeal and other appetizing and varied foods, while a supply of clean, wholesome water in a clean trough should be constantly available. Live rabbits and poultry, squirrel and other game may be used to give variety to the mother's ration.

Despite the assertions of many experienced breeders that Failure in feeding is the most difficult of all operations in fox Management ranching, very little evidence was found to comfirm this

opinion. Few cases of failure due to bad dieting were noted. It is not difficult to keep foxes alive in captivity and, usually, the cause of nearly every loss can be traced. Occasionally mature foxes die suddenly and no satisfactory cause of death can be found, even though post-mortem examinations have been carefully performed by qualified operators. The proportion of deaths, however, is low, only four being reported in Prince Edward Island in 1912, though probably more took place.

In most cases, lack of success may be attributed to an inexperienced keeper. When men who have never fed even a horse or cow, attempt to rear foxes, they may keep them alive, and may rear a few young, but the probability of failure is great. The failures are usually made in feeding to maintain good breeding condition, and in the care and feeding at the critical period of whelping and rearing the young. The keeper's own character and disposition will have much to do with the success with shy and nervous foxes at this period. A good manager is always studying his animals at the breeding season and he carefully notes the dates of mating and whelping. He treats each pair according to their dispositions. In some cases he separates the male and female before whelping and, in other cases, he leaves them together. He must be observant, resourceful and faithful, for he is dealing with animals which have had only several generations of domestic breeding.

The critical period of each year in breeding foxes is

Mating and   between the dates January 1 and June 30. At this time Gestation

as the wild nature of some of the foxes renders them

exceedingly sensitive to strange sights, noises and smells, all ranches are closed to every one but the keepers. The keeper usually wears the same overcoat when about the pens. All domestic animals are kept at a distance from even the outer fence. Strangers are warned not to approach the ranch premises on pain of being fined for trespass. In


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