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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   75

They say that the chief difficulties are in securing the first litter from the wild animals and in getting suitable food. The wild mink is usually wholly unsusceptible to domestication or even semi-domestication. They frequently kill themselves by hanging, cutting their throats, or beating their heads against a wall. Most of them will commit suicide or die of fear on the near approach of a dog. These facts have been corroborated in the experience of 1912, a large pro-portion of wild foxes having died while being shipped and a large number of those caught for ranching purposes being found dead, some-times badly cut or lacerated.

If the young are taken from the mother as early as possible—say six weeks or seven weeks old, in Eastern Canada about June 15—they become very tame and, according to the advocates of this new method of ranching, can be reared in family colonies afterwards. A colony house, or large box, can be provided and a considerable runway or paddock may extend in front to include a portion of a stream.

The food is English sparrows, frogs, meat, fish, bread and milk. The young are fed new milk. An English sparrow each day is the proper amount of food. As they are promiscuous in mating, the majority of the males may be slaughtered and only the finest kept.

The method of ranching mink which has been used almost The single exclusively in America is one which employs a small pen Pen System for each animal and supplies the water in troughs to each

pen. The two largest establishments visited consisted of an ordinary barn about 20 feet wide and 30 feet long. The walls were open under the eaves to make the interior as airy as possible. On either side of a central alley were pens about 4 feet wide and 8 feet long, provided with a nest box on a slight elevation, and having a crooked passage for entrance. Water ran through troughs at the ends of the pen, or was pumped in daily. The partitions were of wire above and boards near the floor. If wire is used for the walls, an overhang is necessary to prevent climbing out, or the wire might be made to extend over the pens completely. Very little light is requu ed, as the mink usually sleeps during the day.

Mink can be reared in such pens, but there are grave doubts of the permanency of the good health of the animals. In a Nova Scotia ranch there was no difficulty in rearing an aver age of thi ee and a half to a litter. The young minks had litters of from two to four and the older breeders sometimes had six. With such satisfactory results, when every pair raised could be sold for $40 and food could be procured freely, it is inconceivable why development of the business did not proceed. The managers were continually selling off their stock


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