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76   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

and capturing more wild ones. They also admitted that they would not again use board floors for mink, but would have pens enclosing a larger area of ground. From these facts, it may readily be concluded that there were considerable difficulties of some kind.

 

 

The mink appears to thrive on any kind of food that a cat would thrive on. At the Centreville ranch, fish and fish offal were the principal diet, and were fed in large quantities, though, as stated below, no more than they will eat should be fed to them. Milk, eggs, bread, fish and meat are staples. The English sparrow is a great favourite for mink food and frogs and live eels are also fed. A mink will frequently eat food with avidity when it is thrown into the water, whereas it might refuse to eat it if placed in its feeding trough.

A study of the literature available leads to the conclusion

Proper Site that it will be possible to rear mink in secluded wooded for Pens

areas on the banks of a stream or pond. The method

adopted at Lac Chaud is sure to be, at least, partially successful and may prove to be profitable. The cost of building a mink-proof fence in the water is high, compared with the cost of building on land. For this reason a site on an island is not consider ed as good as a site on a pond; for the whole pond or lake can be enclosed with a land fence. Thus a small lake, a dam, or a stream can be utilized for a ranch of any of the above-mentioned types. A shed could be built on the banks of a stream and the pens extended outside the walls of the building across the stream. The pens need not be wider than 3 or 4 feet nor longer than 5 or 6 feet inside the building, but should be twice as long outside. To prevent burrowing the outside walls should be sunk in the ground about 18 inches, except where in the water. If the natural method of ranching is used, two water areas would be necessary to provide two fenced areas.

It is advisable to double fence a mink ranch, similarly to a fox ranch, in order to prevent their escape and to keep off intruders, especially dogs and other wild animals, the smell or sight of which seems to inspire the mink with great fear.

In the natural method of ranching, the sexes seek each other out, but, when one animal is placed in each pen, the keeper has to be very watchful during the latter part of February and up to the middle of March. The male mink can be admitted through chutes and has to be withdrawn at once if the two begin to quarrel. If no quarreling occurs, the male is not withdrawn for two days. Mating usually takes place within two weeks, and constant watchfulness has to be exercised to prevent fights when the male is admitted at the wrong time.


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