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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   85

value. But the actual test has yet to be made and carried over a term of several years before a decision can be reached as to the degree of success and the profit to be expected. Many facts of vital importance, such as methods of insuring breeding, the rate and dates of breeding, the most satisfactory and economical food supply, improvement of fur by selection of breeders, and age and date when fur reaches its greatest perfection, remain to be worked out. If the necessary experiments can be carried to a successful conclusion, a valuable industry will be added to our national resources."

SKUNK (Mephitis)

No skunk-farms that were examined could be regarded as corn mer cial ventures, but two or three ranches purposed to build larger pens when the animals increased in numbers sufficiently. The increase in all cases examined was an average of five young for each female kept. One male was kept for each half dozen females.

The question always asked when skunk-farming is mentioned, is concerning the difficulty of conducting such a business in any reputable neighbourhood on account of scenting. Contrary to popular expectation the skunk appears to be least objectionable of all ranched animals, the fox being the most objectionable. One might pass alongside a hundred skunks and not observe any odour. They can be easily handled as the accompanying photograph shows. While they may be deodorized by cutting into the scent glands when they are about ten days old, the operation is an unnecessary one, and may be even harmful to the animal.

Skunks are graded according to the proportion of white hair on the skin; as No. 1 with no stripes or very short ones; No. 2, with longer stripes, and No. 3 when the stripes extend the full length of the body. The white part is cut off the pelts and only the black fur is used so that there is a larger area of good fur on No. 1 pelts than on the whiter ones.

It is probable that the rapidly advancing prices of skunk in 1912 will give an impetus to the skunk-raising industry. No. 1 northern skunk brings $4.25 at present and, if this price continues, there is a large profit to be made in skunk-farming.

Skunks can be kept in captivity under conditions similar to those recommended for mink. On account, however, of the lower value of the pelts and the less vicious and even harmless nature of the animal, it is better to allow them a large run together. The males will not injure the females, but the females will kill the males after mating if they are kept enclosed with them. The females might be kept in pens,


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