Water baths for farmed mink: intra-individual consistency and inter-individual variation in swimming behaviour, and effects on stereotyped behaviour
AbstractSwimming behaviour and effects of water baths on stereotyped behaviour in farmed mink (Mustela vison) were studied in three experiments. The singly-housed mink had access from their home cages to extra cages with 20.5 litre water baths. Two short-term experiments aimed to investigate how quickly adult and juvenile mink start using and how consistently they use water baths over 10 days, and whether the extent of the use correlates between dams and their females kits. A four-month experiment was designed to compare the development of stereotyped behaviour in juvenile mink housed with and without swimming opportunity. The behavioural analyses were based on several 24-hour video recordings carried out in all three experiments. There were obvious inter-individual differences and intra-individual consistency in swimming frequency and time. Farmed minks motivation to swim can be assessed in short-term experiments, and measurement of water losses from the swimming baths and use of instantaneous sampling with 10 min sampling intervals provide quite reliable measures of the amount of swimming. The bath use of the juveniles correlated with that of their dams, indicating that an individual minks eagerness to swim may have a genetic component. The lower amount of stereotyped behaviour in mink housed with water baths indicates that long-term access to baths may alleviate frustration in singly-housed juvenile farmed mink.;
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