The Effect of diet fat and feeding intensity on production performance and welfare in blue foxes (Vulpes lagopus)

Production performance and welfare in blue fox


  • Hannu Tapio Korhonen Luonnonvarakeskus (Luke)
  • Juhani Sepponen Luonnonvarakeskus (Luke)


energy metabolism, farmed fox, feeding regimen, animal welfare


 The aim was to found out effects of maximum and restricted feeding intensity with high and normal diet fat content on production performance and welfare in growing-furring blue foxes. Study groups were: (1) high fat, 60% of metabolizable energy (ME), maximum feeding; (2) high fat, 60% of ME; restricted feeding 20%.  (3) normal fat, 50% of ME, maximum feeding; (4) normal fat, 50% of ME, restricted feeding 20%.  Maximum fed animals grew better, and their final weights were significantly higher compared to restricted ones (P<0.001). Body condition score was affected by feeding intensity (P<0.001) but not by the amount of fat in the diet. Animals fed maximum feeding level had highest body condition score. The amount of diet fat did not influence on feed consumption.  Breaking strength of ulna was not affected by the amount of diet fat or feeding intensity. Breaking strength of radius, on the other hand, was higher in animals fed restricted (P<0.001). Feeding intensity significantly affected on foot condition, i.e. foot bending was highest at maximum feeding groups (P<0.05). Ash content of bones was higher in maximum feeding groups compared to restricted ones (P<0.001).  As content was higher in restricted than ad libitum animals (P<0.05). Liver weights were heaviest in animals of maximum feeding level (P<0.001).  Condition of liver was best in restricted fed animals with lower amount of diet fat (P<0.05).  According to live animal grading, fur mass, cover, purity and overall impression were poorer in restricted fed animals. Animals fed high fat diet were found to have better fur properties than restricted ones.


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