Animal welfare in Danish mink farming

During the past years, consumer demands for animal welfare in modern Danish farming have increased. Quite a while back, Kopenhagen Fur decided to take this issue to heart and set a good example. As early as 1985, the industry prepared guidelines for fur animal welfare - at a time, when no guidelines existed for other livestock farming.

In 1999, Danish and international research formed the basis of a European set of rules to protect fur animals. Since then, new Danish research results have been incorporated into the Danish rules on protection of fur animals from 2007. The Danish rules on mink welfare made in cooperation between Kopenhagen Fur and the Danish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are therefore stricter than the European rules.

All Danish mink farms are subject to annual, statutory veterinarian visits. The visits involve a routine inspection to identify any health or welfare issues on the farm. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration also makes regular inspections of farm welfare.

Danish research in fur animal welfare extends 30 years back with some of the most comprehensive documentation in livestock research in Denmark. Research in mink welfare is performed by scientists from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University and continues to receive funding from the Danish government and Kopenhagen Fur.

Even at EU level, Kopenhagen Fur supports research into animal welfare in connection with the major EU Welfare Quality Project. The project objective is to certify animal welfare at farm level, providing the individual fur farmer with a tool to map and correct any welfare problems and to map and plan farm management according to animal welfare status.

In the long term, the Welfare Quality Project will evolve into a labelling scheme for livestock, thus providing a guarantee to consumers that animal welfare in animal products is ensured through qualified welfare research. As farmer association, Kopenhagen Fur has invested millions in certifying animal welfare of mink at EU level.

The authorities are responsible for checking that legislation is observed at Danish fur farms. If Kopenhagen Fur learns that a farm is acting illegally, the association will take steps to intervene immediately.

When the association is notified that a fur farm is failing to uphold animal welfare, an association representative will visit the farmer as soon as possible. The representative will determine whether there are any problems, and if he/she finds anything criticisable, the farmer will be instructed to correct the problem immediately. If the farmer fails to solve the problem, he/she will be told that Kopenhagen Fur will report the case to the relevant authorities without any further notice.

Kopenhagen Fur never ignores any intelligence, and the association is committed to addressing complaints actively. However, complaints are rare. Kopenhagen Fur handles no more than five complaints annually, and just a couple of them concern animal welfare.