Fur farming

Most fur sold globally is from farmed animals (at least 85%), as mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, rabbits and chinchillas. Worldwide each year more than 100 million animals are killed on fur farms after short and miserable lives in small wire mesh battery cages, only for fashion.

Keeping wild predators in small cages results in numerous serious stress-related health problems – as infected wounds, missing limbs, cannibalism and stereotypical behaviour. To preserve the pelts animals on fur farms or killed by cruel methods as gassing, neck-breaking, anal electrocution and sometimes skinning alive.

Welfare problems of battery cages

Mink and foxes, the main species of animals reared in fur factory farms, are active wide-ranging carnivores and inherently unsuitable to be kept in wire mesh battery cages.

The behavioural needs of animals kept for fur cannot be met on fur farms

  • Animals kept for fur have been subjected to relatively little active selection for tameness and adaptability to captive environments.[1]
  • Mink and foxes are highly inquisitive and wide-roaming predatory animals
  • The battery cage system deprives animals from the opportunity to express their species-specific behaviour


 In nature:

●       Mink daily cover wide territories between 1 and 3 km2(@designer: square km)[2]

●       Solitary animals

●       Semi-aquatic. Swimming and diving are highly significant aspect of their lifestyle[3]

●       Stereotypies such as fur chewing and circling, do not occur in nature[4]

On fur farms:

●       Mink spend their entire life in a wire mesh battery cage typically measuring 90x30x45 cm

●       Live extremely near other mink unable to avoid social contact

●       Cannot run, swim nor hunt

●       Deprivation of swimming water results in the same stress level as deprivation of food[5]

●       Foxes have complex social lives: they form pairs and live in family groups[6]

●       Dig dens with many tunnels

●       The red fox (with a territory of 0.5-10km2) covers 10 km daily and the arctic fox (with a home range of 20-30 km2) migrates around 100 km in one season[7]



●       Foxes are kept solitary in battery cages preventing natural social interaction

●       Denied the opportunity to run, dig, play and explore[8]

●       Kept in wire mesh battery cages measuring 0.8-1.2 m2[9]



The cramped and monotonous battery cage system causes severe welfare problems

Credit: Oikeutta eläimille

Stereotypies (repetitive movements such as circling and pacing), fur chewing, self-injury, biting injuries, are caused by frustration of highly-motivated ranging and foraging behaviours and are a sign of extremely poor animal welfare.[10],[11],[12] Other physical or behavioural abnormalities exhibited by animals on fur farms are bent feet, reproductive failure, obesity and infanticide.[13],[14] ,[15]


WelFur™, the industry-led animal welfare assessment scheme, fails to adequately address the significant welfare problems caused by the confinement of animals to battery cage systems on fur farms.

The WelFur protocols do not address the small cage sizes nor the inhumane handling and killing methods.



The battery cage system on fur farms has remained largely unchanged over the years.

‘Current husbandry systems cause serious problems for all species of animals reared for fur’

European Commission’s Scientific Committee of Animal Welfare and Animal Health




‘The animal welfare in fur farming has shown little improvement over the last 15 years, despite the use of disproportionately large official resources both on research and inspection’

Norwegian Veterinary Association



 An Inhumane Death


Scientific reviews have condemned the commonly used killing methods, such as gassing and head-to tail electrocution, as inhumane.           

  • Mink are semi-aquatic and highly evolved physiologically to hold their breath. They are therefore highly tolerant to hypoxia (low levels of oxygen), which means they can suffer significantly during gassing.[16]


  • “Killing mink with CO2 should be avoided, and humane methods developed.” (SCAHAW, 2001)[17]


  • Fox and raccoon dogs are generally electrocuted through the mouth and anus, a method with potential for severe pain and distress for the animal.


Facts on fur farming legislation

 The tide is turning against the practice of fur production as concerns about animal welfare and the ethics of fur continue to grow. Many EU Member States have already adopted legislation to prohibit or limit fur farming, but further measures are needed.


The conditions on fur farms are similar worldwide

A systematic analysis of the legislation in Denmark, Norway and China has shown that the legislation for fur farming does not significantly differ between Europe and China.[18] On a fundamental level, fur farming leads to similar welfare problems all over the world as the animals are denied the ability to express many of their species-specific behaviours.[19]


 Fur farming prohibitions in Europe do not increase fur production in China 

China already counts for more than half of the world’s fur production.[20] The European fur industry has contributed to the growth of Chinese fur farming, through their marketing of fur and fur

production in China.[21] As the ethical awareness of animal welfare issues grows worldwide, young people in China are becoming increasingly aware of animal welfare issues. European nations should take global leadership on animal welfare by banning fur farming.


Fur farming does not create stable jobs in Europe

Fur farming is a small sector in the EU and employment opportunities on fur farms are relatively limited, and most often seasonal in nature. Employment on fur farms is usually part-time and carried out during killing and pelting season. These are not regular full-time jobs. As the tide is turning against the practice of fur production, the fact is that fur farming is an increasingly unstable industry, both economically and politically.


Fur farming does not contribute to rural development in the EU

Fur farming does not contribute to positive synergy effects on tourism, technology development or on the landscape. Due to the environmental problems, including the unpleasant odour around fur farms, the chance of developing the area in terms of tourism are smaller, local residents may be affected and investments may be hindered.[22]


Closing down fur farms does not cause high unemployment

As the number of fur farms in many countries decreases, the existing fur farms are becoming bigger, but are not necessarily employing more people.[23] The fur industry used to estimate the number of full-time jobs to be 10 full-time jobs per fur farm.[24] This number is likely an overestimation and mainly refers to indirect jobs. Figures from Sweden and Norway give an average of 3 workers per fur farm.[25],[26] With a total of about 5 000 fur farms in Europe[27], it corresponds to 15 000 direct jobs. There is little evidence that the closure of fur farms has led to significant unemployment.[28] Besides, studies show that fur farming is only a part-time business for many farmers who also run a traditional farm or other enterprise.[29],[30]


[1] European Commision (2001) The Welfare of Animals Kept for Fur Production. Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare. Adopted on 12-13 December 2001.

[2] Nimon, A.J. & Broom, D.M. (1999) The welfare of farmed mink (Mustela vison) in relation to housing and management: a review. Animal Welfare 8: 205-228.

[3] Poole, T.B & Dunstone, N. (1976): Underwater predatory behaviour of the American mink (Mustela vison). Journal of Zoology, 178:395-412.

[4] Nimon & Broom.

[5] Mason, Cooper & Clarebrough (2001) Frustrations in fur-farmed mink. Nature 410: 35-36.

[6]  European Commission (2001).

[7] European Commission (2001).

[8] Broom, DM. et al (1998): Report on the welfare of farmed mink and foxes in relation to housing and management. Cambridge University.

[9] European Commission.

[10] Hansen, SW. & Jeppesen L.L (2006) Temperament, stereotypies and anticipatory behaviour as measures of welfare in mink. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 99 (1-2), 172-182

[11] Bildsoe, M., Heller, K.E., Jeppesen, L.L (1991) Effects of immobility stress and food restriction on stereotypies in low and high stereotyping female rach mink. Behavioural Processes 25, 179-189

[12] Vinke, C.M., Eenkhoorn, N.C., Netto, W.J., Fermont, P.C.J. and

Spruijt, B.M. (2002) Stereotypic behaviour and tail biting

in farmed mink (Mustela vison) in a new housing system.

Animal Welfare, 11: 231-245.

[13] Olofsson, L. and Lidfors, L. (2012) Abnormal behaviour in

Swedish farm mink during winter, pp 426-432 in: P.F. Larsen

et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the Xth International Scientific

Congress in fur animal production. Wageningen Academic

Publishers, Wageningen, Netherlands.

[14] Koistinen, T., Huuki, H., Hovland, A.L., Mononen, J. and Ahola,

  1. (2012) WelFur – foxes: do feeding test, temperament

test and a measure of stereotypic behaviour differentiate

between farms? pp 448-454 in: P.F. Larson et al. (eds.)

Proceedings of the Xth International Scientific Congress in fur

animal production. Wageningen Academic Publishers,

Wageningen, Netherlands.

[15] R. Kempe , N. Koskinen , J. Peura , M. Koivula & I. Strandén (2009): Body condition scoring method

for the blue fox (Alopex lagopus), Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science, 59:2, 85-92

[16] Pickett, H. & Harris, S. (2015). The case against fur factory farming. A scientific review of animal welfare standards and Welfur.

[17] European Commission (2001).

[18] Dahlback, M. & Kleveland, L. (2014) En sammanligning av regelverket for pelsdyroppdrett i Kina, Norge og Danmark, Fagnotat Dyrevernalliansen.

[19] NOAH & Animalia (2015) Case Saga Furs. Nordic Fur Trade – Marketed as Responsible Business.

[20] China Daily. “Official statistics key to China’s fur farming industry.” Chinadaily.com.cn. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-08/20/content_21659731.htm (accessed January 11, 2018)

[21] Noah & Animalia.

[22] Bijleveld, M., Korteland, M. & Sevenster, M. (CE Delft, 2011) The Environmental Impact Mink Fur Production.

[23] Besluit van de Deputatie van de provincie Oost-Vlaanderen, 15 March 2007. In: De Argumenten van de Bontindustrie: Weerlegd. (GAIA, 2008)

[24] European Fur Breeders Association, 2008 Annual Report.

[25] Hovland & Boe (2012) Pelsdyrhold i Norge- avvikling, arbeitsforbruk og selskapsform. Norsk institutt for landbruk-sokonomisk forskning.

[26] SOU 2003:86 Djurens välfärd och pälsdjursnäringen: www.regeringen.se/rattsdokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2003/10/sou-200386/ (accessed January 11, 2018)

[27] Fur Europe, 2015 Annual Report.

[28] Hovland & Boe.

[29] Hovland & Boe.

[30] Kamne, U. & Franzén, A. (2014) Efter pälsfarmen – Undersökning av alternativa sysselsättningar. Miljöbyrån Ecoplan.