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Selection for behavioural traits in farm mink

By S. W. Hansen

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Over a period of 6 years, >3000 farmed mink were tested for their behavioural response to human contact. Using a simple test (the stick test) repeated for 5 times, the mink were characterized and classified with regard to their response to human contact. Behavioural response that might be caused by genetic factors was found to occur in 3 lines selected for explorative, fearful and aggressive temperament. Over 6 generations, a considerable quantitative difference developed in behavioural response between the 3 selection lines. Selection for fearful behaviour caused the normal habituation towards man to disappear, and 90% of the mink selected for fearfulness responded consistently with fear to human contact. A less distinct effect was found in mink selected for explorative behaviour on human contact. A possible explanation may be that the basic level of explorative behaviour in the population was relatively high, but also that the test used did not allow for a graduation of the explorative behaviour towards confidence. Apart from the last 2 generations of mink selected for fearfulness, all lines showed a pronounced difference in temperament between sexes, females being more fearful than males.

Date 1996
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 49
Issue 2
Pages 137-148
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Danish Institute of Animal Science, Research Centre Foulum, P.O. Box 39, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal genetics
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Breeding
  5. Domestication
  6. Fear
  7. Mammals
  8. mink
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. responses
  11. Selection
  12. temperament
  13. traits
  1. peer-reviewed