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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Danish Institute of Animal Science, Research Centre Foulum, P.O. Box 39, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.|
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