Background of action plan for mating
This section describes the theoretical background, knowledge and experiences
which form the basis of the suggestions and recommendations to the mating
of mink. It comprises mating conditions, mating, late implantation as well
as feeding and care of the mink. The special reproduction conditions of mink
are relatively well documented (Hansson, 1947; Enders, 1952; Venge, 1973),
and the description below is based on these sources if nothing else is mentioned.
Female mink are usually in heat at the end of February or the beginning of
March. It has been somewhat uncertain whether the mating development of the
mink is cyclic or permanent. Today the opinion is that there are mature follicles
all the time and that the females remain in heat until mating (Elofson et
al. , 1989; Lagerkvist, 1992). After mating the mating season of the females
is over, until new follicles can mature after approx. 8 days. Today's theory
on the course of the mating season of mink in relation to the time of and
the number of matings is illustrated in the figure below.
Schematic illustration of the course of the mating
season in female mink being mated 0, 1 or 2 times
The willingness to mate is gradually increasing through the month of March
(Elofson et al., 1989). Matings are therefore started on March 6-7 where
the majority of the females are in heat. If one starts at an earlier date
there is a risk that not all females are willing to mate.
It has been proven that the faster the animals start to mate after they have
been put together, the better the breeding result will be. Females beginning
to mate within 10 minutes at a remating thus gave birth to 1,3 kits more
than females that started after more than 20 minutes (Åhman, 1966).
In practice it will be seen that some females, strains or colour types are
less willing to mate than others. The reason for these differences has not
been clarified, but it is possible that there are individual and genetic
differences in the start of the mating season of the individual females and
in the strength of the mating season of females and strains. As the length
of the day controls the annual cycle of mink, the light conditions in the
building may affect the mating season (Møller, 1989). According to
the above it should help on both late and weak mating season to postpone
the mating attempts to later in the season. As the mating willingness and
the breeding result depend on each other, it is wise not to force matings
through if the female is not ready.
At mating the female is moved to the male's cage as the mating would otherwise
be prolonged since the male would start by examining the female's cage (Madsen,
1984; Venge, 1973). If the female is in heat, the courtship begins and after
some time the male bites on to the neck of the female, and the mating starts.
A successful courtship and mating is often indicated by a characteristic
Play the chuckling of mating mink: