Farm life: miserable and fraught with intense suffering

Caged white mink at a fur farm

Caged white mink at a fur farm

In the name of ensuring a healthy profit for fur farmers, millions of animals are forced to endure the most profound indifference to their suffering and most basic needs every year.

On these farms, animals are frequently crammed into row upon row of tiny barren cages and left to stand on metal bars for their entire lives.

Standing room only

On Chinese fur farms, for example, foxes and raccoon dogs are confined in rows of wire mesh cages that are only 90cm long, 70cm wide and 60 cm high. These cages sometimes house two animals.

Fur-farm “living conditions” do not allow the animals to behave at all naturally and as a result they develop abnormal (stereotypic) behaviours, including bobbing their heads up and down, biting their fur, sucking their tails, pacing and repeatedly turning in circles.

Is this slaughter fashionable? What’s the real price of a fur coat?

Conditions and killing techniques on fur farms do not take into account the welfare of the animals. For example, mink are usually gassed with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, in a ‘killing box’ that varies in size, but in Europe tends to contain 30 to 50 mink at a time; many actually die from suffocation rather than gassing.

Larger animals, like foxes and raccoon dogs, are commonly electrocuted. Animals are also killed by injection, but it is never possible to humanely inject a wild and fearful animal.

Legislation, what legislation?

China has no legal provisions for animal welfare, and for this reason, as well as the availability of cheap labour, a growing number of international fur traders, processors and fashion designers have gradually shifted their businesses here, thus avoiding any “restrictive” regulations and so increasing their profit margins.

In the USA, neither the federal Animal Welfare Act nor the federal Humane Slaughter Act cover animals raised for fur.

The horrors of fur farming in Europe, where there is legislation in place to protect some of the animals’ most basic needs, were exposed and the myth of ‘ethical fur’ was shattered in 2009 by the Norwegian organisation Network for Animal Freedom and the Finnish organisation ALiberation.