Mink Farms Recycle Waste That Would Otherwise Go to Landfills
Farmed mink play an important role in the agricultural chain, consuming large quantities of by-products from the production of human food. Farmed mink also provide fine oils, organic fertilizers and other products. Nothing is wasted.
It is estimated that worldwide, fur farms consume over a billion pounds of these by-products annually. The menu varies depending on what is available locally. In coastal regions, diets are likely to be based on fish. Elsewhere, fur farmers may rely on by-products from meat and poultry-processing plants, or dairy producers. Diets are also supplemented as necessary with prepared rations sold by animal feed companies. In producing 100,000 mink pelts a year, one farm in Wisconsin feeds its animals 2 million pounds of expired cheeses and 1 million pounds of damaged eggs.
The by-products described here are unsuitable for human consumption, and that which is not sold to fur farms or pet-food producers must be disposed of – typically in landfills. By buying these by-products, fur farms reduce the waste generated by human food production while providing a source of revenue for other agricultural producers, effectively subsidizing food costs for consumers.
An important secondary product is the highly valued oil produced from the mink’s thick layer of subcutaneous fat. Mink oil is used to condition and preserve leather, and also in the manufacturing of hypoallergenic facial oils and cosmetics.
The carcasses are rarely eaten by humans as the scent gland gives the meat a flavor which most people don’t enjoy. But they still have their uses. Some farmers sell them as crab bait, or give them to wildlife preserves, zoos or aquariums. Others will use them to make organic compost. Or they may be rendered down to provide raw materials for a wide range of products, from pet food and organic fertilizers, to tires, paint and even cosmetics. Last but not least, the nutrient-rich manure from fur farms is in heavy demand as a natural crop fertilizer.