By RODNEY D. BOAM
The Mink industry is growing in Franklin County and the rest of Idaho as the world’s appetite for the fine fur increases.
Mink rancher Lewis Palmer is trying to strengthen his position in the market. He said he has just completed his harvest but is not sure how well he will do until his pelts are sold at market.
“Mink is selling good in Copenhagen right now and it looks like it is going to be a good year. Usually the colder the winter the better the sales go. It’s been colder in China and Europe, so the market is looking good.”
Lewis and other mink fur producers in the area are reluctant to talk about numbers and locations of their animals due to repeated attacks by animal rights groups.
The winter was warmer in Franklin County than usual leading into the harvest. Palmer said the coats are better when the weather is on the warm side because the animals are not as stressed.
The quality of the coats has more to do with the light than the temperature, Palmer said.
One of he hurdles of raising mink in general is Aleutian disease (AD).
“We are AD free, but it’s something that is an ongoing struggle for all the mink ranchers in our area. AD can wipe out a whole of herd of mink,” Palmer said.
The disease progresses slowly, taking up to one year before the mink manifest any symptoms. AD weakens the immune system of the animal so if the virus doesn’t kill the animal, a secondary infection can take it.
Palmer said he uses blood tests to determine if his animals have AD.
“If someone comes to look at my mink and they are from out of town or someone I don’t know, I have them put on protective wear,” Palmer said.
“AD is very rampant around the country and it could cause problems with production. It’s not something you want to deal with. It can be detrimental to mink production. Some mink farmers are more protective than others.”
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