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Juvenile farmed mink (Mustela vison) with additional access to swimming water play more frequently than animals housed with a cylinder and platform, but without swimming water

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The opportunity to perform play behaviour may be an important ontogenic activity that stimulates behavioural variability and may enhance an individual's coping capacity later in life. Play behaviour in juveniles may be enhanced by the presence of cage enrichments relevant to the animal's motivations and natural behavioural repertoire. The present study aimed to investigate play behaviour in juvenile farmed mink reared and housed with the cage enrichments standard for the Dutch housing system (ie a cylinder and platform) and in an experimental group of animals with the same standard enrichments but with additional access to swimming water. Juvenile mink with access to swimming water played significantly more in the main cage than mink reared and housed with the cylinder and platform but without swimming water. The results suggest that swimming water presents the animals with biologically relevant stimuli that directly or indirectly influence the development of play behaviour. Specific implications for the animals' long-term welfare are discussed. Future studies should elucidate the effects of juvenile play on the occurrence of abnormal behavioural patterns in adulthood more precisely and more thoroughly.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; COPING CAPACITY; ENRICHMENT; MINK; NEEDS; PLAY BEHAVIOUR

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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