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Volume 181: debated on Monday 26 November 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether Pentobarbitone is authorised for the killing of farmed mink.

Pentobarbitone is an approved drug for use in the euthanasia of all species of farm livestock.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the environmental needs of farmed mink; and if he will make the amendments necessary to the existing orders to make provision for such needs.

I have received a statement on fur farming from the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and the Council of Europe has recently agreed a recommendation concerning the welfare of fur-bearing animals under the convention for the protection of animals kept for farming purposes.Contracting parties must implement this recommendation and for member states of the European Community it is likely that the Commission will propose Community legislation. Existing legislation in this country relates to security on mink farms and would not be a suitable vehicle for welfare matters.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he takes to ensure the proper qualifications of those involved in the killing of farmed mink; and what records he keeps of such personnel.

There is no requirement for any farmers to receive training in the methods of killing their own livestock. Nevertheless, when this is done it must be undertaken with due care and humanity.

The minimum specifications for the guard fence of a mink enclosure are laid down in Schedule 2 paragraph 2 of the Mink (Keeping) Regulations, 1975 (as amended). This states "enclosures shall be bounded by a guard fence consisting of wire netting of not less than 19 gauge with a mesh size not greater than 26mm or, alternatively, welded mesh of not less than 15 gauge with a mesh size not greater than 26mm x 40mm. The fence shall be not less than 1ยท20m high above ground level. The base of the fence shall be buried in the ground to a depth of at least 300mm and turned outwards at the bottom at right angles for at least 150mm or shall be embedded in a trench of the same depth the bottom of which shall be provided with a foundation at least 150mm wide on each side and at least 150mm deep of either concrete or of consolidated hard core of brick or concrete rubble or of similar or solid and durable material. At the top of the fence there shall be flat sheet metal at least 300mm deep securely attached to the inside of the wire netting and to any fence post inside the enclosure so as to form a continuos baffle leaving no gap between the wire and the sheet metal."