(WSAW) -- Wisconsin agriculture may not be top of mind as we see the frozen ground and snow-covered fields, but a key industry for our state keeps us warm in this chilly winter weather.
The 71st Alice in Dairyland, Kaitlyn Riley, joined NewsChannel 7 at Noon on Monday with some examples of Wisconsin mink products.
She brought along a mahogany coat donated by Zimbal Mink with the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association and a matching Zimbal mahogany headband.
The Zimbal Family has been a part of Wisconsin's mink industry since the 1950s. Today, they are looking forward to having the fifth generation join the family business.
Riley explained the uniqueness ab out the coat, by showcasing the versatility of mink and ability to be customized for design and colors that fit a customer's taste.
Mink require a high-protein diet that is supplemented with calcium. Wisconsin's many processing industries partner with breeders to turn waste meat, fish, cheese and other products into the perfect food staple that is mixed fresh and fed to the animals daily.
She added that as our state's natural recyclers, mink keep these items from entering landfills.
Riley said we may not always think of fur as a part of Wisconsin agriculture, but the state actually has a very strong mink industry.
Wisconsin actually ranks first in the nation for mink pelts. Our state produced nearly 1.1 million pelts in 2017. That's almost a third of the nation's total.
Our mink industry has a global reach. Wisconsin exports its agricultural commodities to 147 countries, and the mink industry provides strong partnerships with countries with Asia and Europe. The total value of those pelts brought almost $40 million to Wisconsin's economy last year.
You can find Alice in Dairyland on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. People can also follow her blog at aliceindairyland.com.