Wisconsin's strong mink industry

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- For 50 years, it has been tradition that Alice in Dairyland receives a mink coat from the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association. The pelts for are donated by a different mink ranch family each year. The Halbach Mink Ranch donated the pelts this year.

The 72nd Alice in Dairyland, Abigail Martin, joined NewsChannel 7 at Noon on Monday. She said Wisconsin actually ranks first in the nation for mink pelts. Wisconsin produced over 900,000 pelts in 2018. That's almost a third of the nation's total.

The state's mink industry has a global reach. Wisconsin exports its agricultural commodities more than 140 countries, and the mink industry provides strong partnerships with countries with Asia and Europe.

Martin said mink are also known as natural recyclers. They require a high-protein diet that is supplemented with calcium. Wisconsin's many processing industries partner with our 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.

Unlike a coat made with plastics and other synthetic fibers, my mink will be a garment that will last a lifetime and can be passed down from generation to generation. Mink keep these items from entering landfills.

Mink ranching is very similar to animal agriculture involving other species of livestock like cattle or swine. Ranchers work closely with veterinarians and nutritionists to maintain the health of the mink, insuring their animals are safe and well cared for. 95% of Wisconsin farms are family owned and operated, and mink ranches are no exception. To see their family business continue into the future, it makes good business sense to provide quality care to their mink to offer a quality product, which continually puts Wisconsin mink at the top worldwide.

Martin also talked about the variety of colors that mink items can be. The most common by far is black. Black mink made up 63% of Wisconsin's total last year. White came in second at 14 percent. Some may not realize the natural color classes of mink like pastel, sapphire, and violet.

You can find Alice in Dairyland on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. People can also follow Marti's blog at aliceindairyland.com.