Stereotypic behaviour in farm mink (Neovison vison) can be reduced by selection


B.K. Hansen, University of Aarhus, Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Research Centre Foulum, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark. Tel: +45 89 99 13 37; Fax: +45 89 99 13 00; E-mail:


In this article we present the first estimation of genetic variation of stereotypic behaviour (SB). Stereotypic behaviour is defined as an unvarying behaviour without any specific goal or function repeated at least five times. All types of SB were included in the analyses. Altogether 1484 adult mink females of the brown colour type were assessed for behaviour traits: SB, active or inactive behaviour, staying in nest box. Genetic correlations were based on estimates of additive genetic (co)variances obtained from a trivariate linear animal model fitted to behaviour traits, body weight and litter size. The SB has an intermediate genetic variation (h2∼0.3) and divergent selection for SB confirmed that the frequency of SB can be altered by selection. The results confirmed the hypotheses of negative genetic correlation between SB and body weight and negative genetic correlation between body weight and litter size. The hypotheses of positive correlation between SB and active behaviour and SB and litter size were not confirmed. Consequences of selection for reduced SB can be changes in other behaviour traits, body weight and litter size, depending on the genetic correlation between the traits.