The effect of different dietary protein levels and DL-methionine (Met) supplementation on hair growth and the resulting pelt quality in mink was studied. Four groups of male mink were fed with four isocaloric diets containing 32% (P32), 24% (P24), 16% (P16) or P24+Met (0.8%) crude protein of dry matter (DM) from September to December. Skin biopsies were taken at the pelting. Histological techniques and computer-assisted light microscopy were used to determine the ratio of activity (ROA) of under hairs and guard hairs respectively. The results showed that when the dietary protein level reduced from 32% to 16%, body length, number and diameter of under hairs and guard hairs of minks declined, and pelt length and pelt weight of minks decreased significantly (p < 0.05). These parameters were similar between P32 and P24 with Met supplementation (p > 0.05). The hair follicle density of the winter coat was not influenced by the dietary protein levels and Met supplementation (p > 0.05). Low-protein diets content led to a reduction of hair follicle developing to next phase. It was documented that 24% crude protein of DM with Met supplementation during growing-furring period was sufficient for minks to express their genetic capacity to develop hair follicles and achieve the prime fur characteristics. Overall this study demonstrated that hair growth and hair properties in pelts are very dependent on the dietary protein and Met supply in the growing-furring period of minks.
Keywords: DL-methionine; mink; protein level.
© 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.