Have you found yourself looking for a comfortable winter coat that is sustainably produced? A warm coat that is perfect for formal events, produced locally, and is biodegradable? You’re in luck, because Wisconsin has the perfect fit: mink.

Not only are Wisconsin mink garments ideal for staying cozy during the winter months, but they are beautiful to wear. Mink have short “guard hairs,” giving mink coats and hats a sleek look. Mink fur is also extremely soft, thanks to the density of its hair. A mink has 24,000 hairs per cm2. By comparison, the density of hair on a human head is approximately 190 hairs per cm2.

Wisconsin has an international reputation for producing the world’s highest quality mink. Our state’s climate makes it the perfect place to raise mink. Winters are cold enough for mink to produce a full, high-quality coat, yet the summers are not unbearably hot. Year-round, Wisconsin mink are raised with great care. From providing an optimal diet to preventing and responding to diseases like COVID-19, mink ranchers – who are certified to humanely raise their animals – work with veterinarians and nutritionists to keep their mink safe, happy and healthy.

One of the most interesting facts about mink is they’re recyclers. A large part of the mink diet is food byproducts that are not fit for human consumption. Wisconsin food processors partner with our state’s mink breeders to utilize waste products from foods like meat, fish, liver, eggs and cheese. The specially-formulated meal is mixed fresh daily, and the mink diet helps keep food waste from entering landfills.

After the high-quality pelts are removed, carcasses are repurposed for pet food or even crab bait. Another byproduct from mink is the oil produced from its thick layer of subcutaneous fat. According to Fur Commission USA, mink oil is used to condition and preserve leather, as well as the manufacturing of hypoallergenic facial oils and cosmetics. At a time when sustainability is important to farmers, processors and consumers alike, Wisconsin’s mink breeders are a great example of commitment to their industry.

For more than 50 years, the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association has continued the tradition of donating a garment that is presented to each Alice in Dairyland. This year, the Zimbal Mink Farm graciously donated pelts for my mink coat. The coat is beautiful and unique. Everywhere I go, I am proud to say it is genuine Wisconsin mink.

Alice in Dairyland Julia Nunes can be reached at DATCP, 2811 Agriculture Drive, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53718 or DATCPAlice@wisconsin.gov.

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