Infection with Aleutian mink disease virus (AMDV) has negative effects on reproductive performance and survival rate of American mink (Neovison vison). The objectives of this study were to assess the effects of kelp (Ascophylum nodosum) supplementation on survival, growth rate, and reproductive performance of mink challenged with AMDV. AMDV-free female black mink (n = 75) were intranasally inoculated with a local AMDV strain. Mink were fed a commercial pellet supplemented with 1.5% or 0.75% kelp or were kept as controls (received no kelp) for 451 d. Body weight and rectal temperature were recorded on days 0, 31, 56, 99, 155, 366, and 451 post inoculation (PI). Annual mortality rates were 13.6%, 20.0%, and 31.8% for mink fed 1.5%, 0.75%, or 0.0% kelp, respectively (P = 0.29). Mink which were fed 1.5% kelp had a significantly (P < 0.01) greater daily weight loss during breeding and post-breeding periods (days 155–366 PI), and outperformed (P < 0.01) the other groups in regard to litter sizes at birth and weaning. Differences among treatments were not significant for the number of females mated, or whelped of those exposed to males, kit survival from birth to weaning, or rectal temperature. It was concluded that 1.5% kelp supplementation had beneficial effects on survival rate of adult mink and litter size.
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