In Russia we breed mink, arctic fox, sable, fox, nutria, polecat, and raccoon. One third of all furs is obtained in the northern European region of Russia (generally in the Karelia, Leningrad and Murmansk regions), one third - in the central region of Russia and in the South, and one third - in Siberia, in the Urals and in the Far East.
A fur farm is an industrial enterprise, where animals are raised in cages (sheds). Animal-feed, which include all the necessary components for an animals" growth and good fluffiness, are prepared for these animals. All the necessary veterinary measures (vaccination and so on) are also carried out, so that all of the animals are healthy.
Sable is rightfully considered to be the main pride of the Russian fur-farming industry. Only in our country has this animal been bred on an industrial scale for many decades. One of the most important achievements of Russian fur-farmers is black sable, which has won world-wide recognition. This animal was raised on the "Pushkinskij" fur farm, which has become the main center for sable-breeding in our country.
Breeding of fur-bearing animals in order to obtain fur pelts had already started in Russia by the 18th century. Then semi-free-range fur farming became wide-spread when all of the animals were in the wild and the cubs were trapped and raised in wooden shed, specially built for them. At the end of the 18th century free-range fur farming developed: the animals brought to islands couldn"t migrate to the mainland and bred on a limited territory where they were easily caught in autumn. However, breeding of the animals in captivity turned out to be more profitable than all the previous experiences. By the middle of the 19th century the successful captive breeding of arctic foxes and foxes had already been achieved in Russia. A.V. Malner took part in the formation of the Russian national fur business, having written the first book on fur farming and founded "The Russian society of economic breeding of fur-bearing animals and game animals" representatives".
Fur farming in Russia was put on an industrial footing at the end of the 1920s - beginning of 1030s. Big farms and small collective farms were founded, great scientists from Moscow"s Zoological Technical Institute, from which the Institute of fur farming (later Moscow"s Fur- Institute) has consequently separated, trained qualified specialists in fur farming.
By the beginning of the 40s there were more than 30 state fur farms in the country, which provided thousands of collective farms with animals and supplied the state with furs for export. It was mainly silver-black fox, which was bred on the farms.
Fur farming development was put on hold by the war, however, it turned out that the best animals had been preserved, and by 1944 the number of animals reached the pre-war level again after the war captive farming was reconstructed. During the first years after the war all efforts were aimed at increasing the total number of animals, but in the 60s fur farmers indulged in selection, trying to get new colorations of animals. Thus, sapphire mink, dark grey-blue mink with violet tint and maculate minks and many other animals were obtained.
In the 70-80s the total number of animals stabilized and further fur farming development was aimed at the extension of fur farms and their specialization. The highest point in the history of fur farming in our country took place at the end of the 80s, when more than 16 million skins were produced annually; the majority being mink (about 14millions skins). Other production leaders were arctic fox, fox, nutria sable and polecat.
The dramatic slump in Russian fur farming which has been visible over the last 10 years has automatically reduced the sales volume of caged furs: the total production of mink, arctic fox and fox decreased from 16, 9 million pieces in 1990, to 3 million pieces in 2000 - this is more than a five-fold reduction. At the present time only about 40 fur farms are active (in soviet times they numbered up to 250). But the results of the last three seasons indicate that a revival has started, the total number of the animals is rising and the quality characteristics of the caged furs are improving.