Animal well-being and health in fur farms

Animal well-being and health in fur farms


Saga Furs actively tries to contribute to the improvement of animal welfare. Saga Certification is the most important tool in the measurement of animal welfare. Also the WelFur assessment brings new tools for assess.

The international fashion industry is very interested in the conditions in which fur animals are bred. In order to support its partners, Saga Furs must have a means of guidance in the matter. However, within the value chain, animal welfare is ultimately the responsibility of the individual fur farm entrepreneurs who operate at the beginning of the value chain.

Animal well-being and health inspections have been made at fur farms since 2001. Since then, the Saga Certification by Finnish Standards has improved to be the most important management system connected to animal welfare in Finland. The certification system, launched in 2005, is a comprehensive quality system that places great emphasis on animal welfare and health. By gradually increasing the share of certified pelts in its offering, the company makes a commitment for ethical fur production.

To ensure animal well-being and safety, Saga Furs expects all fur farms to comply with the Council of Europe’s recommendation on fur farming or equivalent national or regional regulations or standards. Furthermore, the company reserves the right to abstain from selling or grading pelts that do not comply with current legislation or standards of fur farming or that come from areas that do not have such legislation or standards.

This also applies to situations in which a fur farm or its owners support fur farming in a country or region that does not have the above-mentioned standards. The company monitors that these conditions are met, and if it finds pelts in its own sales or grading selections that do not meet Saga Furs’ criteria, these pelts will be removed and either returned to the owner or destroyed at the pelt supplier’s expense.

Well-being and health is about quality

Animal health and welfare are an absolute prerequisite for high-quality animal breeding. On certified fur farms, animal welfare is promoted with immediate and preventive measures. These include that

  • Spreading of infectious diseases is controlled
  • The farm complies with the vaccination recommendations of FFBA
  • The health of the animals is monitored daily (documentation)
  • The fur animals are dispatchded at the home farm

  • Certification



    Saga Furs is the only fur seller in the industry with a supplier certification and auditing programme on the environment and animal health and welfare. We are the industry leader in certification, and the Saga Certification has been used since 2005.

    Saga Certification by Finnish Standards is a unique farm management system producing the highest level of animal welfare. Responding to demand from global brands and the next generation of consumers on sustainability and animal welfare, Saga Furs has continually developed its certification programme to ensure it meets the high standards that go well beyond what the law requires. For these reasons, Saga Furs is the trusted partner of the fashion industry in providing them with sustainable and ethical furs.

    The Saga Certification system has been in place since 2005 and during this time, the scheme has been developed in cooperation with the industry, Finnish authorities, the EU, and also veterinarians specialised in fur farming. Because of this elaborate work, there are strict animal welfare standards for fur farming, much more than the meat industry.

    Of the fox and Finnraccoon pelts Saga Furs’ auctions, 100% is certified – ensured by third-party audits. Saga pelts come mainly from European fur farms that are inspected and in compliance with the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on Fur Farming. In addition, for example in Finland, the main source of the skins we auction, the law sets requirements on fur farming. These requirements in the law are further complemented by certification.

    Saga Furs is also in the process of increasing the share of certified mink pelts to be sold under our trademark. The first 100% certified mink lot was sold in our auction in March 2017, and also the following auctions have included certified mink lots.

    Per our data from November 2015, 884 of the 965 farms, or 92%, in Finland were certified. More specifically, at the end of 2017, 100% of all fox and Finnraccoon production and approximately 93% of all mink production is certified. Saga Furs has continued to expand the certification process in countries across Europe, as well as begun auditing new potential farm suppliers in the US. Saga Furs has a cooperation agreement with DNV GL on verification of Saga Certification process in other countries. This includes Norway, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

    The main criteria of the Saga Certification by Finnish Standards

  • Animal well-being and health
  • Animal health and welfare are an absolute prerequisite for high-quality animal breeding. On certified fur farms, animal welfare is promoted with immediate and preventive measures.

  • Conditions for rearing animals
  • Safe and stimulating housing, adjusted to the various cycles in the animal’s life, is the fur animal’s most important immediate environment.

  • Farm hygiene
  • A neat and tidy farm environment promotes welfare and comfort for both the animals and the farmer. Proactive measures prevent many ensuing problems.

  • Breeding
  • Healthy and trusting animals form the basis for high-quality breeding. Certified farms do not sell or deliver fur animals to countries which do not meet the requirements set in the Finnish Animal Welfare Act.

  • Environmental management
  • A certified fur farm minimises its impact on the surrounding nature. Detailed provisions for environmental protection are specified in each farm’s environmental permit. In addition, special attention is paid to the correct handling of manure, waste management and the watering system.

  • Feed management
  • The animals are given regularly analysed feed that fulfils their nutritional needs in each production phase. Domestic raw materials are favoured in the feed production, and the entire feed chain is documented.

  • Training and preparing for exceptional situations
  • Fur farming is a profession which requires solid hands-on competence as well as ongoing professional development on an annual basis. A certified farm is well equipped to act also in exceptional situations deviating from day-to-day routines.

    Saga Certification by Finnish Standards in short

  • The Saga Certification System was developed by Finnish Fur Breeders Association
  • Criteria include advanced animal health and welfare, breeding conditions, food maintenance, farm hygiene, record keeping and environmental management. The certification has over 60 criteria, and WelFur one protocol in the criteria
  • Saga Certified farms are monitored and inspected by the Finnish government and both EU and local authorities as well as outside 3rd party auditor
  • The Saga Certification is valid for three years at a time and is then re-audited
  • ProFur is responsible for the certification of Finnish fur farms. DNV GL is the independent auditor that reviews and critically evaluates whether ProFur’s quality system and all sub-processes meet the farm certification criteria.
  • The Finnish certification criteria are set by ProFur’s Board of Directors. Saga Furs has a system in place for monitoring of which farms are certified and which ones are not.

  • Science-based WelFur Assessment

    Science-based WelFur Assessment


    The Saga Certification will incorporate Welfur protocol, which is an additional science-based animal welfare assessment. This is a welcomed addition to the Saga Certification programme that’s been running since 2005.

    At industry level, in addition to Saga Furs’ existing animal health and welfare programme, Saga Furs is cofounding the European Welfur initiative, which was launched from the beginning of year 2017. Under the new Welfur guidelines, based on scientific animal research, an annual audit process for all our supplier farms must occur at different times of the year to reflect each of the three different farm working seasons.

    Representing a consortium of 7 European universities and institutions, the scientists did an in-depth review of all existing animal welfare research on fur animals before they identified the welfare indicators and measurements that eventually became the WelFur protocols. During the development, several hundred measures were considered, and the specific welfare measurements for mink and fox were chosen by the scientists behind their project for their scientific validity, reliability and feasibility. The measurements include nutritional feeding, good conditions for rearing, behaviour of the animals, and good health.

    WelFur is science-based and transparent in measurements

    Throughout the development of WelFur, external scientific reviewers have conserved the quality of the scientific work and the alignment with the original. The scientists are producing a transparency paper explaining in details the reason for the final choices of measurements.

    The following universiteis and instituions have been developing the WelFur protocols:

  • University of Eastern Finland (Department of Biosciences)
  • MTT Agrifood Research Finland (Animal Production Research)
  • Aarhus University (Department of Animal Health and Bioscience)
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Department of Animal Environment and Health)
  • University of Utrecht (Department of Animals in Science & Society)
  • French National Institute of Agronomic Research

  • Traceability is transparency of the origin of fur

    Traceability is transparency of the origin of fur


    In addition to certification, traceability in the production chain is increasingly important. Saga Furs has created a pelt traceability programme, which enables the manufacturers to trace the origin of the pelt lots down to individual farms.

    Global consumers expect to know where their clothes are sourced, they require openness and transparency in the way they are produced and assurance on the humane treatment of animals. With traceability Saga Furs can verify the origin and location from where the skins for each lot comes from by means of chain of custody documentation.

    The Saga Furs Traceability System (STS) scheme is an integral tool in the trade to implement transparency and traceability – it’s our chain of custody documentation. All the furs we sell can include the STS documentation, and the Saga traceability programme discloses the proportion of certified farms, dates of farm certification and the countries of origin.

    Traceable and ethical fur

    Saga Furs continues commitment to sustainably and ethically sourced fur, and that is something that sets us apart. For the international fashion industry, transparency in the value chain is very important.

    When an international fashion house wants to tell its customers the origins of the furs it uses and about the responsibility of their production methods, the only way to provide this information is through precise documentation. Traceability stands for the reliability of the product’s origins; at the same time, the requirement for detailed documentation steers fur breeders towards even better and more sustainable production methods. Through its operating policy, Saga Furs steers development, for example, by refraining from selling pelts that have not been produced, at a minimum, according to the conditions stated in the revised recommendations of the Council of Europe or other national regulations.

    Traceability is another sustainability and ethical issue where Saga Furs leads the industry. Over the past years, we’ve been developing RFID tracing technology that would allow consumers at the point of purchase to scan and trace fur back through the entire supply chain. Full traceability is important for quality assurance and a logical next step in customer transparency from farm to fashion house.


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