Comparative Analysis of Nutrient Digestibility and Nitrogen Retention in Wild and Farmed Canids

Andrzej Gugołek 1 , Janusz Strychalski 1 , Małgorzata Konstantynowicz 1  and Cezary Zwoliński 1
  • 1 Department of Fur-bearing Animal Breeding and Game Management, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Oczapowskiego 5, 10-718 Olsztyn, Poland


The aim of this study, conducted in November 2012, was to determine whether farming of common foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) leads to changes in nutrient digestibility and nitrogen retention in comparison with their wild counterparts. Wild and farmed animals were compared within and between species. Each group consisted of five males and five females aged around eight months. Farmed silver foxes - a variety of the common red fox (group FSF) and farmed raccoon dogs (group FRD) were purchased from a breeding farm in southeastern Poland. Wild red foxes (group WRF) and wild raccoon dogs (group WRD) were trapped in the hunting grounds of the Polish Hunting Association (Olsztyn Division). The animals were placed in metabolism cages. The coefficients of nutrient and energy digestibility, and daily nitrogen balance and retention values were compared between groups. Farmed animals tended to have higher digestibility coefficients than their wild counterparts. No significant differences were noted within species. The coefficients of dry matter (P≤0.01), organic matter (P≤0.05, P≤0.05) and protein (only FSF vs. WRD - P≤0.05) digestibility were higher in foxes. Raccoon dogs were characterized by higher digestibility of carbohydrates - N-free extracts (P≤0.01). Nitrogen retention was higher in farmed animals. The highest and lowest levels of retained nitrogen were observed in groups FSF and WRD, respectively

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Ahlstrøm Ø., Skrede A. (1998). Comparative nutrient digestibility in dogs, blue foxes, minks and rats. J. Nutr., 128: 2676-2677.

  • Ahlstrøm Ø., Fuglei E., Mydland L. (2003). Comparative nutrient digestibility of arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) on Svalbald and farm-raised fox (Alopex lagopus). Comp. Bioch. Physiol. Part A., 134: 63-68.

  • AOAC (2003). Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Ed. 17, Arlington, p. 684.

  • Asikainen J., Mustonen A.M., Hyvarinrn H., Nieminen P. (2004). Seasonal physiology of wild raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). Zool. Sci., 21: 385-391.

  • Barabasz B., Łapiński S., Fortuńska D. (2011). Productive value of Finn raccoons (Nyctereutes procyonoides, Gray 1834) with confident temperament. Ann. Anim. Sci., 11: 165-170.

  • Bieguszewski H., Lorek M.O. (1986). The digestibility of nutrients and nitrogen retention in raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides Gray) (in Polish). Zesz. Nauk. ATR Bydgoszcz, Zootechnika, 140: 5-9.Faulkner W.L., Anderson D.M. (2001). The effect of fiber supplementation on diet digestibility by silver foxes. Can. J. Anim. Sci., 71: 943-947.

  • Faulkner W.L., Egan L.A., Anderson D.M. (1992). Apparent and true digestibility of dry matter, crude protein and amino acids in diets for mature silver foxes. Norw. J. Agric. Sci., Suppl., 9: 268-274.

  • Gugołek A., Zalewski D., Strychalski J., Konstantynowicz M. (2013). Food transit time, nutrient digestibility and nitrogen retention in farmed and feral American mink (Neovison vison) -acomparative analysis. J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr., 97: 1030-1035, DOI: 10.1111/ jpn.12006.

  • Jeżewska - Witkowska G., Horecka B., Jakubczak A., Kasperek K., Ślaska G., Bugno- Poniewierska M., Piórkowska M. (2012). Genetic variability of farmed and free-living populations of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Ann. Anim. Sci., 12: 501-512.

  • Kalisińska E., Lisowski P., Kosik- Bogacka D.I. (2012). Red fox Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758) as bioindicator of mercury contamination in terrestrial ecosystems of north-western Poland. Biol. Trace Elem. Res., 145: 172-180.

  • Kulawik M., Frąckowiak H., Jakubowski H. (2009). Morphometry of intestines of the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonides). Acta Sci. Pol.-Med. Vet., 8: 3-8.

  • Laut A.C. (1921). The fur trade of America. New York. USA. Macmillan Company, New York, p. 341.

  • Liu H., Li G., Zhong W., Li D., Liu F., Sun W. (2012). Supplemental dietary methionine affects the pelt quality and nutrient metabolism of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides). Asian J. Anim. Vet. Adv., 7: 61-67.

  • Lorek M.O., Gugołek A. (1993). The effect of different diets on reproductive performance of raccoon dogs. Scientifur, 3: 207-210.

  • Lorek M.O., Gugołek A., Hartman A. (2001). Studies on relationship between body weight, trunk length and pelt size in common fox (Vulpes vulpes). Czech J. Anim. Sci., 46: 481-484.

  • Nowak E. (1973). Ansiedlung und Ausbreitung des Marderhundes (Nyctereutes procyonides Gray) in Europe. Beitr Jagd. Wildforschung, VIII: 351-384.

  • Pitra C., Schwarz S., Fickel J. (2010). Going west: invasion genetics of the alien raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides in Europe. Eur. J. Wildl. Res., 56: 117-129.

  • Statham M.J., Trut L.N., Sacks B.N., Kharlamova A.V., Oskina I.N., Gulevich R.G., Johnson J.L., Temnykh S.V., Acland G.M., Kukekova A.V. (2011). On the origin of a domesticated species: identifying the parent population of Russian silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 103: 168-175.

  • Sutor A., Kauhala K., Ansorge H. (2010). Diet of raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) - a canid with an opportunistic foraging strategy. Acta Theriol., 55: 165-176.

  • Ślaska B., Zięba G., Rozempolska- Rucińska I., Jeżewska - Witkowska G., Jakubczak A. (2010). Evaluation of genetic biodiversity in farm-bred and wild raccoon dogs in Poland. Folia Biol. (Kraków), 58: 195-199.

  • Tryjanowski P., Sparks T.H., Kamieniarz R., Panek M. (2009). The relationship between hunting methods and sex, age and body weight in non-trophy animal, the red fox. Wildlife Res., 36: 106-109.

  • Vhile S.G., Skrede A., Ahlstrøm Ø., Hove K. (2005). Comparative apparent total tract digestibulity of major nutrients and amino acids in dogs (Canis familiaris), blue foxes (Alopex lagopus) and mink (Mustela vison). Anim. Sci., 81: 141-148.

  • Zhang H.H., Yue A.G., Liu F.H., Cao X.Y., Yang F.H., Li G.Y. (2012). Effect of growth performance and N-balance of growing raccoon dogs fed reduced crude protein, lysine and dl-methionine supplementation diets. J. Anim. Vet. Adv., 11: 2187-2190.


Journal + Issues