Fox Farming News Ridgetown

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Before 1912 Mr. Sin Coll was a Barber in Ridgetown. Fox farming was in its infancy in this Province but he was one of the first to see possibilities in its industry. He bought 10 acres of land about 2 miles south of Ridgetown on Highway 21. Built a lovely bungalow with roses almost surrounding it - beautiful when in bloom.

He procured several pair for breeding stock from Prince Edward Island, Canada, paying $11,000 for a pair for good breeding stock. The color was a glistening blue black with a sprinkling of silver hairs, the blue black hairs are ringed with a tiny silver band which is impossible of imitation.

In order to register a fox, Mr. Coll had to prove its black fox descent for 6 generations: no trace of red or crossed fox - pure breeds had a white tipped tail. His strain has been used for stocking Ontario Government pens at Riskfield. Mr. Coll was nominated President of Ontario Provincial Silver Fox's Breeders Association in 1930.

When he first started, pelts sold for $35.00 to $125.00, but in 1926 the best pelts at New York auctioned at $500 each pelt; the average brought $200.00; yearly gross return for 1 pair - $400. In 1930 the price of a pair of foxes, which would classify in this $200.00 pelt class is $800.00.

In 14 years he had 90 breeders male and female and 82 pups getting prizes at the Toronto Winter Fair. Some times Mr. Coll's tabby cat raised a high as 11 baby foxes at one time as foster mother, when a femaie fox gave birth to a littler too large to nourish herself. Mr. Coll conceived the idea of letting their cat see the mother, replacing kittens with fox puppies which was a credit to her as they are the tamest and most domesticated foxes on his ranch.

In 1922 Mr. Coll's ranch was pronounced by competent judges the best in Dominion of Canada.

Sanitation and feed is very important to raise healthy foxes. Pups after weaning get sweet whole milk and raw eggs along with a cereal mixture but they are not fully developed until 1-1/2 years old. Pens cleaned every morning. Shade for pens in summer for the kennels, he had peach trees. Each pen floored with wire netting, covered with 4" of earth, pens being 24 feet, fenced 7 foot high with wire netting. Entire ranch of pens supplied with hydro like the street of a town. An average cost of feeding a fox is $50 a year, while only a few dollars cover other expenses.

Mr. Coll's great fondness of his foxes, as they would come running to him by calling their names, and at his suggestion would jump up on his knee. One handsome young fox was asked to give him a kiss which she did in a very affectionate style. Litters of pups varied from one or two up to a record of about ten, on the average there is a 100 per cent increase each year; that is 2 puppies for each pair of foxes. Always an abundance of fresh water.

Mr. Coll had found his occupation not only profitable but attractive. He took great pleasure out of his work, and one of his greatest assets has no doubt been his love for the creatures he breeds. It goes to show what can be done by kindness when these most suspicious of animals are so thoroughly won over. A puppy is grown up at 8 or 9 months as large as their mothers. His foxes were mostly all sold for breeding stock.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.