Hopefully, this page will provide you with some food for thought. I want to state right up front that I am neither an advocate nor a proponent for Marshall Farms (MF), and I strongly do NOT believe that anybody else opinions/beliefs regarding them should be forced on another person.
Everyone is entitled to make up their own mind and voice their own opinion without being attacked by others. I proudly own Marshall Farm ferrets and would NEVER trade my precious little fuzzies in for the world.
When the name Marshall Farms is brought up, various emotions are often voiced negatively due to their past outrageous violations concerning the welfare of the animals they breed. On the other side of the coin (which is always overlooked), over 95% pertained solely to their dog breeding antics (Beagles), with all violations being quite a few years old.
Marshall’s has since drastically cleaned up their act, though they still have some ways to go. It is irresponsible to bash a company for violations that happened some time ago and not recognize the changes/improvements they have since made.
Common Issues with Marshall Farms
Let’s take a look at some of the common issues that have been raised regarding Marshall Farms:
They control the lighting to increase the number of litters the females will produce
Yes, unfortunately, they do, and more unfortunate, so does a large majority of big breeders involving any animal. Breeders are in the business to produce litters to make money from their sales. Small private breeders generally do not fall into this category as they mate using their own ferrets and are very selective.
They spay/neuter and descent their kits at too young an age, leading to health problems as the ferret gets older
An excellent statement, but there is no proof, research, medical evidence, etc., to substantiate that claim. The number of Marshall Farms ferrets that may develop health problems like Insulinoma, adrenal, etc., may be high, but so is the number of Marshall Farms ferrets owned. When you look at the incidence rate realistically in proportion, there is really no difference among breeders.
Breeders are in the business to make money and will fix/alter their kits early to sell them while they are young and attractive to buy (matter of opinion, though). However, by performing this step, they also control the population of ferrets and the health of the female who will need human intervention to bring her out of heat or die. In general, Marshall Farms ferrets are not at the pet stores for sale until they are almost 10 weeks old, as they have to keep them longer to watch for possible kennel cough due to their breeding of dogs. I believe the majority of the blame for performing these surgeries at an early age lies with the public, as most of us do want to own a pet at a very young age.
They practice closed-colony breeding, provide inadequate vet care and poor living conditions
Marshall Farms has such an enormous selection of ferrets that any concern in genetic health problems from closed-colony breeding is undoubtedly not much of an issue.
Historically Marshall Farms has only retained one full-time vet for all of their ferrets. However, they do have a substantial number of qualified technicians to assist with health care and vaccines. This should not be that alarming, as shelter owners, breeders, farmers, experienced pet owners, etc., will tend to their own pet’s health and initiate vaccinations on their own.
However, due to the size of Marshall Farms, I firmly believe that more than one full-time vet is necessary and warranted.
The cleanliness of Marshall Farms is not the greatest, and at the same time, it is interesting to note that there are hardly any regulations/guidelines for the housing/care of ferrets to enforce. This is not just a Marshall Farms problem. It is a universal problem.
They do not ship inadequate containers with food, water, etc.
This is a false statement. Unfortunately, your pets are turned over to the airlines at a certain point, where they remain at their mercy. Interesting to note the sheer number of airlines that have been fined and brought up on charges for how they treat animals in their care. As stated above, this situation is not restricted to Marshall Farms but instead on a global basis which is an ongoing fight.
They sell their ferrets to labs for testing
Yes, they do, and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices of all animals to advance the medical field (both human and animal). Do not confuse my admiration for their loss for all testing, as this is not the case!
I vehemently oppose unnecessary toxic and cosmetic testing, there simply is no justification for this except to deliberately torture the animals, and we need to stop this now!
Thanks to their sacrifices, ferrets and other animals have provided us with treatments for cancer, AIDS, neurological diseases, rabies, distemper, smallpox, anthrax, diabetes, liver and heart disease, genetics, spiral cord injuries, strokes, organ transplants, insulin discovery, polio prevention, etc.
In addition, they have also advanced the veterinarian field in understanding their body make-up, providing us with treatment options and hope to help our ill fuzzies.
For people thinking about boycotting Marshall Farms, I would ask that you reevaluate the situation and redirect your anger where it really should be placed. It’s easy to single out Marshall Farms solely due to their size.
However, there are quite a few more issues out there. You should not turn away from buying a Marshall Farms ferret. They have done nothing wrong and do not deserve to be punished; instead, they deserve to have a good home and be taken care of. Not buying their food could be spiteful, as their food mostly has proven to be very high quality, so who will you really be hurting?
I genuinely believe in our hearts; we know the real issues are concerning education and frustration with the lack of government laws and acceptance of our fuzzies.
Our energies should really be focused on the issues where change can and does happen with our law and policymakers. This will not be an easy task! This will not happen overnight! We will not win every battle! By becoming one united voice for our ferrets, we can make changes step by step and issue by issue.
We can all do our part. We can sign petitions, talk with our local congressman and enlist their support in taking it to the next level, where we can hopefully really make a change in the welfare of all ferrets.