What is Reindeer Husbandry?

What is a wild reindeer?

Reindeer are wild or semi-domesticated. The total reindeer number in world is about 5 million and of those are about 3 million wild. Wild reindeer are found in Russia, the USA, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Finland.

How long do reindeer live?

Female reindeers can be 18 years old but they usually live a little over 10 years. Non castrated male reindeer do not live as long as female reindeers, usually living about 10 years. Castrated male reindeer can live as long as female reindeer.

What do reindeers eat?

Reindeers adapt their eating to the grazing access. Studies show that reindeer eat over 200 different kinds of plant species. If a reindeer can select, it prefers to eat the newest parts of a plant because it can absorb the elements better as they do not contain plant fibres. Reindeer is a ruminant and has a special ability to absorb lichens. In winter, lichens are the main diet but also hanging lichens and other plants under the snow. In winter lichen can constitute approximately 40-90% of a reindeer’s diet. In the summer reindeer graze on herbs and leaves and in autumn fungi is an important source of nourishment.

If winter pastures are limited because of, for example, icing on the ground, some feed their reindeer with artificial feed, hay or imported lichen in limited periods. Reindeer are the only semi domesticated animal which usually grazes free during the whole year. Reindeer migrate between different seasonal pastures. Some pastures are better suited for summer grazing, while others are better suited to winter and/ or autumn. The pattern is the same from year to year.

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