General Factors Affecting Reindeer Production
Finstad, Reindeer Research Program
I. Weight gain
Treat with Ivermectin during fall or winter months. $1/animal
Treat with Levamisole during summer ¢25/animal
gain (1yr) - nitrogen dependent - need high protein diet >
18% CP. Nitrogen retention high in summer, low in winter
weight gain - carbohydrate dependent - need high energy diet
during lactation and during "flushing" in late summer, early
1. Calcium for mature bulls estimated at 20 gm/day (during antler growth). For
lactating females estimated at 2-3 times maintenance.
2. Copper. Cervidae are susceptible to copper deficiency causing reduced immune
function and production.
3. Mineral blocks may help especially in spring and summer.
Males - antler
growth, bodyweight changes and breeding season.
in August (pre-rut)
decline though December (up to 25% of pre-rut body weight). Dry
matter intake often less than 500gm/day, severe catabolism.
for mature bulls December and January but may be later for
slows during January and weight may begin increasing in February.
Dry matter intake increasing slightly.
growth beginning in February or March.
increasing through summer with large increase in dry matter
intake. May exceed 3% bodyweight per day.
breeding and lactation.
in body weight until partuition. Dry matter intake may decline to
1.5% - 2% bodyweight per day.
loss at partuition in late April or early May (avg. calf weight
matter intake through summer but little weight gain (lactation).
the end of July.
between weaning and breeding.
intake may drop during the rut, late August, early September but
will increase after breeding.
in October. Very little decrease in body weight through winter and
may show slight increase. Steers are in relatively good body
condition during spring and early summer when females and males
are in relatively poor body condition.
II. Sex ratio
Free range. Sex
ratio should be one male for 15-20 females on most ranges. Where the
range is extremely mountainous or forested then the ratio should be
one male to 10-12 females. If all the females in the herd are 16
moths or less than the ratio should be one male to 8 females. If all
the females are 28 months or less then the ratio should be one male
to 15 females.
Fenced herd. Sex
ratio should be one male for 25 - 30 females. The ratio should be
reduced (1 to 15-20) if either the females or the males are less
than 2 years old.
excess males is an extremely important and valuable management tool!
do not go through rut, meat quality remains high where meat from
rutting and post rutting bulls is practically inedible.
challenge the herd bull increasing stress on both males and
females. Body weights of reproductive animals will decline more
with excess bulls in the herd.
body weight during the year so they may be slaughtered during times
of the year when reproductive males and females are in poor body
condition. Steers do not use up their body reserves in rut behavior
so energy (meat) is conserved.
castration drops by 10-15% further conserving energy (meat).
Behavior. Steers show greater range fidelity, they don’t wander
as much. Steers in fenced herds are much easier managed during rut
than reproductive bulls and can be left in breeding pastures
without increasing stress levels.
Steers tend to
live much longer, up to 15 years, where reproductive bulls rarely
live past 7 or eight years.
Antler growth and
casting is disrupted in castrated males but may be treated with
III. Optimum herd
structure. This recommendation for optimum herd structure was
developed by reviewing Russian and Scandinavian management
Herd Structure at Maximum Herd Size (no growth)
and yearling females 25%
5 yrs 10-15%
excess animals from each category should be slaughtered or castrated
Reindeer females demonstrate good site fidelity to
calving areas so selection of these areas by the herder is extremely
important. Good calving area characteristics:
calves do not have the hair coat or the body mass to withstand
extremely cold and inclement weather. Southern or southwestern
slopes seem to be warmer and preferred by parturient females.
cover. Lactating females need to conserve energy not expend it
digging through deep snow for forage. Also, areas with little snow
cover tend to melt out sooner, the exposed ground absorbs and
retains heat and provides camouflage cover for the newborn calf.
forage. Lactating females need a tremendous amount of energy to
produce milk. Calving areas must contain high energy forage such
as lichen, Eriophorum vaginatum flowers, and other sedges
such as Eriophorum angustifoliun or Carex aquatilus.
avoidance. The herder should maintain vigilance during calving to
protect his herd from large predators such as wolves and bears.
Selecting a calving area away from shrubby and rocky areas will
help the female reindeer observe and protect her calves from
rivers or swollen streams until the calves are larger. Smaller
calves must swim across water bodies where the larger females can
wade across. The calves are swept away and either become separated
from its mother or drowns.
Observe the calf after it is born until it can stand and nurse from
its mother. If it cannot stand or has not nursed six hours after
birth then the caretaker may have to initiate a stomach tube feeding
or give bottle feeding. After the calf has nursed;
Start a medical record and fill out a birth record sheet
Weigh the calf
Swab or dip navel with full strength betadine solution
If ear tags are going to be put on now wipe the ear with dilute
Nolvasan solution prior to using the punch