Reindeer Calve Marking

Image. Marja Anttonen.

The reindeer are collected together for calve marking around midsummer. This is when the newborn calves are marked.

“In the calve markings, the calves are marked with their owners earmark.”

Gathering reindeer for calve markings is easier in the midsummer, because the blood-sucking insects make them group together. These different smaller herds are gathered together by foot or ATVs, depending on the cooperative. In the reindeer husbandry area the ways of herding differ from one another. They grow from the traditions and are adjusted to the surrounding environment. All work related to calve marking are usually done late in the evening and night, when the air is cooler. This minimises the stress caused for reindeer.

Pictures. Calve marking in Sallivaara reindeer herding cooperative 5.-6.7.2014.


When reindeer have been gathered to a fence, the unmarked calves are caught by hand or using lasso. A plastic number is hanged into their neck. They are then let free to run after their mothers. The calves find their mothers with a voice they make and vice versa. When they have all found each other, the fence area goes quiet again. After this, herders start to slowly walk around the fence and write down, which female each calve follows. The notes are compared and checked together. When all the owners are found, the calves are caught again and marked with their owner’s earmark. In some cooperatives, the herders catch the calves themselves and mark them.

After markings, reindeer are let back to the summer pasture areas.

The calve markings lasts around 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather. During this time, the aim is to catch most of the reindeer to a fence. Calve marking is not done in all cooperatives. Then the calves are marked either in the home fence where they are born or during the autumn round ups.