Reindeer Herding as Profession

The profession of a reindeer herder is based on information and traditions that has been passed on from generation to another.  In their work, nature and the eight seasons of the year are always present. There is probably no other profession that has such a close connection to the nature.  Pure nature is very important for the continuity of the herding work and reindeer herding culture. Both women and men can be reindeer herders.

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The willingness of young reindeer herders to continue herding is obviously the principle element for the continuity. The good news is that there are young people interested in becoming reindeer herders. Only in the southern reindeer husbandry area, there are problems in this. It is mainly due to the problems with large carnivores that have continued for a long time.

In Finland, every fifth reindeer herder is less than 25 years old. The portion of them is bigger than the ones that could retire.

In practise, everyone from a baby to grandparent have a valuable role. Children grow into reindeer herding from early on and the elderly people participate on herding work as long as they are able to. Work is done together; everyone is taking caring of one another. Reindeer herding builds bridges between generations.

The income of a fulltime reindeer herder comes mainly from selling meat and other reindeer products. Reindeer herders are traditionally multi-skilled and active. It is common to have several different sources of income. For example, services related to travelling and selling handicrafts is offering many fulltime reindeer herder important extra income. In addition, many part time herders make their main income through other businesses related to reindeer herding such as tourism or meat processing.

The amount of the reindeer owned is a private information for every reindeer herder. It is never said out loud. When a reindeer herder is asked about this, you will always get a vague answer.