A year of a Reindeer − Light and Darkness

The reindeer husbandry area covers the whole of Northern Finland from Kainuu to the northernmost mountains in Lapland. The natural conditions vary a lot as this area is very broad – in the southern part summer is on its way when there is still a meter of snow and lakes frozen in the North.

Summer and autumn are a time for reindeer to grow. Eating the various green plants and mushrooms, reindeer gains weight over the summer and collects fat to its body for the winter. In addition, the fur renews itself and both female and male get new antlers. The summer is more tiring for female that suckle calves. Their weight can go down solely because of the energy consumption due to milk production.

In the North, reindeer is the only ruminant that can cope through the winter in the woodless tundra areas. Reindeer finds appropriate foods both in the summer and harsh winter conditions. The nutrition and digestion differs clearly between these two seasons.

There are lots of easily digestible carbohydrates in lichens

In the winter, reindeer digs food under the thick layers of snow. Using lichen to survive the winter is not very common in the animal world. Hence, there is not much competition over the food. Reindeer changes lichen and green plants into high quality meat, leather and bone products. It also keeps the northern Lapland inhabited.

The life of a reindeer starts in the spring, around May- June. The old proverb “Calve in the snow in First of May” means that the calving season starts around that time. It may continue long till the end of June.