Reindeer welfare

In the Reindeer Park area, the number of reindeer varies depending on the year, with approximately 60 reindeer. There are slightly over 30 trained driving reindeer, a little more than ten breeding reindeer, and the rest are young reindeer, calves, castrated males, and yearlings.

The Reindeer Park area covers a total of 200 hectares and is fenced. For over half of the year, from the beginning of May until mid-November, our reindeer are allowed to lead a natural life in this area, wandering freely. The area features various types of nature, including old pine forests, damp spruce forests, heath forests, stream banks, marshes, and a lush pond.

During the summer, the reindeer find natural food in the area abundantly and diversely, but we still supplement their diet during the summer to ensure they are in good condition when winter arrives. We visit the reindeer daily and monitor their health.

Calving takes place in the park area just as it does in the wild. The breeding females take care of this on their own and often keep their calves “hidden” for a few days before showing them. Likewise, the autumn rutting season is managed by them independently. Since the Park is a closed area, rutting bulls, also known as “polkija,” always come from outside the park, and the reindeer born here never get to continue their lineage.

When the snow falls and winter approaches, we move the reindeer into smaller enclosures. The trained draft reindeer, including the experienced sled reindeer and sled reindeer trainees, are placed in the enclosure next to the main building, while the breeding females and calves are taken to a separate enclosure.

At this stage, the draft reindeer are harnessed, which means they are fitted with leather collars. At the same time, all the reindeer are vaccinated.

During the winter, the reindeer are fed in the enclosures twice a day: in the morning, they are offered lichen and reindeer feed, and in the evening, they receive dry hay and feed. Throughout the day, the reindeer also get to eat twigs and branches. Naturally, in the spring, the reindeer also enjoy the lichen growing on the branches of trees, which we collect from the forest.

In the winter, the reindeer primarily obtain their water from clean snow. Due to the size of the enclosures, there is always clean snow available for the reindeer. Additionally, there is a spring in the draft reindeer enclosure that provides clear water throughout the winter.

The training of sled reindeer begins when they are still calves. The first stage involves teaching them to walk with a rope. Gradually increasing the level of difficulty, the reindeer are eventually trained to pull a sled. Training a reindeer to become a fully-fledged sled reindeer usually takes from two to three years.

Each reindeer has its own named harness, adjusted to the reindeer’s measurements. During trips, the reindeer also have a specific order in the line or team, ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

We also maintain a logbook for the sled reindeer to keep track of how many trips each one takes. This way, we can ensure that they all get the necessary days off and rest.