From nature’s perspective, reindeer are adapted to seasonal changes in food quality and quantity. In recent years, reindeer winter pastures has been covered by ice and large amounts of snow due to climate change. To prevent potential starvation, ensure animal welfare and survival reindeer must be supplementary fed during such periods.
In collaboration, NIBIO and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute in Tromsø have published the guide “Feeding of reindeer – and food related diseases”.
If reindeer are exposed to periods of long-term reduction in food intake or starvation, their ability to adapt and benefit from the new feed they are given is reduced. This is due to a reduced number of microorganisms in the rumen. When feeding is initiated, it is therefore important to proceed carefully so that the reindeer can gradually get used to the new feed. To prevent a situation like this, it is most important to start feeding before the reindeer start to starve.
The guide also discusses different types of feed (hay, silage, lichen and concentrates) and the properties of these. According to NIBIO researchers Svein Morten Eilertsen and Erlend Winje, it is important that the reindeer owners know how to assess the quality before buying the feed.
The new feeding guide has also been published in a Northern Sami version and has been prepared and updated based on experienced-based knowledge from reindeer owners – supplemented with research-based knowledge of reindeer digestion and their ability to utilise different types of feed. The feeding guide include a section on feeding related diseases in reindeer. In addition, there is also a section on health, safety and environment (HSE).