Reindeer are part of the Cervidae family particularly suited to the cold climes of the Far North, their home since the retreat of the glaciers. From Palaeolithic times, humans followed migrating reindeer for their hide for clothing and for their meat and milk for food.
Reindeer are indeed cool animals. They weigh between 180 and 600 pounds. Both sexes have antlers but males’ antlers are much bigger and more impressive that those of female reindeer. In addition, reindeer have the largest antlers relative to body size of all living deer. Reindeer bucks shed their antlers in December or January after rut, but does shed them after giving birth, through early spring.
In terms of starting and running a Reindeer farm, note that many economics are at play: supply is dwindling as demand is growing, especially at this time of year. The number of reindeer in North America has plunged 81% in a decade. The global reindeer population has fallen too as humans encroach on their lands. In the US, some farmers have ceased showing their reindeer in the face of growing regulations and disease management rules.
When looking to start this business, visit the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association website, it is a good place to learn about domestic reindeer and to locate responsible breeders who sell healthy animals. Another good resource is “Reindeer Roundup,” a 198-page bulletin published by the Reindeer Research Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
5 Smart Ways Reindeer Farms Make Money
If you’re thinking of becoming a Reindeer farmer, by all means, go for it. There are lots of opportunities out there and it can be a massively rewarding career path. However, before you rushing into anything, you must find out a little more about this option and what it might mean for you. So, here are the basic ways reindeer farms make money.
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Selling Reindeer meat
On today’s livestock farms, the slaughter season runs from early autumn to early winter. The animals are herded together, sorted and then transported to the slaughterhouse. The vast majority of reindeer meat is consumed in the countries that produce it, and only a comparatively small amount is exported to non-producing countries.
According to the University of Alaska, reindeer meat is high in protein (22 percent) and low in fat (3.5 percent) compared to lean beef (19.2 percent protein and 9.5 percent fat). A typical young reindeer yields 120 pounds of tasty meat.
Reindeer-calf operations are slightly different. Instead of focusing on the production and sale of Reindeer meat, some farms under this department raise their Reindeer and then resell them at weaning age. The buyers of these Reindeer tend to be feedlots and commercial stockyards.
It’s a niche you might want to consider. It all depends on what kind of work you want to do and how you want to make money. Both Reindeer meat farmers and Reindeer-calf operations can make money if they go about their work in the right way and maintain consistently high standards.
Selling Reindeer milk
Reindeer milk is rich in dry matter and far more calorific than cow’s milk. It has relatively low lactose content: 100 g of reindeer milk contains 15 g of fat, 9.9 g of protein and 2.5 g of lactose. In comparison, 100 g of cow’s milk contains 4 g of fat, 3.2 g of protein and 4.8 g of lactose. The high amounts of lipids and protein in reindeer milk ensure the calves grow quickly as, since the summer is very short, they must develop rapidly if they are to survive the harsh winter climate.
Selling Reindeer cheese
Finnish cuisine includes a wide variety of dairy products, most of which derive from cow’s milk. Fermented milk plays a major role and, among the many types of cheese, juustoleipä aka Leipäjuusto is undoubtedly the most typical.
This speciality from northern Finland is a ‘squeaky’ fresh cheese made from reindeer milk or from cow’s milk, preferably the beestings or colostrums produced following delivery of a calf. After having been drained, the curd is pressed and placed by the fire or in the oven to grill the top.
A lot of people assume that reindeer, just like Santa Claus, are make believe. But the antlered stars of Christmas stories such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Santa Claus movie, are real animals—that bring in real business.
Renting reindeer for an hour for, maybe, the company Christmas party more or less costs several hundreds of dollars; their day rate is several times that. Reindeer are run ragged during the holidays as an attraction to bring in customers, or as a part of a winter festival or special event.
Their novelty to adults and children alike helps their marketability. According to data from various reindeer farm websites, a pair of reindeer may rent for $200 to $300 or more an hour or for a minimum of $1,750 for an eight-hour day.
The beauty of reindeer is that handled from birth, does and castrated males are very docile. They’re easy to contain in normal small farm situations and don’t require expensive handling facilities. They’re easy to train to lead and to pull sleds.
Since the early Stone Age, humans followed migrating reindeer for their hide to make clothes, and as a source of food. Reindeer milk and products derived therefore were a major component of the Sami diet until the 20th century. However, Today’s modern livestock farming focuses on meat production.