The Journal of Agricultural Science

Crops and Soils

Food intake of reindeer in winter

P. V. STOREHEIER a1c1, B. E. H. VAN OORT a1, M. A. SUNDSET a1 and S. D. MATHIESEN a2
a1 Department of Arctic Biology and Institute of Medical Biology, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
a2 Department of Arctic Veterinary Medicine, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, N-9292 Tromsø, Norway

Article author query
storeheier p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
van oort b   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sundset m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mathiesen s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Management of semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in the northern regions have historically focused on reindeer–vegetation interactions, while few data on the food intake of these animals exist. Dry matter intake (DMI) was therefore estimated successively during winter in reindeer calves fed (i) ad libitum pelleted reindeer feed (RF-80; n=6), (ii) fed ad libitum mixed lichens (n=6) and (iii) in free-ranging reindeer calves (n=3) on natural winter pasture (March/April; 69 °N). Faecal output, determined with faeces collection bags, was 24±4, 6±3 and 22±3 g DM/day/kg BM0·75 in reindeer fed RF-80, mixed lichens and on winter pasture, respectively. Actual DMI of reindeer in captivity fed RF-80 and mixed lichens was 70±10 g DM/day/kg BM0·75 and 27±8 g DM/day/kg BM0·75, respectively. The DMI of the captive reindeer calves was accurately estimated on both diets on the basis of the digestibility of their diet and their faecal output. Using the same method, the DMI of free-ranging reindeer calves on natural winter pastures in northern Norway was estimated to be 34–61 g DM/day/kg BM0·75. The present study discusses factors that influence the food intake of reindeer in winter with emphasis on the seasonal regulation of appetite and DMI in these Arctic ruminants.

(Received June 9 2003)

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