What Do Animals Eat? Everything From Ants To Zebras

What Do Reindeer Eat?

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Reindeer have a wide and varied diet whether they are in the wild or are domesticated. While they do have food in the wild, many are turning to the reindeer farms and these tend to have a bit of a different diet than their cousins in the wild. Each turn of the season will have them eating something different in the wild. This animal can also be referred to as caribou in North America. Each diet will be broadly similar, with a few differences. The wild reindeer’s diet will be first and then followed with the domesticated version coming after that.

Reindeer (a.k.a. caribou) strollingReindeer (Rangifer tarandus). Photo by Alexandre Buisse.

Wild reindeer

In the wild, these reindeer will eat leaves, sedges and grasses, lemmings, bird eggs, moss, lichens and Arctic char. Certain reindeer will also eat mushrooms in late summer. They will also eat seeds as a part of their diet. Over 262 kinds of seeds and 62 kinds of lichen are what wild reindeer will graze on.

Reindeer and seasons

When it comes to reindeer, the different seasons will call for different feeding diet. In spring, they will need green grass and vegetation. During the end of summer and early fall, they will eat shrubs that are dry and maturing, along with lichens, mushrooms and herbs. In the later part of the fall, they will have cured and dried leaves as well as shrub leaves, lichen, sedges, dried grass and herbs. In winter, lichens make up the bulk of the diet.

Farms and reindeer

Reindeer licking salt from the roadside in British ColumbiaReindeer licking salt to get sodium in their diet, a behavior common among ruminants such as cows. Photo by Joseph N Hall.

With reindeer being raised on a farm, they usually are fed using foodstuffs that grow locally. In summer, they graze on the pastures and in winter, hay is usually needed. Alfalfa and clover pastures are best. Some of the other things that are eaten would be brome grass, barley, soybean meal and oats for example. Other things that can be eaten would be chickweed, dandelions, maple, willow, birch as well as grasses, herbs and sedge that are grown locally. Grains can also be used to help with the diet such as cracked wheat, canola meal, bone meal and cracked peas.

Diet of animals from the same family as reindeer

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