Most people associate spring time with the arrival of lambs, but it is also the time of year when reindeer calves are born. At Blithbury Reindeer Farm we have everything in place for the arrival of our new young, we’re just waiting for them to arrive. It is a very busy time for the farm helping the reindeer give birth and ensuring both the mother and baby are happy and healthy following the birth.
Reindeer gestation period
The breeding season, also known as the rutting season, begins in September. During this time the males fight for the attention of the female reindeers. For male reindeer this can be very stressful, they lose their appetite and can lose up to 1/3 of body weight.
Female reindeer have a gestation period of about 200-220 days which equates to roughly 7 months. Typically, reindeer give birth to only one youth as a time, though there can be exceptions but this is quite rare.
The arrival of baby reindeer
It is usually quite clear to a farmer when the reindeer is ready to give birth because she will seclude herself from the remainder of the herd 24 hours before to be alone and undisturbed. When she goes into labour the process is normally very quick, usually she will have given birth within half an hour. If it takes longer than this, it is a warning sign that she is struggling and may need support.
At birth, a baby reindeer, called a calf, weighs between 5 and 20 lbs. It is important not to disturb the new-born for 4-6 hours after birth. This will give them enough time to bond with its mother and for the calf to receive the much-needed colostrum from her. The colostrum is essential for the calf’s development and contains the antibodies the baby requires to build an immune system. Calves are born with no immune system and live without one for the first three months of their life.
New-borns are born with plain coats with no spots or pigmentation, their markings develop as they get older.
Baby reindeer development
Within one hour of being born the calf is able to stand and follow their mother around. At one day old they are capable of reaching fast running speed – they develop very quickly indeed. Within one week they start eating solid food in addition to their mother’s milk. Calves start to be weaned when they reach 1 month old and are completely weened within six months, this is when they become fully independent.
Baby Reindeer Arriving at Blithbury Lodge
Blithbury Farm will be hosting a weekend event for members of the public to visit the new arrivals. We ask visitors to respect the reindeer at this time of the year as the babies are still very vulnerable, the male reindeer are in velvet and the mother reindeer have had a stressful couple of months. The calves are adorable, and we want to share the delight of them with others. Follow us on social media to be the first to hear the latest news from the farm.