Climate change is making both weather and seasons harder to predict. Large variations in temperature and rainfall have in recent years become more common, particularly at wintertime. When the autumnal rainfall freezes over, or when periods of mild weather are followed by minus degrees, a top layer of ice is formed on the ground, covering the plants on the grazing grounds. This icy crust makes it impossible for the reindeer to access the pasture. Other factors that may limit feed intake for the reindeer are a hard ice crust on top of the snow (skare) and very deep snow. Since winter grazing grounds are limited for each sameby (Sami reindeer-herding and economic district), the only strategy remaining to prevent starvation of the reindeer is supplementary feeding. This is carried out manually. To facilitate the supplementary feeding, reindeer are herded to a restricted area. With higher stocking density follows an increased risk of transmission of infectious diseases.
To us working in reindeer husbandry, it is necessary to possess good knowledge about how to carry out this supplementary feeding in a safe way whilst maintaining the good health status of the reindeer. We need to know how to design feeding enclosures in such a way that good hygiene and secure access to water can be guaranteed. Furthermore, we need to know how to feed the reindeer, how to protect the animals against disease, and what to do in case the reindeer fall ill or die.