Submitted to: Artic Ungulate Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 24, 2003
Publication Date: N/A
The lack of a regionally produced diet and the high cost of shipping feed to Alaska have prohibited the development of an intensively managed reindeer industry. A diet developed from locally grown barley (80%), chopped brome hay, Bromus intermis (10%), and fishmeal (3%) was fed to a reindeer herd at the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Production of animals fed this diet was determined. Average birth weights were 6.53 ± 0.17 kg for females and 6.83 ± 0.21 kg for males and growth rates were 0.34 ± 0.01 kg/day for females and 0.33 ± 0.01 kg/day for males. Maximum female bodyweights from six months to 5.5 years were 62.85 ± 1.57 kg, 93.73 ± 1.52 kg, 106.89 ± 2.61 kg, 108.38 ± 3.08 kg, 115.85 ± 3.31 kg, and 114.73 ± 2.46 kg, respectively. Nutrient and fiber concentrations, digestibility, palatability, dry matter intake (DMI) and animal performance of diets using barley varieties, Thual, Finaska and Albright were evaluated for cost effectiveness while maintaining adequate animal performance. During winter, reindeer fed a Finaska-based diet maintained a higher winter weight than on a Thual-based diet (p= 0.000), but there was no difference in DMI (p= 0.297). During summer, reindeer demonstrated greater DMI on the Finaska-based diet than on the Thual-based diet (p= 0.000). Reindeer typically show a strong seasonal variation in nutritional requirements where maximum productivity can be achieved by the addition of rumen undegradable protein (RUP) or escape protein. Alaska's fish processing industry produces 2.3 billion pounds of fishmeal each year from pollock, cod, and salmon, which have RUP properties. Utilizing this locally available protein in reindeer diets may have significant effects on animal performance while reducing the risk of transmissible animal product diseases. Whitefish meal, salmon meal, and soybean meal based diets were tested for preference, animal performance, DMI, nutritional characteristics and digestibility. In winter, the reindeer preferred diets containing salmon meal (p= 0.025) and soybean meal (p= 0.000) to whitefish meal. The same group showed greater DMI for the diet containing whitefish meal during the summer (p= 0.000).