Reindeer are of the Cervidae family which means Deer
In the case of reindeer, males & females both grow antlers, solid antlers which grow from permanent bases or pedicles on the frontal bones of the skull; genus-Rangifer (reindeer and caribou), species-tarandus (reindeer). That's the technical & scientific description. Farm raised reindeer are curious, friendly, likeable animals. They are easy to fence, feed and train to pull.
Reindeer look a lot like their wild North American cousins, the caribou, but are about (8-10 inches) shorter, and there is a difference in color. Reindeer are believed by many to be the first and only domesticated deer with a written reference to herding in a 9th century letter from Norway's King Ottar to Alfred the Great which mentioned his fine herd of over 600 reindeer.
Both male and female reindeer grow antlers each year. When they are growing, the antlers are soft, rubbery, and the living mass of blood and marrow is covered with a furry skin. The antlers grow rapidly and during this period the reindeer are said to be "in velvet". The antlers are finished growing in August, harden, and the "velvet" is vigorously rubbed off. The bulls then begin to rut. They become aggressive their necks swell. They become protective of the females in the herd, and the breeding season of several months begins. The older bulls generally lose or "drop" their antlers first, usually late December or early January, with the remaining bulls following this process until as late as March. The females generally keep their antlers until calving time, 7 months from when they were bred. Then the antler growing process is repeated all over again.
Gestation is about 224 days. The calves are usually single births with that flurry of activity beginning in April. Twin births are extremely rare in reindeer. The calves are up nursing and walking very quickly, normally in less than an hour. They weigh between 8-14 pounds at birth, grow rapidly and some can easily weigh 90pounds when they are 4 months old. By then they have already grown their first set of "Rudolph" antlers.
Reindeer do not require large areas or facilities. They can thrive on commercial feeds and are now raised successfully in most parts of the USA, including, as far south as Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Procedures have been tried and proven successful in raising reindeer in these diverse areas. Feed formulas are available, and training tips can be provided by various members who exhibit reindeer.
Member of the Scottish Tartan Authority