Wednesday, April 5, 2017

First reindeer calf of 2017 born at the farm

Reindeer calf 1701 stuck close to her mother, Astrid, at the Fairbanks
 Experiment Station. UAF photo by Zayn Roohi

See a short video.

A sure sign of spring, the first reindeer calf of 2017 arrived Tuesday morning at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

Reindeer caretaker Erin Carr said the reindeer was born at 10:30 a.m., just 10 minutes after a co-worker noticed the cow was in labor.

Reindeer calf 1701 curled up in a ball near her mother, Astrid, on Wednesday morning. As visitors watched, the cow nudged her calf with a hoof to get her up to nurse. The calf wobbled to her feet for breakfast in a reindeer pen opposite the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Carr said the calf seems healthy and will be weighed this afternoon. The first calf usually arrives in early April. Altogether, about 20 calves are expected this spring. They will become part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Reindeer Research Program herd, which numbered 65 as of Tuesday morning.

Darrell Blodgett, the data manager for the program, monitors the herd by video camera from his office at the farm, to make sure deliveries are progressing well and the staff is aware of cows in labor.

As is tradition, schoolchildren are encouraged to submit names for the calves, which are named in July or August, after they are weaned. Many of the ideas seem to come from children’s movies, Carr said.

“When Harry Potter was popular, we had names like Hagrid and Hermione,” she said.

Children may submit names on the Reindeer Research Program website at Names selected last year include Hodor, Jorah, Podrick, Two Socks, Chicory, Diego and Taco Supreme.

The Reindeer Research Program is the only program devoted to reindeer research that is affiliated with a U.S. university. The program conducts research on nutrition, animal health, meat quality and range management in support of the reindeer industry.

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