How Much Does a Reindeer Cost?

Last Updated on March 5, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

With their majestic antlers and furry coats, reindeer capture the imagination of many as a unique and exotic pet. But before deciding to buy and care for one of these animals, it’s important to understand the costs involved.

This article will break down the price of purchasing a reindeer as well as the expenses for proper housing, feeding, and medical care. We’ll also look at legal and ethical factors to weigh when considering reindeer ownership.

How Much Does a Reindeer Cost?

The average cost of a live reindeer typically ranges between $5,000 and $20,000. Factors like age, genetics, and purpose play a role. Here are some more details:

  • Reindeer calves cost $3,000 to $5,000 on the lower end.
  • Baby reindeer may run $4,000 to $8,000.
  • For a mature, healthy reindeer, plan on spending $8,000 to $12,000 or more.
  • Specially bred reindeer can cost $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Trophy reindeer with prized antlers can sell for $15,000+.

According to Shortsville Reindeer Farm, for example, most reindeer probably cost between $10,000 and $20,000 dollars, depending on the age and sex of the deer. The cost of trimming their toes from time to time is also mentioned.

ReindeerOwners.com provides a Buy/Sell section for members of the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association. The member rate for buying and selling reindeer is $60 per year, while the non-member rate is $120 per year. The website also provides contact information for potential buyers and sellers.

Always work with reputable reindeer breeders and farms when buying and be wary of unscrupulous dealers with reindeer of questionable health or origin.

Factors Impacting the Cost of a Reindeer

Like any animal purchase, several factors influence the price when you want to purchase reindeer. These include:

  • Age – A reindeer calf or yearling costs less than a mature adult reindeer. Calves can start around $3,000 while adult reindeer sales are between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • Breed – There are different breeds of reindeer with some more rare than others. Unique color variations or bloodlines can increase cost.
  • Geography – Availability in certain regions impacts price. Importing a reindeer increases costs more than buying locally.
  • Health and fitness – A robust, healthy reindeer from a reputable breeder or farm will fetch a higher price.
  • Training – A reindeer trained for riding, pulling sleds, etc. has more handling value reflected in its price.
  • Purpose – Reindeer sold as pets or for meat have different price points than those used for breeding stock.

Reindeer Farming and Breeding Expenses

If interested in breeding and raising reindeer yourself, consider these farming and breeding costs:

  • Land – Need large acreage for grazing, ideally 50+ acres per animal. Land leasing or purchase is a major investment.
  • Shelter – A sturdy barn or shelter is required, costing $5,000+ to build. Ongoing maintenance is needed too.
  • Feed – Plan on $1,000+ annually for supplemental feed along with access to natural grazing.
  • Supplies – Fencing, leads, halters, transportation trailer, grooming tools, etc. add up.
  • Labor – Managing a herd requires consistent daily work and labor costs.
  • Veterinary Care – Annual exams, vaccines, and illness treatment average $500 per reindeer.
  • Breeding – A bull reindeer for breeding may cost $10,000+. Breeding programs have more expenses too.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Before buying a reindeer, be sure to research:

  • Permits – Most states and municipalities require special exotic animal permits to own reindeer. Permit fees vary.
  • Zoning laws – Many areas prohibit owning reindeer. Check your local ordinances.
  • Inspections – Routines inspections by authorities may be mandated for reindeer facilities.
  • Ethics – Consider if owning a reindeer aligns with practices for humane and ethical treatment of animals.

Reindeer can make challenging pets, so evaluate if you can properly care for one. Always choose humane reindeer breeders.

Costs of Reindeer Care and Maintenance

Old ReindeerCaring for a reindeer also involves significant expenses for daily upkeep:

  • Food – Reindeer require specialized diets high in forage. Feed costs can exceed $1,000 annually.
  • Housing – A large sturdy shelter is ideal, with access to an outdoor pen or pasture.
  • Grooming – Hooves and antlers must be regularly trimmed. Tools and vet fees apply.
  • Veterinary – Annual exams, vaccines, and tests cost $500+. Any injuries or illnesses add more.
  • Enrichment – Providing a stimulating environment with room to roam is vital for reindeer welfare.
  • Transportation – A trailer for transporting the reindeer safely is recommended, starting at around $2,500.
  • Insurance – Optional policies help cover veterinary bills, with premiums of $500 or more per year.

Proper reindeer care requires substantial time and money. If costs become excessive, a good home at a sanctuary may be best for the animal.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a Christmas tree, Christmas presents, or Christmas house decorations.

Potential Revenue from Owning Reindeer

For commercial reindeer owners, the animals can provide various revenue streams:

  • Meat – Selling reindeer meat and antlers to restaurants or retailers.
  • Tourism – Offering reindeer experiences like sleigh rides and petting zoo visits.
  • Breeding – Selling reindeer for breeding stock.
  • Products – Developing goods made from reindeer antlers, hides, etc.
  • Racing – Entering racing events like the World Reindeer Racing Championships.
  • Media – Renting out reindeer for commercials, movies, events, etc.

However, consistent profit from reindeer takes major investment and risk. Have a solid business plan when exploring money-making ventures.

Challenges and Responsibilities of Reindeer Ownership

Here are key challenges and responsibilities when owning reindeer:

  • Time commitment – Reindeer require daily feedings, grooming, pen cleaning, and monitoring.
  • Housing – Taking diligent care of reindeer facilities and repairing damage.
  • Training – Dedicated training is needed for handled, docile reindeer behavior.
  • Socialization – Reindeer are herd animals and need companionship of their own kind.
  • Handling – Being experienced with reindeer handling to avoid injury to animals or humans.
  • Regulations – Strictly adhering to all permits, laws, and zoning for reindeer ownership.
  • Health issues – Monitoring for illness, injury; having vet access. Hoof trimming is imperative.
  • Predators – Protecting reindeer from predators like coyotes, bears, and wolves.

Reindeer demand substantial expertise and diligent care from owners. Take this responsibility seriously.

Reindeer Welfare and Conservation

Lastly, always make reindeer welfare and conservation a priority:

  • Provide ample space to roam, proper social structure, enrichment activities, and balanced diet.
  • Have housing, fencing, and handling practices that limit stress on reindeer.
  • Administer vaccines and medications as needed under a veterinarian’s care.
  • Carefully manage grazing land to avoid overgrazing.
  • Prevent reindeer from disrupting or displacing native wild herds.
  • Follow BMPs (best management practices) for humane reindeer stewardship.
  • Support reindeer conservation in the wild along with ethical breeding practices.

Exotic reindeer require extra diligence by owners to uphold excellent standards of animal welfare.

Conclusion on Purchasing a Reindeer

The purchase price of a reindeer is just the initial outlay. Expect to spend thousands more annually on proper housing, feeding, healthcare, training, and overall responsible care of reindeer.

There are also legal restrictions and ethical obligations to manage reindeer correctly. While reindeer can be exciting animals, they make challenging pets suited only for experts with resources and dedication to reindeer welfare. Carefully consider if owning reindeer is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have a reindeer as a pet?

Reindeer ownership is legal in some states but banned in others. Where allowed, special permits are usually required along with ample land and facilities.

While reindeer can potentially be kept as pets, they have specialized needs as herd animals. Reindeer are high-maintenance exotic animals that demand substantial expertise and investment from owners. They aren’t recommended pets for casual owners.

Is a reindeer rare?

Reindeer are not rare overall as a species, with large wild populations in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Russia. However, specific breeds of reindeer raised for domestic purposes may be rarer and more expensive.

Reindeer owners often selectively breed for desirable antler sizes, colors, temperament or other traits that fetch higher prices for buyers seeking specialty reindeer.

So the rarity of a reindeer depends greatly on the specific breed and bloodline. Everyday “generic” reindeer are common, but selectively bred reindeer with certain coveted characteristics can indeed be quite rare.

Are reindeer easy to keep?

No, reindeer are not easy animals to keep and require substantial expertise from owners. As herd animals, they have demanding social and housing needs.

Reindeer are prone to stress and need large grazing areas, proper nutrition, attentive veterinary care, and protection from predators and injury. Their hooves and antlers require diligent maintenance.

Owners must invest significant time and resources into properly caring for reindeer. Permitting and regulations around reindeer also complicate matters. Handling large reindeer takes skill and experience.

Overall, reindeer are challenging exotic animals that shouldn’t be underestimated. Casual owners will likely struggle to meet their complex needs. Reindeer are really only suitable pets for dedicated experts with the knowledge, facilities, and financial means to humanely care for them.

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