University of Oulu

Variation in the blood chemical constituents of reindeer : significance of season, nutrition and other extrinsic and intrinsic factors

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Author: Säkkinen, Hannele1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2005
Publish Date: 2005-08-09
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on August 19th, 2005, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Heikki Hyvärinen
Docent Birgitta Åhman


Reindeer management in the Fennoscandian area is currently facing challenges such as degradation of winter pastures, which may lead in the most severely affected areas to a concurrent decline in reindeer herd productivity. The use of often expensive supplementary feeding to prevent production losses has increased the demand for studies on the physiological effects of nutritional restriction and supplementary feeding. The knowledge obtained from such studies could be used, for example, to monitor the condition of reindeer in studies assessing herd productivity levels in different pasture conditions and management systems or sustainable use of pasture resources.

In this thesis, the effects of season, year, pasture area, body mass, pregnancy and other extrinsic and intrinsic factors on the variation of blood chemical constituents of reindeer were studied in free-ranging animals under natural foraging conditions. The studied blood chemical constituents covered a wide range of parameters related to protein, carbohydrate, lipid and mineral metabolism. The same blood chemical constituents were studied in captive reindeer under defined feeding conditions, allowing an analysis of the effects of dietary protein, energy and mineral intake on the selected blood constituents and their comparison to a conventional measure of the animals' condition, live body mass.

According to the results, free-ranging reindeer showed great variation in the concentrations of blood chemical constituents compared to the reference values of domesticated ruminants. Intrinsic factors such as body mass, pregnancy and age had only a minor influence on the variation of the studied parameters, whereas extrinsic factors such as season, year and pasture area, which were characterized by marked changes in environmental and nutritional conditions, explained the majority of the variation.

The results obtained from captive animals in defined feeding conditions and from free-ranging animals foraging on natural pastures led to the conclusion that blood total proteins, albumin, urea, creatinine, urea:creatinine ratio, magnesium, inorganic phosphate and, to a lesser extent, globulins and albumin:globulin ratio responded to the changes in feed quality and availability and were the most suitable blood constituents to be used as nutritional biomarkers for reindeer.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 951-42-7773-2
ISBN Print: 951-42-7772-4
Issue: 440
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2005. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.