Our Reindeer Story…
Here at Garden King, we’re passionate about animal welfare. We take great care ensuring that any animal in our centre is well looked after. This is why we decided to adopt and look after our own herd of Reindeer, so that we know they are receiving the best care possible. We’ve decided to share the story of our reindeer with you, so you can see just how much we care about them. After all, they are a member of the family!
Our story begins in Sweden…
We own a small herd of female reindeer, which any reindeer you see in our centres belong to. Our original reindeer were born in Sweden in May 2012. In Sweden, reindeer are kept in herds and are farmed for meat and fur like we keep cattle in the UK.
Our original reindeer arrived with us in February 2013 and, like the entire herd, they are kept on our family owned farm in Tamworth.
On our farm, they’re well looked after…
Our reindeer are constantly monitored, thanks to them being on our own family farm. They are on a special diet of barley straw and specific reindeer dried pellets, with the occasional treat of ‘reindeer’ moss bought in from Lapland. They also have fresh water all of the time, and their water trough is cleaned out daily.
Reindeer are not used to a rich diet, especially lush grass and we therefore introduce grazing gradually. All this leads to them getting exactly what they need from their food so that they can thrive.
We know just what to look for…
Like all animals, reindeer have particular habits and rituals that may seem strange to us. However through learning all about reindeer, we have come to know exactly what to look for when it comes to their health. If we are unsure about anything we have a specialist vet on call to help too.
When our reindeer are not at the farm, our garden centre teams look after them on a day to day basis, with checks also made by our owners to ensure that the reindeer are always happy and healthy.
Why hello there…
Our reindeer are well adapted to people, we’re always at the farm looking after them! Garden centre team members also pop up and visit the farm so that the reindeer can get used to them. After all, it’s always nice to be with your family.
Being so involved with our reindeer benefits everyone; the reindeer become friendly around people, and we get to know them and their habits.
A year in the life of a reindeer…
From around mid December to the end of February, reindeer shed their antlers. This is a completely natural process which happens every year, so don’t be alarmed if you visit them in store at Christmas and see the velvet of their antlers rubbing off. Antlers also come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s no worry there either. Within a few weeks, a new set of antlers appear and these generally get larger with age. The new antlers are covered in velvet and are soft and warm to touch. The warmth is because the antlers are full of blood at this stage. In May, the pregnant cows will give birth unaided.
During the summer months, they will moult (just like your cat or dog), and if it’s particularly warm in the winter their new coat may take a while to thicken up. At the end of the summer months, the reindeer will shed their velvet from their antlers leaving the boney antler. It’s at this time that the reindeer enter the mating (rutting) season where we have a guest bull visit us for about six weeks. Towards the end of November the reindeer are moved to the garden centres.
Check up time…
Our reindeer are on a strict programme for worming and parasites, and they also undergo frequent check ups. During these, we’ll check everything important, including their feet, coat, digestive system, heart and more. We truly care about our reindeer, they’re better looked after than the Queen!
It’s time to hit the road…
When it comes to moving our reindeer from our farm to our garden centres, we plan ahead. We typically move them when the roads are quieter, and none of our reindeer travel further than 20 miles/40 mins.
We will always move the reindeer ourselves so that we know they are being looked after, and the reindeer are never left alone until they have settled in their new home. They may seem shy at first, but that’s just because they don’t know you! They happily interact with our garden centre team members immediately, and with the public after a few hours too.
Like a home from home…
The enclosures in our garden centres are carefully assembled and checked before the reindeer even arrive to ensure that everything is correct, and ground conditions are similar to those at the farm. This makes them feel comfortable.
Our garden centre teams constantly monitor our reindeer to ensure the enclosure is well kept, and to give food and water. Just like on the farm, they have a strict diet and will eat the same as they normally do.
How you can help…
You can help maintain the comfort of our reindeer by being respectful of their enclosure, not throwing objects or food and by keeping loud noises to a minimum as no one likes an annoying neighbour! If you see anything that you think doesn’t look right, tell a member of our team who will be happy to look into it for you.
Driving home for Christmas…
Our reindeer always leave the garden centres on 23rd December. This allows us to get them back onto the farm with as little fuss as possible, and allows us to monitor them throughout the festive season when our garden centres are closed. Oh, and because they have to go and help Santa on Christmas Eve of course!
Our reindeer then remain on the farm until the following Christmas, during which time some will be bred so that we can expand our happy little family.
Want to find out more? Try these questions and answers below
No. Just like a parent wouldn’t hire their child out, we do not hire out our reindeer. We can’t guarantee their safety with other venues, so our reindeer stay strictly within the family.
Yes. Reindeer will breed naturally in the wild so we also do this too. We will only breed them with other locally kept reindeer which we can verify as being well looked after to our high standards.
We will keep any males with the mother until they reach a mature age. We will then sell male reindeer to other farms for breeding. As before, we will only deal with other farms which we can verify as looking after the herd to the same high standards that we look after our own. This breeding is necessary to stop reindeer from becoming extinct.
We only allow people we highly trust to look after our reindeer. They are kept on our family farm which has CCTV and a robust perimeter fence to keep intruders out. Our reindeer are also looked after by a few different people, including the owners of Planters themselves, to ensure that everything is as it should be.
When at the garden centres, our reindeer receive the same high quality of care as they do at the farm. We train our team members on how to look after the reindeer, and the owners pop in regularly to keep an eye on them too. Should anything happen, an on call specialist vet is only ever a phone call away.
If you still have any questions, please get in touch with us, or ask a member of our team in store. You can contact us at:
Tel: 01283 550 516