The Sami have practiced traditional reindeer herding since the 17th century. Reindeer herding is more than just a job - it a way of life. Time is measured in the passing of the seasons and home is where the lavvu is set up on the migration trails. 

The reindeer have been a valuable resource for the Sami. In traditional herding reindeer were used for food, clothing, trade (reindeer as a form of money), and for labour. Even before reindeer herding began the Sami lived on wild reindeer. 

Before the 17th century the Sami were able to live on wild reindeer for clothing and meat. They would have a few tame reindeer as draft animals. The Sami's needs were simple and they only took what they needed from nature. They would complete their diet with hunting of birds and fish and with gathering of berries during the summer. We were a small group and they had a very minimal impact on the environment. 

We would like our traditions to live on through the ages and in every part of the world where our reindeer roam. We are very happy that the British Reindeer Herders Association would like to follow our guidelines on the husbandry and management of reindeer in the United Kingdom. 

A good reindeer herder has many skills and understands his reindeer. Reindeer are not just Santa's sleigh pullers. 

First and foremost, the reindeer herder must know his or her herd, which comes from close observation throughout the year. The herder must know the behaviour and movement of the herd and understand how wind, geography, and climate will effect the herd's behaviour and movement. 

The herder has a role both in the actual herding but also in husbandry. Husbandry deals with the welfare of the herd. The herder must decide how many castrates he should have, which animals will become draft animals, which animals are marked for the children and the overall size of the herd he/she can have on the land. The herd needs to be in proportion to the grazing land that is available. 

We are happy to advise and guide the members of British Reindeer Herders Association and maintain links throughout. The welfare of these wonderful animals is more than just a passing fancy. Ownership of reindeer is a privilege. We will help the British Reindeer Herders Association to teach you about the reindeer and the age old traditions of the Sami Reindeer Herders which respects nature and the environment we live in. 

Sara Uule-Niiles

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