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Want to spread old knowledge about reindeer slaughter

Published: 20 May 2020

In a new project within Interreg Sápmi, an innovative education is being developed to make small businesses in the reindeer industry more competitive and attractive.

Personnel supply is a bottleneck in raindeer slaughter and cutting for local slaughterhouses, but also for local processing and development in food, craft, catering and much more, according to a feasibility study by Sápmi Innovation AB. The slaughter industry is in need of renewal and more staff. One of the basic prerequisites for this is an innovative vocational training for staff and entrepreneurs, says Sápmi Innovation AB. Now researchers from Luleå University of Technology together with Sápmi Innovation AB and Lapin ammattikorkeakoulu Oy will develop such training.

Education that gives a quality stamp

The aim of the project is to complete a course package for raindeer slaughter, slaughter techniques and cutting in accordance with current regulations and high requirements for animal ethics, cutting technology and hygiene. Completed training should lead to a quality validation for SMEs, which in turn should make them more competitive.

– The idea is that the education that we will develop should be a quality stamp to show that, for example, you know the rules for animal welfare and know how to make best use of the reindeer body. The slaughterhouses scream for knowledgeable staff. There’s a demand for raindeer products that could be even bigger if there were more people who had knowledge about the work. In sparsely populated areas, people often need several strings on their lyre. For example, you can have a seasonal job during the autumn in reindeer slaughter and cutting and then you work with something else during the rest of the year, says Maria Udén, Professor of Industrial Design at Luleå University of Technology, who is one of the researchers in the project.

Use of more of the reindeer

The training should also give small businesses the opportunity to offer new services related to the reindeer industry by, for example, taking advantage of more of the reindeer.

– In modern times, people have wanted to be as efficient as possible when slaughtering reindeers. You do what goes fast. Knowledge about how to take advantage of the whole reindeer is still present, especially among older people, but will disappear if we don’t make use of it, says Maria Udén.

Conserve resources

– Also, intestines are attractive foods if taken care of properly. Traditionally, it has been done, but not in Sweden today. Everything really has value, says Maria Udén.

– It's about taking advantage of what nature produces. The reindeer industry is an exceptionally clear example of the fact that we must conserve our resources, as reindeer belong to us in the northernmost parts of the world. You can't move the reindeer, they have to live in cold climate. In cold climate you can’t have as large herds of reindeers as the food doesn’t grow fast enough. We have a long and cold winter and the food is growing slowly. We can’t mass produce everything regardless of the time of year, we have to adapt to the seasons. We simply have to be able to make use of what we have, says Maria Udén.

Old knowledge and new technology

But conditions change over time and you can't go back to how you did 100 years ago, explains Maria Udén.

– The thing is to combine old knowledge with new technology and new knowledge to create methods that fit today. The Finnish project partners have already worked on digital solutions to learn slaughter.

From Luleå University of Technology, Jörgen Normark, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design, also participates.