5 Domesticated Animals That Were Not Present In Ancient America What Do Alpacas Eat?

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What Do Alpacas Eat?

Eighty percent (80%) of alpacas and llamas’ diets should be quality pasture grass and/or hay. Alpacas and llamas’ diets vary by region in North America, depending on pasture grasses, available supplements, and breeder preferences. The remaining twenty percent (20%) of the diet should be supplemental pellets, minerals and probiotics.

Camelid stomach

Alpacas and llamas have three stomachs. The first stomach is a “big fermentation tank” for all the hay and grass they eat. The second and third stomachs extract the nutrients from the food intake. So to keep your alpacas and llamas healthy, you need to keep the first stomach, the heart of fermentation, in good, stable and functional condition.

Pasture Grass and Hay

Your hay or pasture grass should be about twelve percent (12%) protein. You can contact your county agricultural extension office for information on how and where to test your pasture grass. Typically, a bar or bar analysis will cost about US$15 to US$20. If you are buying hay, get “horse quality” hay. You will need about one 70lb square bale per animal per week, plus ten percent (10%) hay for contingencies. For example, if several females come to your farm for breeding. If you need to feed hay to 6 grown alpacas for 16 weeks, you would buy (6*16) = 96 plus 0.10 * 96 = 9.6, or 106 bales.

The grass you buy should not be moldy. Do not let the hay spreader unload hay from his truck until you’ve done a “smell test” on a few bales. It should have a sweet grass smell. If it smells musty, it’s musty. So don’t buy weed.

Regular meal times

It doesn’t matter what time of day you feed your alpaca supplemental pellets, as long as you feed them at a regular time each day. This helps to keep their first stomach in good working order.

The alpaca stomach generates a lot of heat. So you can change the feeding schedule to best suit the season of the year. For example, if you live in a very hot summer climate, you can feed them in the evening, rather than during the day, to avoid generating unnecessary body heat during the hot afternoon.

Supplemental pellet feeding

Many alpaca owners are feeding very much supplemental pellet. This is a relationship between the amount of alpaca feed and the production of fine or coarse fiber. Filled with alpaca and produces thick fibers! While we don’t want to starve our animals to produce fine fiber, the goal is to feed them efficiently afterwards.

There are various brands of quality alpaca pellets, which usually come in 40- to 50-pound bags. A pellet with about fifteen percent (15%) protein is recommended. Each bag has a bottom label that gives the nutritional values, the amount of pellets for males, non-pregnant females, pregnant and lactating females and crias (babies). Typically, pregnant and lactating females should take 1 lb of pellets per day. Males and non-pregnant females should receive 1/2 lb per day, and crias should receive 1/4 to 1/3 lb of pellets per day.

In the winter, when there is no pasture grass and the alpacas are eating hay, I increase the daily pellet amount by about fifteen percent. In the summer in my area (East Texas), I cut back on the daily pellets because the animals have access to an abundance of pasture grass. Moreover, it is so hot that the animals do not go into the hot sun to eat. Instead, they sit in front of fans all day. So they don’t move much, and therefore don’t burn as many calories. They need less food in the summer.

Alfalfa

I also mix alfalfa with my pellets for certain animals, at certain times. However, you should be careful with excess alfalfa. Too much alfalfa interferes with the balance of calcium and potassium available in an animal’s system. I usually feed 5 parts pellets to 1 part alfalfa to my pregnant females. Men take alfalfa only in winter.

Other supplements

Other nutritional supplements include minerals and probiotics. Alpacas and llamas need selenium and other minerals that are not available in some North American soils. Minerals come in the form of loose grains and as compressed blocks. I have found that mineral blocks are significantly less expensive than loose grains. When you buy ore block, do not buy salt blocks. You probably won’t find mineral blocks that are made specifically for alpacas and llamas. So buy horse or goat mineral blocks.

Probiotics are another important nutritional supplement. Probiotics have microorganisms that help the alpaca’s first stomach break down the tough cellulose in hay and grass. There are two categories of probiotics: those based on lactobacillus and those based on beer years. Both are excellent. If you see an alpaca having diarrhea, probiotics help get his digestive system back to normal. You can sprinkle about a teaspoon of probiotics on the pellets daily for several days. I always offer probiotics to my alpacas and llamas after administering oral dewormers.

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