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Nutrition

Water:


Proper alpaca nutrition includes an adequate supply of fresh, clean water at all times. This is the most important place to start with alpaca nutrition. Depending on the source of your water, you may want to have standing water analyzed for excessive amounts of algae and for Leptospira and other water may have nitrates, lead, selenium, arsenic, or mercury. (Caring for Llamas & Alpacas, A Health and Management Guide by Clare Hoffman, DVM and Ingrid Asmus)

What to Feed Alpacas:


Alpacas can get their nutritional and energy requirements met through:

  • grazing in pastures of grass hay
  • grains and/or pelleted feeds, and
  • a mineral supplement to provide salt, calcium, phosphorous, and selenium.

For example, you might have alpacas that live on the pasture and have free-choice pasture forage available at all times. In the winter when pastures provide little to eat, it's especially important, but all year round you might supplement with grass hay. (Alfalfa hay can provide too much protein for the alpacas' nutritional requirements and cause them to gain weight. At times of late gestation, during lactation or to help with weight gain, feeding an alfalfa hay can be a good idea.) And once each day, you would feed your alpacas a pelleted feed designed for llamas and alpacas in your area based on the nutritional content of hay grown locally. The nutritional content of the pellets complements the nutrients in the hay so that together they completely meet all the alpacas' nutritional requirements. At all times, they would have a free choice mineral supplement designed for alpacas that is available for purchase on the Internet.

Hay Analysis:


The nutritional content of hay varies depending on when it's cut during the life cycle of the grass, on other growth factors such as water and sun, on the nutrients in the earth in which its grown, and also depending on the application of various fertilizers. You can have your hay analyzed by having a core sample taken. Also, you'll want to learn by looking at the hay whether it's a good quality for your alpacas. It should be green, smell good and fairly free of seed-heads. 

You can also find out the exact nutritional content of the hay using chemical testing by taking a core sample of a bale and having it analyzed. Your local Cooperative Extension Office can help you find out where to send your core samples for a chemical analysis. Find the Cooperative Extension Office for your county here: http://http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html (These offices are staffed experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others.) 

Taking a core sample and commercial core sampling equipment:
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1098B.pdf

Here's a good write-up on visually examining your hay and also what the chemical analysis should show when it comes back:

http://www.canr.uconn.edu/ansci/ext/hayanalysis.htm

Learn More:


Please feel free to call and arrange a farm visit. We adore our alpacas and enjoy sharing them with others. We're sure that you will love them too, and we'd be happy to discuss their care requirements with you...Contact Us!


Updated July 15, 2014