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The most commonly asked questions that people ask us... What do alpacas eat? What kind of grass, hay, and feed should I give them?
While, most native grasses are fine for raising alpacas, there are some that will suit your needs better than others. Bermuda, Bahia, and orchard grasses seem to be the pick of most alpaca ranchers. These are some of the endophyte free grasses. Our grasses range from Bermuda and Bahia in the summer to clover and rye in the spring and fall. Some weeds are ok, as long as they are not of the poisonous nature. Be sure to look up what plants are poisonous to alpacas. Our alpacas like to eat the occasional weed and tree leaves that litter their paddocks. The alpaca's digestive system is very efficient so they don't have to eat as much as some animals. Their stomach has three compartments so they utilize their food very well.
Like typical ruminants, they like to eat a variety of foods. They love blackberry leaves and when they get in our yard they love to eat the leaves from our peach tree not to mention our peaches too!. If you would like to give your alpacas a treat you might try giving them sliced carrots, they absolutely love them!
Perennial rye grass was developed with endophytes to protect the grass from insects. The only problem is that the endophytes release a neuro-toxin that can cause staggers in grazing animals. Young alpacas seem to be more susceptible to the staggers than other animals. Try to get the endophyte free rye grass if you are planting new pastures. If you have rye grass already established in your pasture, be sure to keep a close eye out for tremors of the head, the first symptoms of staggers. As it progresses the head may begin to shake more and possibly affect their balance where they may stagger and fall. It is important to catch the staggers early while it is treatable and before the symptoms become permanent. The animal will have to be taken off the grass for awhile when they show these symptoms. Fescue is another grass that also has endophytes that may cause other problems. To be on the safe side stay away from fescue and rye grasses and use only endophyte free grasses in your pastures.
We also feed a vitamin and mineral supplement in pellet form as well as loose minerals to make their diet complete. We use Llama/Alpaca Supreme from Bluebonnet Feeds in Ardmore, Oklahoma as our primary supplement. The loose minerals we use are a multi-purpose mineral and vitamin supplement for cattle, sheep, goat, and horses. It is Super-Min 15:5 and it is also from Bluebonnet Feeds in Ardmore. We sometimes combine it with a small pellet 12% creep feed.
Please note: Always check the label on the bag of feed and make sure you do not feed your alpacas medicated feed with Ionophores such as: Rumensin, Salinomycin or Lasalosid. Alpacas are extremely sensitive to ionophores. These medications in the feed are toxic to alpacas! There have been many related deaths when accidentally fed to alpacas. Some feed labels even note that they are made at an ionophore free facility. So please check your feed labels.
For more information on alpacas take a look at some of the references we use at alpaca books.
If you have any questions on what to feed your alpacas, don't hesitate to call or email. Of course, we invite everyone to visit our ranch and ask all the questions you want. If we don't have the answer, we'll find it. Our customers get full support with all their needs in this business venture from start to finish. Put Walnut Creek Alpacas to work for your future.
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Visit Walnut Creek's Alpaca Blog to see what we're up to and for the latest news.
We're reducing our herd, many of our alpacas are being offered for sale at great prices. Visit our Alpaca Packages and Special Deals pages for more info!
Classic Peruvian Magic an 8x Champion with an elite fine fleece... read more
Need more information? Take a look at some of the references we use. There are excellent books on raising and breeding these wonderful animals
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Dave & Karen Galbraith
P.O. Box 820
Talihina, Oklahoma 74571
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