John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Feed

Feed, of course, is a necessary consideration for any livestock operation.  Alpacas are excellent foragers, and good converters of feed, helping to keep costs down.

Given access to decent forage, alpacas require little additional feed, at least through the growing season.

Many plant their pastures in Orchard grass if their climate allows for it.

We recommend that owners consult with their agricultural extension office before planting in order to determine the most appropriate types of forage for their area.

While many recommend against the use of Rye or Fescue grasses due to endophytes, which have been reported to cause abortions in horses, we have not experienced problems with such forages.  The endophytes tend to accumulate in the seed heads, and good pasture management will prevent grasses from going to seed. 

When the grass stops growing, it is time for hay.  Any good grass hay will do. Each alpaca may consume 1-2 pounds a day, depending on pasture.  Alpacas can  be a bit finicky if the hay has too many stems, so 2nd cut hay is usually preferred. 

Orchard grass is recommended by many alpaca owners, but can be expensive depending on one's area.  We have successfully fed Orchard, Rye, Timothy and other grass hay, and have had good luck with grass/alfalfa mixes.  Straight alfalfa is seen as to rich, and there have been some reports of to much alfalfa causing calcium imbalance in these animals.  Burmuda hay is used extensively in the Southern United States.

Free choice mineral supplements are necessary in many areas.  It is important to obtain mineral supplements specially formulated for alpacas or llamas.  Common supplements for sheep or goats may have too much copper, and copper toxicity has been reported.

Prepared feeds are used by some alpaca farms, although in our experience they are an unnecessary expense that can lead to health problems.  On the other hand, the heavy wool that alpacas carry can contribute to vitamin D deficiencies, since insufficient sunlight reaches the skin for the animal to synthesize their own.  This is particularly true in area such as the Pacific Northwest where long winter nights and cloudy days limit sun exposure even more. Prepared feeds do offer some supplementation of vitamin D.  Alternatively, vitamin D paste can be used to good effect.

 
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