What do alpacas eat?

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Alpacas are browsers and grazers. Because they are ruminants, which mean they chew cud like a cow or deer, they are efficient utilizers of the available food and will do well on different kinds of low protein hay or pasture grass; approximately two pounds per 125 pounds of body weight per day. A single, 60-pound bale of hay can generally feed a group of about 20 alpacas for one day. Alfalfa is discouraged or fed only sparingly, as it has high protein content that can be unhealthy for the animals. To assure their alpacas receive the appropriate balance of vitamins and minerals, some breeders also choose to feed a pelleted food especially formulated for this purpose. Additionally, all alpacas require access to free-choice mineral supplements and plenty of clean, fresh water to drink.

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Alpacas are principally grazers but sometimes they enjoy casual browsing. In our regions they need hay in addition during the rich vegetation period.

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Primarily alpacas eat grass. Either by grazing in your pasture or by eating the hay you provide. When purchasing hay avoid timothy and alfalfa. These grasses don’t provide the right mix of nutrients for alpacas and the seed heads get stuck in their fleece. What is generally recommended is second cut orchid grass. This however may be a bit difficult to find. What you need to look for is hay that is leafy and has small diameter stems. I buy enough hay to feed 1 bale per week to each alpaca during the time when pasture is not available. In addition to hay or pasture, you will need to feed your alpacas some fortified grain. This is grain with additional vitamins and minerals added. Buy something that is specially designed for use with alpacas. We use the alpaca maintenance crumbles from Agway. This mixture was designed by Dr. Norman Evans and it has worked well for us. I am sure that other manufacturers have similar products. How much you feed depends on the weather and the breeding status

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A. Alpacas are ruminants, meaning they chew cud like a cow or deer. They survive well on different kinds of low protein hay or pasture grass, providing it has a balanced mineral content. Because alpacas evolved in harsh conditions, they digest their food more efficiently than other ruminants. The cost to feed an alpaca is very reasonable.

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They are foraging animals that need grass, or grass hay, and also pelletized supplements to balance their nutrition. Some alpacas like apples or carrots as a special treat, and clean fresh water should always be available.

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