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Mountain Jewel Farm

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Feeding your alpacas

Good pasture management is key.

Alpacas require a daily nutritional diet of forage and supplements.  How much per alpaca?  The answer to this question is multifaceted.

Generally stated, alpacas are foragers which means they need to have access to either good pasture or quality forage at all times to keep their digestive system intact.  You'll see many different recommendations for how many alpacas can subsist per acre.  In the past we've seen farms recommend up to 10 alpacas per acre.  We've found through our observation of farms who practice this is that over the years, they have the extra expense of purchasing large amounts of hay.  Also alpacas love to roam and explore, and are unable to do so on limited acreage.  We recommend no more than 5 alpacas per acre, and a minimum of 2 acres of pasture for an alpaca farm in order to provide the best environment for them.  Our farm generally runs around 3 alpacas per acre. Once your pasture is over grazed, it's difficult to get it back.

We also supplement them with vitamins, minerals and protein in the form of specially formulated pellets for alpacas.  Depending on their nutritional/energy needs, ie: are they pregnant, nursing, or youngsters who are still growing?  Or are they non-producing adults with healthy body scores?  You'll find feeding recommendations on any quality feed formulated for alpacas, you will also want to ask your alpaca veterinarian for his/her recommendations.

Oregon State University can provide you with helpful information when it comes to planning and managing your pastures.  Pasture Management

While there are many formulations available, we use a well tolerated high quality feed made just for alpacas made locally in our county.  Providing quality feed can pay off in many ways including keeping them and their fiber healthy and strong.

Alpaca Supplements

Keeping your alpacas healthy begins with providing adequate nutrition for them.  Most farms will do frequent body scores on their alpacas to assess their nutritional health.

There are many reasons an alpaca may not be meeting it's nutritional needs, such as age, dental problems, owner feeding management problems, pregnancy, parturition, etc. 

We find it important to watch the alpacas eat, each and every one of them, on a daily basis.  Often the first sign of trouble, is when they refuse their food. There tends to be a hierarchy of alpacas, some always first in the feeding line, pushing the more timid alpacas, or those with dental issues who take longer to eat away from their feed.  As an alpaca owner, you must be sure they are all getting their fair share by having plenty of feeding/hay areas spread out for easy access to all. If there are alpacas in the herd with low body scores or dental problems, they'll require a separate space for eating their supplements. See below, an excellent resource for body scoring and general health assessments.

Keeping your alpaca healthy

Orchard Grass
Orchard Grass Hay

We use a quality orchard grass hay fed free choice for our alpacas.  It is easy for them to chew and digest the flat tender leaves, and provides an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrate, and minerals for them when pasture is limited due to time of year, when covered with snow, or due to heavy rain or hot sun that drives them to the barn for shelter.

Updated May 11, 2014

Bonnie loves the tall green grass

Bonnie loves the tall green grass