Alpacas are herbivores or browsers who mainly eat things like grass, foliage, palatable herbs and other plant life.
As herbivores, they have a split upper lip like a rabbit which helps them to easily and cleverly nibble around sharp thorns.
One thing you need to know about alpacas and what they eat is that their foods can be easily sourced from local materials in your farm.
The better fed your alpacas are, the happier they become and the richer their wool is.
This ensures that when it comes time for harvest, you get something worthwhile for all your efforts.
They are 100% herbivores and enjoy only plants and grass which forms the bulk of their naturally occurring diet.
You can also supplement their feed with roughages such as leaves, bark, stems
They can easily digest all these foods because of their three chambered stomachs just like cattles and sheep.
Related: Check out this article I wrote answering the question “where do alpacas live?”
What is an alpacas favorite food?
An alpacas favourite food is definitely grass.
As mentioned above, they are 100% herbivores and as such the one thing you should feed them daily is nutrient filled grass.
This will ensure that they are well fed, stay happy and when it is time to harvest, everybody goes home smiling.
One thing that you need to know is that because alpacas evolved in harsh conditions, they know how to use food efficiently more than other animals.
The problem is, British grasses and vegetation don’t contain the right type of nutrients to keep the animals in good condition, which is where proprietary concentrates come in, specially formulated for their welfare.
They also benefit from plant material with long fibres, like hay.
If you need to change an alpaca’s diet, do it gradually. The microbes in their gut need a couple of weeks to adjust to feed changes.
Related: Check out this article I wrote showing you “can alpacas live with goats?”
What do alpacas eat for treats?
Alpacas respond very well to treats such as carrots, apples, broccoli stalks and turnips
Just make sure they are cut into small pieces to prevent choking in the animals
Good breeders give their herd a specially formulated alpaca concentrate rich in the nutrients the creatures need for good health.
These products are specifically made for camelids like alpacas, full of essential extra vitamins and minerals.
There are several commercial alpaca mixes on the market, and it’s best to use them as a vitamin and mineral supplement on top of natural grazing.
If you have a cattle or sheep farm, then you will know that they respond very well to mineral licks.
But alpacas don’t like mineral licks – instead they prefer to drink water from a lick in a bucket.
In our experience pregnant females and mothers adore sugar beet shreds, which seem to help them produce plenty of milk for their young.
In fact all alpacas seem to enjoy sugar beet shreds.
Combined with plenty of haylage in bad weather, the resulting full tummies help them stay warm in winter.
Alpacas can easily get dehydrated, especially when it’s windy and dry, so they need a constant supply of fresh water.
In frosty weather you’ll need to break the ice regularly so they can drink freely.
Some alpacas won’t drink freezing cold water.
Adding a couple of buckets of hot water to the trough warms it up enough for them, as well as keeping it from freezing again too quickly.
What kind of grains do alpacas eat?
Alpacas enjoy eating grains such as maize, corn barley and sorghum.
These types of grains are rich in nutrients that help them grow strong and look healthy.
Another thing you want to know is that alpacas should be pasture fed at all times.
They do well on native pastures, however alpacas can be supplemented with good quality hay and/or various grains.
Like other livestock, alpacas can also be affected by perennial ryegrass toxicity, annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT) or phalaris toxicity.
Check with your vet for information on all diseases, the likelihood of occurrence and testing opportunities.
Alpacas need to have access to fresh water at all times. Each animal may drink as much as 4L/day.
What can you not feed alpacas?
One thing you want to avoid feeding alpacas is any form of grains or grain based foods such as multi nuts, horse nuts, pig nuts or bread
This is because eating any of these grains or nuts will cause ulcers in the animals and can lead to possible death.
Other potential plant toxins to alpacas include algae, Cantharidiasis (Blister Beetle Poisoning), and grain overload.
Alpacas are herbivores that enjoy eating grass, plant foliage and palatable herbs.
You want to ensure that whatever you feed the animals contains enough nutrients to make the animals happy and healthy.
A healthy animal brings about a good and bountiful harvest when the time comes.