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Having a feel for Feeding

Top ten tips of alpaca nutrition, by Jane Vaughan BVSc PhD MACVSc

1. HOW MUCH TO FEED?

Alpacas will eat approximately 1.5% of their body weight as dry matter to maintain body weight (i.e. not growing, pregnant or lactating; Table 1).

Feed up to maintenance requirements with palatable, digestible roughage (leafy, green pasture, hay, silage).
E.g. 70 kg alpaca:

70 kg x 1.5% of body weight = 1.05 kg as dry matter (DM) i.e. all water removed from feed
1.1 kg DM x 100/20 = 5.3 kg lush pasture/day (grass with 20% DM content)
1.1 kg DM x 100/90 = 1.2 kg pasture hay/day (hay with 90% DM content)

Growing alpacas and late-pregnant and lactating females will eat about 2-2.5% of their body weight as dry matter. Feed up to maintenance requirements with palatable, digestible roughage (leafy, green pasture, hay, silage). Then supplement with energy/protein as required (good quality lucerne hay/oats/lupins/peas).

Table 1. Summary of feed requirements in alpacas.

Feed requirements
Av. female 60-80 kg
Av. male 70-90 kg
Maintenance
(> 2.5-3 years of age)
Growth
(crias should double birth weight by 50 days of age)
Lactation
(peak milk output 2-4 weeks postpartum)
Dry Matter Intake
(DMI % BW/d)
1.5%
(1.1-1.6%)
1.8-2% 2-2.5%
Crude Protein % 8-10% 14% < 12mo
12% > 12mo
13-15%
Crude Fibre % 25% 20-25% 20-25%
Neutral Detergent Fibre (% BW/d) 0.8-1.0% 0.6-0.8% 0.8-1.0%

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