Alpacas need amazingly little to survive. On their native ranges in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, they only have access to lush grasses during the rainy season. The rest of the year, they subsist on sparse vegetation only.
In pastures with an adequate cover of natural, non-fertilized grasses, alpacas will graze contentedly and usually thrive. A mix of 4-6 grasses in a pasture is ideal to create a varied foraging environment. Typically used grasses include:
- Endophyte free Fescue
- Winter Wheat
- Sudan Grass
- Bahia Grass
Typically a two-week rotation schedule (depending on region) is enough to allow grass to replenish itself. Supplement natural grasses with a low-protein grass hay.
On a daily basis, alpacas eat 1.5% to 2% of their body weight by volume, so a 68 kg alpaca would need to consume roughly 1.4 kg. About 60% of that intake should be from grazing.
The remaining 40% of the diet should come from commercially prepared alpaca feed. This ensures that the animals get vitamins and minerals, like selenium, that can’t always be obtained from grass and hay alone.
Although there are many options, an exemplar feed is Mazuri Alpaca & Llama Maintenance Diet, which, according to the packaging, is ”designed to maintain adult alpacas & llamas in good condition. This product is not designed for growing, gestating or lactating animals or for fibre animals. It’s designed to complement grass or legume hay/pasture.”
The suggested feeding directions on the product are, ”To be fed with free-choice alfalfa or grass hay or pasture. In order to meet NRC recommendations for new world camelids, animals being fed hay should consume this product at a rate of 0.22kg pellet per 45 kg of body weight (BW).
Provide your alpacas with a source of clean, fresh water near their shelter at all times. Although these animals do not consume large amounts of water, they will refuse to drink altogether if their water is dirty or stale.