Alpaca Nutrition News
The question of grain (cont.)
Last month's newsletter, which discussed
feeding minerals separately from grain, caused a stir. Some producers do not
believe that grain is connected to the obesity problem, yet others do not
believe alpacas will consume enough mineral, if fed alone, to meet their
There is a compromise to this dilemma.
Grain, or grain/protein may be added to the
mineral mix in SMALL amounts to entice alpacas to eat mineral. Small amounts
means as little as a handful every few days to 20%. The amount added will be
determined by the rate of mineral disappearance.
Just as with body scoring, mineral
disappearance should be closely monitored.
If the mineral mix disappears too
slowly, add more grain and/or decrease the amount of salt
If it disappears too quickly,
decrease the grain and/or increase the salt
Salt can be increased or decreased to control
There are times of the year, such as when the
alpacas are on pasture, that they will not want to eat mineral. At these times,
adjust the grain or salt to induce them to eat. And keep the mineral dispenser
near the waterer.
Animals that are in dry lot, whatever time of
year, tend to eat more mineral. Probably because they are bored or limit-fed. In
these cases, the grain needs to be decreased or the salt increased to reduce
Grain and protein supplements without mineral
should be fed according to condition and stage of reproduction.. Suggested
mineral intake should be listed on the feed tag or on the bag. Please be aware
that many minerals have both deficiencies and toxicities, with negative effects
on growth and/or reproduction. It is not enough to just provide a mineral mix,
it is critical that intake be monitored as well. Although some animals innately
know what they need, this is not always the case. Animals that may be on strict
regimens to lose excess weight may fill up on mineral instead. Mineral
toxicities can be even worse than obesity.
Please send questions or comments to Lark
Burnham, ruminant nutrition (firstname.lastname@example.org).