What do I feed my alpacas?
In South America, alpacas have developed in high altitude areas
with often scarce and poor quality pickings. While they are capable
of surviving under these conditions, they will do best on a good
Alpacas like to both graze and browse which means
they will eat grass like a sheep but you will also find them munching
on taller plants and trees. They are particularly fond of berry
plants (blackberry, raspberry) and the leaves of fruit trees, so
young trees will need to be fenced off if you don't want them gobbled
An alpaca will eat roughly the same amount as a
sheep, however they do like to move (and often run) around so are
not suited to being confined in small yards for extended periods.
Like any animal, alpacas will become
more friendly and easier to handle if you hand feed them. With
the abundance of lush pasture in many parts of Tasmania, they will
have a tendency to become overweight so care should be taken to
ensure you are not overfeeding your alpacas.
Our alpacas love nice green lucerne hay, carrots,
sliced apples, horse muesli (a commercial mix of chaff, oats, maize,
sunflower seeds, molasses etc), plain grass hay and the leaves
from our fruit trees. We just wander out with a handful of these
goodies and the alpacas come running.
Extreme care should be taken not to feed your alpacas
garden plants as many of these are toxic to both alpacas and other
livestock. If in any doubt, DON'T give it to your alpacas.
Some areas are deficient in various minerals and
trace elements so a soil test and consultation with your veterinarian
would be beneficial to find out if any additional supplements will
be required for your alpacas. We occasionally give a selenium drench,
ADE (Vitamins A, D & E) and "Nutrimol" (a trace element
supplement) to our alpacas.
If you are introducing any new food to your alpacas,
introduce it to them gradually over 2-3 weeks. This will ensure
the animal's digestive system will adapt to the new feed more easily.
Always ensure that your alpacas have ready access
to clean fresh drinking water. They will be happy to drink from
a stream or creek, alternatively you can put water buckets or troughs
around your paddocks (just ensure these are cleaned and refilled
We have a dam on our property but it is very deep
and we keep it fenced off from the alpacas. In hot weather alpacas
will like to cool down in water and may be unable to get out again
if your dam is deep or has steep sides. We have seen an alpaca
swim across the dam. The dam was covered in algae at the time and
the poor alpaca thought he could walk on it and stepped in.