Why alpacas perform better than sheep when on poor quality forage:

Slower particulate passage time (microbes have longer

to attack structural carbohydrates in C-1 63 hours in

alpacas, compared with 41 hours in sheep).

Faster liquid passage time (constant removal of microbial protein, vitamins and soluble minerals from C-1 and

C-2 maintains a rapidly dividing population of microbes

which is more efficient. Liquid flow is 10.4% per hour in

alpacas, compared with 7.7% per hour in sheep).

Greater volume of saliva production (in relation to foregut volume).

Efficient output of energy and protein on limited quality


Efficient nitrogen balance (by reduction of urea excretion through kidneys, thereby enabling recycling of urea

through their saliva and directly through the wall of C-1).

Alpacas are well adapted to Australian conditions

Paddock Feed

Alpacas are primarily grazers and eat small amounts of a

wide variety of plants. They will eat approximately 2% of

their body weight in feed per day and prefer shorter pastures.

Ideally they should have a diet consisting of 20% fibre.

They are very effective at extracting nutrients (protein and

energy) from the available feed. Alpacas are efficient recyclers

of urea and protein levels of 10-12% only are required.

Although they can survive harsh conditions they do best on

good quality pasture. The growth of a variety of grasses and

forbs in quality soils will provide your alpacas with good


Care should be taken to avoid poisonous plants in your

pasture or hanging over fences into alpaca paddocks, such as

highly toxic oleander, lantana etc.

Supplementary Feeding

In seasons where pasture becomes limited, alpacas may be supplemented with good quality pasture hay and/or various grains according to their physiological state (e.g. pregnancy, lactation, growth, maintenance) and body condition score.

Roughage in the form of hay should be available at all times, especially in spring or on lush pasture, e.g. irrigation.

Depending on your location, paddock feed may not be adequate throughout the year for alpacas, particularly those requiring extra nutrition. Pregnant and lactating females need a higher daily intake than other alpacas.

Australian soils are often deficient in certain minerals and trace elements. Pastures and soils can be analysed to assess any areas of deficiency and it is important that this be done to avoid using unnecessary additives.

Alpacas can be supplemented using a commercial mix designed for alpacas, and some owners have reported success with seaweed meal.

Alpaca Feeding Facts

Peruvian studies have shown that alpacas consume tall grasses in the wet season and short grasses in the dry season. Alpacas are

highly adaptable grazers that will eat grass when it is available but they will adapt to sedges during dry periods of low grass


The sedge family (Cyperaceae) comprises annual and perennial grass-like or rush-like plants which usually show a preference

for marshy or wet places but a few also occur on dry sandy soils with unimproved pasture. On improved pasture, sheep will eat

at least 2.5 times more legumes such as clovers than alpacas, so alpacas still prefer grasses even in this situation.

Reasons why nutrition is so important:

Viable birth weights
Proper growth rates
Proper development of all body parts, eg. Straight legs etc.
Disease resistance
Eliminates the need for injections re selenium, vitamins E,A,&D
Healthy skin, thus proper follicle and fibre alignment