What Do Alpacas Eat And What You Should Not Feed Them

Eating is probably your alpaca’s favorite activity, apart from sex. Being naturally herbivores, they will eat constantly. Fortunately, the diet that is most natural to them is also unlikely to make them obese, but they will easily eat through your budget and then some if you let them.

The biggest danger your pet alpaca faces from its diet is the lack of proper nutrition or accidentally eating inappropriate or harmful foods. Fortunately, their dietary needs are not radical and are very similar to those of other common animals.

Also Read: This Is How Your Pet Alpaca Behaves In Different Situations

Commercially Available Food

By far, the best forage you can give your pet alpacas is long fiber grass hay.

In addition to hay, it must also provide supplemental nutrition – there’s no way hay is just enough fodder to keep your private alpaca herd healthy.

Most supplemental food for alpacas come in the form of granules or pellets. Granules generally tend to be a mixture of a variety of grains, vitamins, and minerals. Regardless of what grass and hay are lacking, these granules will provide for your alpacas.

If you are particularly concerned about your alpaca’s nutritional intake, feel free to mix a few varieties of pellets and perhaps add some additional vitamins and minerals.

Some owners take it even further and add probiotics to help alpacas with digestion. If it’s only a little above the minimum, you and your alpacas should be fine.
Brands that come highly recommended:

  • Mazuri Pellets
  • Nutrena feed
  • Blue seal feed
  • Kent Feeds

Ensuring A Balanced Diet For Your Alpaca

Alpacas can be as varied as individual humans. They will need something different at different stages of development. Younger babies will be breastfed by their mothers. Nursing mothers will need supplemental nutrition.

Fortunately for you, there are almost no scientific guesses or approaches to be made on your part. All the mentioned brands have special formulations for different alpacas (especially for pregnant and lactating mothers). Talk to your vet, follow their frank advice, and buy the supplements he or she feels comfortable providing for your alpaca.

One more point about alpacas: they can be delicate eaters. You’ll notice that when they feed they tend to hunt for the softer parts of the hay and often ignore the rest. This is not personal, it is just for them, and the food is free, why not be picky?

You may want to save a little sanity and money buying a waste-free hay feeder. Alternatively, some pet owners have bought plastic-wrapped hay bales, and they only unwrap the top. They continue to unwind while the alpacas eat the rest of the bale.

If you allow them free reign and unfettered access to an entire bale, they will pull it apart, trample over most, and eat only a small fraction. I mean, who wants to eat food that has gotten muddy once your neighbor stepped on it? Exactly the same thing goes through the mind of your alpaca.

Natural Treats For Your Alpaca

Most of the grains will be enough treats for your alpaca. They will be very excited about their normal diet. Below is a list of safe treats for your alpaca:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Raisins
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Peanuts
  • Crackers
  • Sugar cubes

If you have any questions about what you want to feed your alpaca, be sure to ask your vet. The above list is more of a big hit list than a comprehensive ending, it will all be a list of what your pet alpacas can eat for a treat.

Vitamins And Supplements

Many alpacas aren’t really that interested in licking a single big block. Some owners will take salt chips and grind them and mix them with normal food. If you notice that your alpaca isn’t paying the right amount of attention when licking salt, this may help.

As for supplemental vitamins and minerals, they will need different formulations depending on their individual needs (pregnancy, old age, etc.) and the time of year when you feed them.

Fortunately for you, the alpaca industry has dedicated mineral and supplement suppliers to take the guesswork out for you.

The most reputable company to get your alpaca specific minerals from a com[any called Stillwater Minerals. They appear to have thoroughly researched the dietary needs of alpacas and llamas and have a comprehensive and detailed explanation of the precise proportions of minerals and vitamins in their supplements, and why they are needed.

Foods That You Should Not Feed Your Alpaca

Although not exhaustive below is a fairly extensive list of plant species you must not feed your alpaca.

  • Acorns
  • African rue
  • Agave (as in tequila plant leaves)
  • Amaryllis
  • Arrowgrass
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azalea
  • Beargrass
  • Sand begonia
  • Bird of paradise
  • Bitterweed
  • Black and Mountain laurel
  • Black locust
  • Black walnut
  • Bladderpod
  • Black snakeroot
  • Bleeding heart
  • Blue-green algae (someone somewhere tried this)
  • Bracken fern
  • Broom snakeweed
  • Buckeyes
  • Buckwheat
  • Buffalo burr
  • Burroweed
  • Bur sage
  • White ragweed
  • Buttercups
  • Butterfly weed
  • Calla lily
  • Calamondin orange tree
  • Camas lily
  • Carnation
  • Castor beans
  • Catclaw
  • Chinaberry
  • Chokecherry
  • Christmas cherry
  • Christmas rose
  • ¬†Cocklebur
  • Corn lily
  • Cress
  • Crotalaria
  • Crow poison (as if the name were not warning enough)
  • Crucifers
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy
  • Daphne
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Deathcamas
  • Devils ivy
  • Dumb cane
  • Drymary
  • English ivy
  • Elephant ears
  • Eucalyptus
  • Eyebane
  • False hellebore
  • Fiddleneck
  • Firecracker
  • Foxglove
  • Geranium
  • Ginko tree
  • Golden chain tree
  • Greasewood
  • Groundsel
  • Gumweed
  • Hemlock
  • Henbane
  • Holly berry
  • Horsebrush
  • Horse chestnut
  • ¬†Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea blossom
  • Indian hem
  • Inkweed
  • Iris
  • Ivy bush
  • Jack in the pulpit
  • Jequirity bean
  • Jerusalem cherry (ironically, native to Peru)
  • Jimsonweed
  • Johnsongrass
  • Jonquil
  • Juniper
  • Klamath weed
  • Labrador tea
  • Lantana
  • Larkspurs
  • Laurel
  • Leopardbane
  • Lillies
  • Lily of the valley
  • Locoweed
  • Lupine
  • Manchineel
  • Mandrake
  • Mayapple
  • Mescal bean
  • Mesquite
  • Milkweed
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Morning glory
  • Mountain laurel
  • Mountain mahogany
  • Mushrooms (not a plant!)
  • Mustards
  • Narcissus
  • Needlepoint ivy
  • Nightshade
  • Oak brush
  • Oaktree (acorns and leaves)
  • Oleander
  • Orange sneezeweed
  • Oxalis
  • Pasque flower
  • Philodendron
  • Pin cherry
  • Podocarpus
  • Poinciana
  • Poinsettia
  • Poison hemlock
  • Poison ivy
  • Poison oak
  • Poison suckleys
  • Poison sumac
  • Pokeweed
  • Poppy
  • Potato plant
  • Pothos
  • Prince’s plum
  • Privet
  • Pyracantha
  • Rattlebox
  • Rayless goldenrod
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb (which makes excellent pies, just not for your alpaca)
  • Ryegrass
  • Rubberweed
  • Russian thistle
  • St. Johnswort
  • Sandcorn
  • Sesbane
  • Silverling
  • Skunk cabbage ¬∑ Snow on the mountain
  • Sorghum (so not EVERY grain is acceptable to your alpaca)
  • Spathe flower
  • Spurges
  • Stagger grass
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • String of pearls
  • Tansy ragwort
  • Thornapple
  • Tobacco (which is bad for people too)
  • Tomato leaves
  • Trumpet vine
  • Tulip
  • Vetch
  • Violet seeds
  • Water hemlock
  • White ragweed
  • White snakeroot
  • Wild carrots
  • Wild cherry
  • Wild cucumber
  • Wild parsnip
  • Wild peas
  • Wild plums
  • Wisteria
  • Yellow Jessamine
  • Yew tree

The above list of plants is not exhaustive (despite the good faith attempt), you should consult your vet to find out which plants may be native to your area that may be of concern to your alpacas.

Additional Poisonous Things

  • Walnuts
  • Monensin- Common supplement for chickens and livestock, AVOID
  • Urea
  • Molds
  • Blister beetles

Plants that are terrible, though not lethal

  • Foxtails
  • Nettles
  • Poison Ivy

The above plants are extremely irritating, to the point that you may need to take your alpacas to the vet.