Alfalfa is a favorite food of alpacas, who regard it as the best thing imaginable.
However, generally, most people believe alfalfa is excessively heavy in protein, which will make an alpaca obese and coarse in its fleece; this isn’t incorrect.
Alfalfa can be added to grass hay in tiny amounts. It may be advantageous for some people with protein requirements that aren’t met by grass hay alone.
A wide variety of grass hays are available, each with a unique nutritional profile. Crude protein content can vary widely in grass hay.
Additional sources of protein, including alfalfa, may be needed to meet the protein requirements of residents of more mature grass hay.
What is Alfalfa?
Predominantly farmed for hay and silage, alfalfa (also known as purple medic) is the pea family’s annual clover-like, leguminous plant (Fabaceae).
It’s usually regarded as a high-quality source of protein. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Still, it’s low in starch, making it beneficial for avoiding stomach issues.
What are The Health Benefits of Alfalfa to Alpacas?
Alfalfa may help lower cholesterol levels.
Alfalfa’s ability to lower cholesterol has been the most extensively researched health benefit to date.
A number of animal studies have shown that it can lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
Alfalfa’s cholesterol-lowering benefits are assumed to be due to its high level of saponins.
Saponins are phytochemicals with a history of lowering cholesterol levels in people who consume them.
Reducing cholesterol absorption in the intestines and increasing the excretion of molecules used to generate new cholesterol are two ways they accomplish this.
Their method reduces cholesterol absorption in the gut and increases the excretion of molecules used to generate new cholesterol.
How Often Should I Feed Them Alfalfa?
Alpacas can’t have alfalfa frequently. Although the animals like the hay, it is not exactly good for their urinary tract due to the high crude protein level.
So it is best to feed them as supplements or treats.
Can Baby Alpacas Eat Alfalfa?
A baby alpaca’s (cria) first month of life is spent primarily on its mother’s milk. Crias can eat up to 10% of their body weight every day when they’re growing.
They begin munching on grass and hay and sipping their mother’s milk at the age of a few weeks.
Then, at roughly two months of age, they can begin consuming hard foods like pellets.
Nevertheless, if they have good pasture, they may not be interested in purchasing them.
Weaning occurs at roughly six months of age, at which point the crias can no longer get milk.
By this point in time, the animals should be eating pasture or pellets, depending on the species. Alfalfa can be given to them as a treat around this time.
Here is an article I wrote on what do alpacas eat
Can Alpacas Eat Alfalfa Hay?
Alpacas can eat alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is extremely nutrient-dense and rich in protein.
Therefore, alpacas should only be fed alfalfa hay when they need a nutritional boost.
Male alpacas, in particular, may be unable to handle the high doses of protein. In addition, overconsumption can result in life-threatening bladder stones and obstructions.
But alfalfa hay can be provided to alpacas that are growing, pregnant or breastfeeding. Non-pregnant females and males should only be given a small amount of alfalfa hay.
Can Alpacas Eat Alfalfa Pellets?
Pellets should not be used in place of hay entirely because alpacas’ ruminant digestive tract requires grassy feed to function properly.
Utilize only pelletized grass, not grain or alfalfa, and avoid totally substituting pellets for hay in their winter diet.
Alpacas are pseudo-ruminants that can chew their cud for up to fifteen hours per day.
This is something they must accomplish, as it serves as the foundation for their digestive system.
Chewing stimulates the formation of bicarbonate in their first stomach, a critical component of their multi-stage digestion.
Thus, hay feeds llamas and alpacas with more than just nutrients; it also gives them something to chew on.
However, while pellets provide the same nutrients as hay, they lack the forage characteristics associated with hay.
Additionally, pellets can be made from hay, alfalfa, or grain, and not all of these are suitable for alpacas.
Alfalfa is an excellent supplement for pregnant or nursing alpacas, as well as those in need of weight gain.
This, however, should not be in large quantities. Alfalfa contains a high calcium content, which might induce urinary tract problems when mixed with grain.
Also check out this article I wrote on can alpacas eat pumpkin
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Alfalfa?
Alfalfa is not very beneficial to these animals in large quantities due to its high protein content.
It is preferable to provide them with a supplement. Because alpacas are pseudo-ruminants, an excessive amount of pellet is detrimental to their health.
Their system is incapable of processing huge quantities of sweet feed or grain, whether in kernel or pellet form.
Consuming an excessive amount of grain causes a build-up of lactic acid in an alpaca’s system, leading to a condition known as acidosis or, more precisely, grain poisoning.
This condition can affect all ruminants, but alpacas frequently do not exhibit symptoms or signs of suffering until it is too late to treat adequately.
Furthermore, when before feeding alpacas, ensure the alfalfa are not mature plants.
The immature plants still have their lusciousness and a lot of nutrients that are essential for the animals.
Additionally, avoid moldy alfalfa, as the mold may contain mycotoxin, a toxin generated by fungi that can cause health problems.
Composting moldy hay is one of the nicest things you can do with it. Cover and elevate hay to extend its life.
Mycotoxin can be spread by the use of moldy hay for feed or bedding.
Therefore, it is critical to store hay properly to avoid contamination. Maintain as much as possible a clean, dry, and consistently cold storage location.
Clean up the nooks and crevices of your storage places on a regular basis, and make every effort to keep mice, rats, and other rodents away.
Don’t buy too much feed at once to ensure that it doesn’t go bad for more than a year.
Buying more than a year old hay can reduce its nutritional value, so keep that in mind when you plan your purchases.
How Can I Feed Alfalfa To Alpacas?
Place the grass in a clean feeding trough along with water for their consumption. Alpacas are known to consume about 3-5% of the body weight in water per day.
Also, alpacas will not feed on a dirty or soggy trough. This is particularly important for those that are raising other ruminant animals.
Alpacas have a basic diet that fluctuates with the seasons.
They can survive on grass alone most of the time, but it’s crucial to supplement their food.
Alfalfa is a perfect choice for this. However, do not give them too much.