Can Alpacas Eat Barley? (Answered)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Nutrition is essential while dealing with animals.

Alpacas, like any other animal, can be harmed if their nutritional intake is restricted. As a result, we should exercise extreme caution when it comes to what we give them.

Alpacas are not known to consume a lot of food. They are, however, simple animals to feed.

Their diet consists primarily of grass and leaves. Nonetheless, these lovely mammals can eat a variety of other foods. 

However, is barley a part of an alpaca’s diet? Do they provide the adequate nutrient needed for alpacas to thrive? Let’s find out.

Can Alpacas Eat Barley?

Can Alpacas Eat Barley

Alpacas can safely eat barley. Barley is a nutritious cereal grain. It is the world’s fourth-biggest grain crop.

Barley is usually used to make soups, bread, and stews. In addition, it is a valuable source of food for most animals.

Interestingly, barley has been discovered to promote growth in alpacas. This food is high in fiber and low in cholesterol.

This makes it a balanced meal to consider for alpacas.

However, this shouldn’t be top on your alpacas menu. Alpacas are herbivores, and they would naturally prefer foods like hay, leaves and plants.

This article looks at the health benefits of barley to alpacas as well as other interesting facts about feeding them barley.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Barley To Alpacas

Barley contains several health benefits for alpacas. Let us look at a few; 

Rich in vitamins and minerals 

Barley is enriched in folate, iron, and the vitamin B6 complex, all of which are beneficial to alpacas’ health.

It aids in the reduction of homocysteine levels. Homocysteine levels above a particular limit may increase the chance of alpacas developing heart disease.

Folate and iron are also present in barley. They are essential for red blood cell production and blood oxygenation.

They are required for proper cardiac function.

Potassium provider

This macromineral promotes glucose metabolism, amino acid absorption, and protein synthesis.

This helps promote milk production and reproductive performance in alpacas. 

Furthermore, it also boosts immunological function in alpacas.

A good source of fiber

Barley is a good source of Fiber. This nutrient helps improve alpacas’ heart by lowering blood pressure and regulating cholesterol levels.

It helps control appetite, reduces the calorie count of his food, and promotes normal GI function and blood glucose levels. 

Bone health

Phosphorus, calcium, copper, magnesium, and zinc are all found in barley. They help to improve alpacas’ bone structure and strength.

Zinc aids in bone mineralization and development.

Calcium, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, on the other hand, contribute to bone health and are necessary for a robust skeletal system.

Rich in niacin 

Barley is also a rich source of vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. These nutrients help alpacas’ immune systems work better.

Niacin can assist in the reduction of bad cholesterol, lipoprotein, and free radicals. It also reduces the likelihood of blood clots in alpacas.

Here is an article I wrote on what do alpacas eat?

Prevents production of gall stone

Studies have shown that Triglyceride levels can be reduced by eating barley. Alpacas may be able to avoid gallstones by increasing their diet of barley. 

In addition, barley has a lot of insoluble fiber. There is a theory that insoluble fiber inhibits bile acid production. Bile acid leads to gallstone development.

Serves as a healing property

Barley contains zinc. Zinc, a vitamin present throughout the body. In addition to its numerous benefits, Zinc is essential for wound healing. 

That is, in cases of injury, the presence of this nutrient helps alpacas heal quickly. 

How Often Should I Feed Them Barley

Alpacas may graze freely on barley hay. However, a cup of barley a day is sufficient for alpacas.

This provides them with the necessary nutrition and vitamin supplements present in barley.

Let’s look at the various types of barleys; 

Hulled barley

Hulled barley is covered barley that has been treated slightly to remove just the tough inedible outer hull.

This barley is highly nutritious. And, it is the healthiest kind of barley.

Pearl barley 

Pearl barley is the most popular type of barley. Unlike the hulled barley, its outer bran layer, as well as its husk, is removed

Pearl barley is less chewy and cooks faster than hulled wheat. However, it has less fiber, it’s less nutritious, and is not complete grain. 

Can Baby Alpaca Eat Barley

For young alpacas, barley is safe for consumption. However, baby alpacas require milk for healthy growth and development. 

Goat or cow milk makes it an excellent alternative in the absence of alpacas’ milk.

This milk has the same nutritional value as alpaca milk. They can be given to them either fresh or powdered.

Barley can be introduced to young alpacas over three months of age. This, however, should be fed to them in moderation.

Overfeeding or a dependency on protein-rich grasses can be detrimental to their health.

Young Alpacas are also known to enjoy apples, berries, broccoli stalks, carrots, pumpkin, raisins, turnips, and other safe-to-eat fruits, vegetables, and plants. 

Also check out this article I wrote on can alpacas eat mushrooms

Can Alpacas Eat Whole Barley? 

Whole barley is safe for alpacas to consume. It is a varied grain.

Unless sprouting or malting, whole barley has a stiff outer shell that must be removed before processing. 

This grain aren’t just safe for alpacas, they also provide a good number of nutrients which are great for alpacas.

Whole barley is a good source of;


Proteins are essential for the development of body tissue. Proteins are made up of amino acids which promote healthy cartilage, eyesight, ligaments, and skin in alpacas.

Dietary fibers

Fiber is crucial for the health of alpacas. It softens their stool and enhances its weight and size.


Magnesium is essential for mobilizing calcium from bones. It helps promote digestibility in alpacas. 

Can Alpacas Eat Barley Grain?

Barley grain can be safely consumed by alpacas. Barley grains are one of the most common grains used for diets. It is a good source of energy and protein.

Barley grains are loved by alpacas, especially nursing alpacas. However, they should be fed sparingly. 

To enhance digestive efficiency and maintain stable rumen function, barley processing must be done with care. 

Can Alpacas Eat Barley Hay?

Yes, alpacas can feed on barley hay. This food is not only cheap, it provides nutrients for alpacas.

Research shows that Barley can be cut and dried to make hay. To get nutritious hay, barleys should be cut early. 

Hay is frequently fed to livestock throughout the winter or in the summer during droughts.

Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Barley

Grain overload

Alpacas should not be fed too many barley grains. Consuming a large number of grains can be toxic to alpacas. 

Too many grains can cause an increase in lactic acid production. There are little to no symptoms of grain overload in alpacas.

However, lactic acid produced can cause slowing of the gut, dehydration, and death. 

Bad barley

Alpacas should not be fed moldy or rotten barley. If the barley has an awful smell or look, it should be discarded.

Feeding alpaca’s bad barley can cause health complications.

Barley grains should not be soaked

To keep grain from becoming moldy, do not soak it before feeding it to alpacas. 

An alpaca has a four-chambered stomach. Therefore, Stomach contractions mix the digested grain, which is then soaked and softened, regurgitated, and crushed into little bits during cud chew. 

This simply means an alpaca can soak its grains. 

Clean water 

Alpacas should have access to clean water. Avoid feeding them algae-infested water. Blue-green algae which are often found in stagnant water can be harmful to alpacas.

It can cause weakness, staggering, and at times recovery. The worst-case scenarios are convulsion and death.

Treated grains 

This can lead to death. It is unsafe to feed alpacas-treated barley plants or give them access to pastures that have been treated. 

This kind of barley may contain pesticides and herbicides can be toxic to animals.

Pesticide exposure can be linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. 

How Can I Feed Barley to Alpacas?

Barley is usually fed to alpacas as supplements. They can be fed to alpacas as pasture, hay, or grains.

However, we may want to spice up barleys for alpacas.

Here’s a simple way to spice up barely for alpacas;


· 10 cups uncooked pot barley.

· A bag of frozen mixed vegetables such as carrots, beans, etc. 


In a large soup pot, cook barley for about 40 minutes, adding water as required.

Cook the vegetables in a big saucepan that is half the size of the barley. Combine the barley and vegetable mixture. Allow to cool and then, serve to alpacas. 


Barely is an amazing food choice for alpacas. It has several health advantages for alpacas. 

A cup of barley a day provides the nutritional requirements alpacas needs. However, it’s best to feed them barley occasionally.

Alpacas can also eat whole barley, barley grain and barley hay as well. They are also safe for alpacas to consume.

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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