Alpacas majorly feed on hay and pasture as the majority of their diet and nutrients are gotten from leguminous plants.
Alpacas can eat clover as it is one of the major pasture plants which they love to eat.
Clover is a high protein hay which has many important nutritional benefits for alpaca.
Generally clover serves to protect soil and when harvested can be used as hay or silage.
This article will discuss what clover is, the health benefits of clover to alpacas and other questions that will be answered.
This article will help to clear your doubts on clover feeding to alpaca
What Is Clover?
Clover is the common name for a group of about 300 leguminous plants in the genus Trifolium, which belongs to the family Fabaceae.
Numerous species are specially mainly grown for fodder. White clover, Trifolium repens, is the most widely grown.
Clover species are typically small and trifoliate (i.e. the leaves have three leaflets), though some species can have up to five or seven leaflets.
Clovers can be annual, bi-annual or even perennials even though short-lived.
There are various types of clover such as red clover, white clover, hare-foot clover, alsike and crimson clover to mention a few.
Clover has various uses such as fixing nitrogen in the soil reducing the use and need for fertilizers.
It preserves soil moisture and can stop some species of weeds from growing.
After being harvested, it serves as hay for a number of livestock including alpacas, lamas, horses, cows, deer to mention a few.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Clover To Alpacas?
Clover is a leguminous grass which serves as hay to the alpacas. It is a characteristic of these kinds of hay to be high in protein.
Alpacas typically require about 10-12% protein and this can be provided by a good quality clover pasture.
Protein typically provides essential and non-essential amino acids for alpacas which typically help in muscle development and bone strengthening.
Calcium is an important macro mineral that is found in the clover plant. Clover pastures are typically good sources of calcium for alpacas.
Calcium is generally important for the development of strong bones and teeth.
Deficiency of calcium in alpacas can cause weakness of the bone and rickets in your alpaca flock.
Both simple and complex carbohydrates are provided by clover pasture to alpacas.
Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for most mammals.
Most of the carbs are broken into starch which is then converted.
A lack of carb in the alpaca diet can cause listlessness and dullness in the flock.
Fiber is also an important nutrient for the alpacas. Most often fiber helps in the digestion of alpaca food and also helps prompt gut health in the flock.
Clover is a good source of fiber for alpacas.
Phosphorus is a micro mineral that works with calcium to perform the function of bone and teeth development.
Most often these nutrients need to be absorbed and properly digested with the use of vitamins.
Here is an article I wrote on what do alpacas eat?
How Often Should I Feed Them Clovers?
Clover pasture hay is healthy and nutritious for alpacas and can be one of their major sources of food.
However to ensure more nutritional diversity for the alpacas try to feed them on various plant forages.
There are several leguminous plant options such as timothy grass, orchard grass, fescue and even alfalfa.
Rotating these various plants can ensure your alpacas are not stuck on one plant.
You can plant them side by side in your pasture to make it easier to change the plants.
Can Baby Alpacas Eat Clovers?
Baby alpacas or crias are perfectly able to eat clovers especially when it has been harvested as hay.
Crias typically spend their first few days and weeks nursing from their mothers milk.
If they are very hungry or their mother is not nursing well, then they can start feeding on grasses, hay or pellets.
When crias start on clover hay, they have to take some time to digest a few strands of leaves as they are not yet used to it, however with time they will get the hang of it.
Can Alpacas Eat Clover Hay?
Alpacas are perfectly capable of eating clover hay. Clover can be used both as pasture and as hay for alpacas.
Alpacas can eat clover fresh on the pasture as they are known to eat fresh plants apart from hay and silage.
Dried clover which is fresh clover which has been cut and left to dry to serve as hay is also palatable and beneficial for the alpacas.
Can Alpacas Eat White Clovers?
White clover is the most commonly grown species of the clover plant the world over. It is a trifoliate i.e. it has three leaflets.
Its flowers are usually marked with a white v and it has serrated edges.
White clover helps to protect the soil from erosion and as a leguminous plant can be fed as pasture, hay and silage to many livestock animals.
Alpacas can white clover both as fresh pasture and hay. It is the most commonly fed to them and it is also quite nutritious.
Also check out this article I wrote on can alpacas eat fescues
Can Alpacas Eat Sweet Clover?
Sweet clover is another species of clover regularly fed to alpacas and other livestock such as cattle and horses.
Sweet clover is characterized by three leaflets, toothed leaf edges and usually has white and yellow flowers.
Alpacas can eat sweet clover either as fresh pasture or hay.
Moldy sweet clover should not be fed to livestock to avoid pasture bloat and other digestive health problems that might occur.
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Clover
Clover is a leguminous plant and as such your alpacas are predisposed to have bloat problems if they overeat it.
Clover is good for them and provides them with nutrition, however you should endeavor to rotate their feed from time to time mixing in with other grasses and concentrates so they can get the best feeding.
Sweet clover in particular, has coumarou, which transforms to dicoumarol when it is moldy.
When livestock consume dicoumarol, it inhibits the production of Vitamin K.
Vitamin K is required as part of the blood clotting process and this can cause severe health problems in your flock if it continues over time.
It is best to ensure clover hay is not moldy before being fed to them and then if you have your own pasture, rotational grazing should be encouraged to allow the alpacas eat other forms of grass.
How Can I Feed Clover To Alpacas?
Clover can be fed to alpacas either as fresh pasture, hay or silage.
Cut and dried clover which is presented as hay should be checked regularly from time to time to ensure it is not moldy to avoid causing digestive problems and other health issues in the alpacas.
Alpacas rely mainly on grasses as their source of food.
Clover is a leguminous grass which is used to protect the soil and also serve as food for various livestock animals including alpacas.
Clover has over 300 species including the white, red and sweet clover.
Clover provides quite a number of nutritional benefits to alpacas including providing energy, proteins, fiber and essential minerals.
Clover should not be overfed to alpacas to avoid bloat issues and it should be rotated with other grasses from time to time.