Having alpacas as pets and for their fine wool is getting popular the world over.
Knowledge on a comprehensive alpaca diet is quite limited and alpaca owners can sometimes be stumped on what to feed their flock apart from their basic diet.
Figs are sweet honey tasting fruits popular in the Middle East and Asia. Alpacas can eat figs and you can feed them figs from time to time as a treat.
This article will explain what figs are, the health benefits of figs to alpacas, how often you should feed them figs, if alpacas can eat fig leaves and other related questions you might have.
What are Figs?
Although figs are mostly classified as fruits, they are in fact a syconium which is a bundle of asymmetric flowers growing on the common fig tree.
These flowers are covered by a pear-shaped pod which is edible and which is mistakenly referred to as the fruit.
Figs come in various varieties such as red, white, purplish black and green.
Figs are much loved because they are a sweet honey tasting fruit which was even used as sweeteners before the discovery of sugar.
Figs were originally found in the Middle Eastern part of the world and today is cultivated in countries like Turkey and Greece.
Fresh figs are not easy to come by as it has a short season and most often people use dried, canned or frozen figs instead.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Figs To Alpacas?
Figs are known for their high fiber content. This fiber ensures the nourishment of the alpacas intestines.
Figs also contain prebiotic properties, which feed the gut bacteria and encourage a healthy gut environment and improves digestive wellbeing.
Antioxidants are essential substances in the body that reduce the effect of free-radicals and prevent damage from oxidation.
Figs are high in polyphenols, which are plant compounds that protect the body.
These substances have defensive antioxidant capacity, which means they prevent oxygen from reacting with some other chemical compounds and causing damage to cells and tissues; as a result, they play an important role in oxidation management.
Figs provide our bodies with much needed potassium.
High intake of sodium or salt can lead to potassium deficiencies and predispose both humans and animals to risk of hypertension.
Providing your alpacas with figs will give them potassium in good quantities as figs are rich in potassium content.
Figs are especially rich in calcium content and studies have shown they have up to three times the calcium content found in other fruits.
Calcium is especially important for bone and teeth development and strengthening. It helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and rickets in animals.
It is also a good source of phosphorus and manganese which work hand in hand with calcium.
Figs are also rich in vitamins especially Vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for the blood clotting process.
It is also partially functional in bone health development. It is also very important for skin repair, making wounds heal faster.
Here is an article I wrote on what do alpacas eat
How Often Should I Feed Them Figs?
Figs are treats for your alpaca flock and should for no reason replace their basic diet.
Figs are nutritionally beneficial for your alpacas as we have enumerated above, however this doesn’t mean you should feed them figs all the time.
You have to be careful when adding figs to their diet as the microbes in their guts usually take some time to adjust to changes.
Your alpacas should be fed mainly on nutritive pasture grass and hay.
Too much of a new food at once can upset your alpacas digestive system and as such figs and other treats should be given sparingly about once a week.
Can Baby Alpacas Eat Figs?
Crias are usually fragile when they are born, needing to suckle and rely on their mothers’ milk to survive.
Although, within some weeks they can start feeding on other things slowly such as grass and hay.
Introduce figs and other treats to your cria slowly and watch how they adjust to it.
Remember that they would need some time for their stomachs to adjust to new things.
It is better to give treats to cria slowly and sparingly so it doesn’t cause problems with their delicate systems.
Can Alpacas Eat Fig Leaves?
Fig leaves can grow in various types, shapes and sizes. They are often glossy and rubbery in nature.
Fig leaves are known to be poisonous to dogs as the tree sap contains a compound that is irritating to the dogs system and can cause fig poisoning.
There is not much knowledge available on whether fig leaves are toxic to alpacas or other livestock animals, however it is better to avoid feeding fig leaves to alpacas.
If you have fig leaves around keep them off the pasture as alpacas will chew on anything green they come across.
Can Alpacas Eat Fig Newtons?
Fig newtons were jam filled cookies which started production in 1891 and is one of the oldest commercially baked products in the world.
Over the years, the cookies have undergone different changes including the introduction of different flavors to the brand and the dropping of the fig from the name.
Fig newtons are processed products that have additives and preservatives in them.
Also several products used in the production might be harmful to your alpacas and as such to be on the safe side it is best not to feed them fig newtons.
Also check out this article I wrote on can alpacas eat flax?
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Figs?
Before feeding figs to your alpacas, take your time to introduce it to them slowly and watch to see how they react.
Remember that alpacas’ digestive system usually needs some time to adjust to new things.
Cease feeding of figs immediately if you notice any adverse effects.
Figs should be fed in moderation and sparingly to your alpacas.
Apart from the fact that it is a treat that should not be given everyday, it is also a highly sweet fruit which has a high sugar content.
Your alpacas do not need a lot of sugar in their diet to avoid negative digestive health problems.
How Can I Feed Figs To Alpacas?
Before feeding figs to alpacas, wash the fruit thoroughly to remove any contaminants that might have adhered to the surface.
It is best to cut the figs into small chunks and bite sized pieces so the alpacas can pick them up easily.
If you are feeding them dried figs then it is better to soak them overnight before feeding them to the alpacas.
This helps the figs soften up and the alpacas bodies can assimilate it better. You can also read up on different safe ways to prepare figs for your alpacas.
Figs are honey tasting sweet fruits that are loved by most all over the world.
Due to their short season, it is usually not easy to come across a fresh fig. However, dried figs are just as good and are also eaten with gusto.
You can feed figs as treats to your alpacas but you have to introduce it to them slowly and also ensure their stomachs are well adjusted to it.
Figs have quite the nutritional benefit for alpacas including vitamins, potassium, calcium, and fiber to mention a few.
However, keep it in mind that figs are treats and as such should be given sparingly to alpacas from time to time.