Flax is a food and fiber crop that is popular for producing flax or linseed which has been shown to be quite beneficial to both humans and animals.
Flax can serve as a pasture crop for alpacas but only in the early stages.
Alpacas are most often raised on foraging of pasture and if you have a flax field, they can feed on them in the early stages of growth.
More popular however, is the flax seed which is now being added to alpaca feeds for its beneficial health properties.
Let’s look into the nutritional benefits of flax, how often you should feed them flax, whether baby alpacas can eat flax, among other questions.
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What Are The Health Benefits Of Flax To Alpacas?
Flax and its’ by-product flax seed have been reputed to be quite valuable nutritionally and some of the health benefits the alpacas can derive from feeding on them include:
Flax is a plant that is known for its high fiber content.
A tablespoon of whole flax seeds contains about 3 grams of fiber, which accounts for 8–12% of the daily recommended fiber intake for adult humans and more than enough for animals.
Flax is known to have two types of fiber which are soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber helps to regulate blood sugar level while the insoluble helps to improve stool quality and prevent constipation.
Flax is known to contain high quality protein content.
As it is your alpacas require good protein in their daily diet and by letting them graze on flax and adding flaxseed to their diet, their nutrition will be improved tremendously.
Numerous laboratory and animal studies have revealed that flaxseed protein improves immune system function, reduces saturated fat, and also contains anti-fungal properties.
Flaxseed is popular for its’ omega 3 fatty acids content. It is one of the few food sources with a high content of these important fatty acids.
One of the fatty acids called Ala needs to be gotten from foods eaten as the body doesn’t provide it.
Different studies on animals have shown that the presence of Ala in flax seeds helps to prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the major blood vessels, reduces artery inflammatory process, and inhibits tumor development.
These acids are quite important for alpacas.
Lignans are polyphenols or plant compounds with anti-oxidant and estrogen properties that can help to reduce cancer risk and improve health and wellbeing.
Flax seed is very rich in lignans and is known to contain up to 800 times the amount of lignans found in other plants.
Other laboratory and animal studies have also shown that flax seeds have the potential to prevent colon and skin cancers.
Feeding flax and its byproducts to alpacas can help protect them from cancerous diseases.
Calcium is an important micronutrient that is responsible for the development of bones and teeth.
A deficiency of calcium in alpacas can lead to osteoporosis and rickets. A serving of flaxseed provides about 2% of the recommended daily intake.
When combined with other foods it helps to make up the total calcium needed by your alpacas.
Here is a comprehensive article I wrote on what do alpacas eat
How Often Should I Feed Them Flax?
Flax in itself is a pasture crop on which your alpacas can graze on from time to time.
While flax is growing and is still at a young age, alpacas can feed on them successfully.
However, due to the high fibrous content in the plant by the time it matures the alpacas would not be able to eat it.
Flax can also be cut and made into hay for the alpacas to eat. Flax hay has been shown to have a similar nutritive value with that of timothy grass hay.
The hay when cut while it is still immature is very nutritious to the alpacas.
Flax and flax hay should be mixed in with other pasture grasses such as timothy, bermuda and orchard grass.
Can Baby Alpacas Eat Flax?
Baby alpacas can start eating other foods apart from their mothers milk as soon as they are two weeks of age.
Once they start eating grass, it might take them a while to get used to it as their digestive system is still fragile and getting used to it.
Crias can chew on a strand of grass for hours, trying to get it down and this can be fun to watch.
You can also add flaxseed into the alpacas concentrates which the crias can eat and be beneficial to them.
Can Alpacas Eat Flaxseed?
Flaxseed has been discovered in recent times to be a superfood which has many nutritive qualities and is beneficial to both humans and animals.
Alpacas can eat flax seed and it is now being incorporated into their feeds and concentrates.
Flaxseed is most important for its’ omega 3 fatty acids content including alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.
It also has a high fiber content and possesses lignans.
Flaxseed is now being added to most updated alpaca diets and feeds and this helps to improve their immune health and improve the quality of their fleece.
Can Alpacas Eat Flaxseed Raw?
Alpacas can eat raw flaxseed as some alpaca owners have reported feeding it to their alpacas raw without any side effects.
However it should not be a regular occurrence as they might not easily be digestible for them in the raw form.
As an alpaca owner, you can grind them up before feeding it to them. Most often if you can buy ground flaxseed from any store around you.
You can also choose to buy alpaca feeds which have flaxseed in them to get the best out of it.
Also check out this article I wrote on can alpacas eat cucumber?
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Flax?
If you have flax as a pasture grass on your homestead, watch the growth and ensure your alpacas are feeding on them when they are still immature.
If you are going to prepare flax hay for your alpacas then you have to ensure you cut the plant while it is not yet mature.
For flax hay to have any nutritive value, it has to be cut at a young stage then dried before being fed to the alpacas.
Flax straw is basically useless so do not feed to the alpacas.
How Can I Feed Flax To Alpacas?
Your alpacas can free graze on flax pasture if it is available on your homestead.
It is best to let them graze the flax plants while they are still young before they become overly fibrous and unable to eat.
You can as well make flax hay for the alpacas which are flax plants that have been cut and dried.
The plants should be cut down while they are still young and flax hay will make a great winter food for the alpacas.
Flax is a food and fiber crop that is often planted for its fiber.
Alpacas can graze on flax pasture while they are still young before they become mature and become too fibrous.
You can also make flax hay from cut flax plants.
These hay has to be cut while the plants are still young so it can retain its nutritive value.
Flaxseed is the seed of the flax plant which has become popular in recent times.
It is known for its high nutritional value which includes provision of omega 3 fatty acids, lignans and protein.
Flaxseed is now being incorporated into alpaca diets and helps to strengthen their immune system and improve fleece quality.