Can Alpacas Eat Horse Feed? (Answered)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Alpacas are getting popular with homesteaders in recent times for their wool, pet reasons and even as guard animals.

Alpacas and horses can be housed together and they even make great companions. 

Alpaca owners have regularly asked if it is okay to feed horse feed to alpacas. However, the answer is no.

Alpacas should not be fed horse feed as it can cause loss of appetite and diarrhea in them.

The best feed for alpacas is hay or specially prepared commercial feeds.

This article will discuss what is in horse feed, health benefits of horse feed if alpacas can eat horse pellets and treats and other related questions.

What Is Horse Feed Made Up Of?

Can Alpacas Eat Horse Feed

Horse owners regularly buy pre-packaged and produced horse feed for their horses to eat and knowing what it is made up of is also quite important to the safety and health of the horses.

A typical horse feed is made from grains such as oats, barley, wheat etc., oilseeds, pulses and other byproducts such as beet pulp.

A quality horse feed mix should typically contain a higher percentage of the whole ingredients which are the grains. 

A good quality horse feed should have a high protein level which is important for the horse’s skin and coat.

Also, the type of horse feed given to a horse depends on what the horse is doing.

A horse that is under pressure such as rodeo horses or broodmares need high and good quality feed while a light worker on the farm can make do with a lower quality feed.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Horse Feed To Alpacas?

Although horse feed should not be fed to alpacas to avoid negative health effects, horse feed has quite the nutritional value especially for horses.

Here are some of the health benefits your animal can get from horse feed: 

  1. Protein

Protein is one of the most important nutrients supplied to horses from horse feed.

A good quality horse feed should have a high level of protein as this helps the horse to maintain its hooves and coats. 

Proteins provide essential and non-essential amino acids to horses. Sources of protein in horse feed include soybeans, field beans, bran, pollard to mention a few. 

  1. Carbohydrates

Both simple and complex carbs can be derived from horse feed.

These are the major sources of energy and they are important as they give your horse the energy it needs for its daily activities.  

Complex carbs can be gotten from foods such as alfalfa, soybean hay, grain hay and beet pulp.

Simple carbs on the other hand can be gotten from oats, corn and barley. 

  1. Fats

Fats are also a great source of energy. Fats help in the digestion of fat soluble foods such as Vitamin E and they tend to be highly digestible in nature.

Fats for horse feed can be gotten majorly from soybean and corn oil.

  1. Vitamins

Vitamins are important in every diet and a typical horse feed can contain up to 5 or 6 different vitamins including A, B, C, D and E. Vitamins help to boost immunity and improve overall health.

  1. Minerals 

Both micro and macro minerals can be found in horse feed.

Minerals in commercial horse feeds help to ensure that deficits and insufficiencies found in most horses’ forages are corrected.

Micro minerals found in horse feed include calcium, phosphorus and magnesium while macro minerals include copper, iron, manganese and zinc. 

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

How Often Should I Feed Them Horse Feed?

Alpacas should not be fed horse feed as it can cause digestive issues for them such as bloating and ruminal acidosis.

Grains which make up the majority of horse feed are usually advised to be fed to alpacas sparingly. 

Grass hay and grass with specially formulated alpaca feed are the best to give alpacas to eat to encourage growth and maintenance.

Can Baby Alpacas Eat Horse Feed?

Baby alpacas or crias should not be fed horse feed. A newborn cria should be fed milk or allowed to suckle from its mother.

From about 2 days old they will start eating grass which is their major source of food.

They can also be fed supplements such as alpaca nuts and hay. This will help them to develop and mature strongly.  

Can Alpacas Eat Horse Treats?

Yes, according to several alpaca homesteads and owners, horse treats are generally fine for alpacas, so you can go ahead to feed them with horse treats.

Horses like to be given treats from time to time apart from their regular diet. 

Horses are especially fond of sweet treats such as candied treats, fruits such as strawberries and bananas and vegetables.

Horse treats can also be given to your alpacas especially when they have been well behaved. 

Remember that giving them too many treats can disrupt their digestive system very fast. As such treats should remain treats and be given only in moderation. 

Can Alpacas Eat Horse Pellets?

Horse pellets are not appropriate for alpacas and should not be fed to them.

Horse pellets are basically horse feed that are prepared in pellet form.

The pellets are usually a combination of various grains which are then ground up and made into the pellets.

Horse pellets can also be made from beet pulp or alfalfa. This is an easier way to prepare these kinds of horse food.

Since horse feed is not suitable for alpacas then they in turn should not be fed horse pellets as it is basically a form of horse feed. 

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

Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Horse Feed?

It is best to avoid feeding horse feed to your alpacas as it is not healthy for them.

It is known to cause loss of appetite, digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating and also ruminal acidosis.

There are commercial feeds that are especially designed for alpacas and are safe for them to eat.

You can also feed your alpacas grass hay, fodder and silage with some supplements from time to time.

How Can I Feed Horse Feed To Alpacas?

When feeding horse feed to animals, it is usually poured into their feeding trough where they can easily get around it.

Some horse owners also like to soak their horse feeds as it helps with animals that have poor dentition.

It also helps ensure the horses get enough water.


Alpacas are funny looking animals that we keep majorly for their wool.

Alpacas are part of the camelid family and the subject of their food might be confusing to new alpaca owners.

Alpacas should not be fed horse feed as it only makes them lose appetite and have digestive issues.

Horse pellets should not be fed to alpacas, however they can have horse treats from time to time. 

Horse feed is a combination of different ingredients especially grains, fats and other foods specially designed for horses and it provides them with quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

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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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