Can Alpacas Eat Sheep Feed? (Answered)

Alpacas are gentle farm animals that most often feed on silage, hay and grass.

Alpacas also have concentrated feeds especially prepared for them to supplement their dietary needs. 

Some alpaca owners especially those who also keep sheep have asked if alpacas can eat sheep feed and sheep feed is perfectly safe for alpacas to eat.

Sheep are supplementary foods prepared for sheep to balance their diet especially when foraging abilities are restricted.

Let’s discuss whether alpacas can eat sheep feed, pellets and grains, what sheep feed is made of, how often you should feed them sheep feed and other questions you might have. 

What Is Sheep Feed Made Of?

Can Alpacas Eat Sheep Feed

Sheep feed is the supplementary ration for sheep prepared for them to balance their nutrition when foraging and hay are not readily available such as during winter.

Sheep feed is usually prepared based on the nutritional requirement of the sheep as different categories of sheep have different nutritional requirements.

Most sheep feed consists of grains, peas, hay such as alfalfa, silage, molasses, wheat, barley, oats and oilseeds.

All these ingredients are important in providing the essential sheep nutrition which includes vitamins, crude protein, energy and essential minerals. 

What Are The Health Benefits Of Sheep Feed To Alpacas?

  1. Protein

Every animal needs protein to survive as they are the basic building blocks of the body.

A sheep requires a minimum of 7% dietary crude protein in their body to be able to fight diseases and improve production.

Crude protein is an important nutrient gotten from sheep feed and deficiencies of protein in the sheep can lead to weight loss and reproduction issues. 

  1. Energy

Energy is one of the most important aspects of sheep feed production. The primary factor of a sheep’s performance is the energy constituent of its diet.

Pastures, hay, grains, and oilseeds provide energy to sheep. 

If sheep do not get enough energy, their wool and meat output and reproductive capacity will suffer, as will their mortality and disease rates.

  1. Fibre

Fiber is an important dietary element which is provided for in sheep diet. Fiber is usually present in sheep feed even on forage grasses.

Some pasture grasses are naturally fibrous in nature.

Fiber is important for the smooth and easy digestion of food and promotion of health in the digestive tract.

  1. Copper

Most often copper is not found in the natural diet of the sheep. Some of the  grasses they forage on usually lack a considerable copper content.

Although sheep are predisposed to copper toxicity when in excess, they still require a good amount of the mineral.

Pregnant and lactating sheep require copper. 

  1. Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an essential mineral which can sometimes be deficient in sheeps’ natural diet.

This is because as grasses grow and mature, the phosphorus content moves from the leaves down to the seed. 

Sheep browsing on mature forage oftentimes suffer from phosphorus deficiencies and this has to be made up for by the supplementary feed. 

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

How Often Should I Feed Them Sheep Feed?

Alpacas most often feed on pasture grasses, hay or silage just like sheep.

They have specially formulated alpaca feed which serves as supplements for them during periods when natural pasture sources are low such as winter.

Although sheep feed is designed with sheep in mind, it is safe for alpacas to eat them unlike alpaca feed which is unsafe for sheep to eat.

If you feed your alpacas sheep feed and they don’t show any negative reactions to it, then you can use it to build their energy and protein levels before their natural diet is back.

In essence, they can have it everyday. 

Can Baby Alpacas Eat Sheep Feed?

Before feeding sheep to baby alpacas, check to ensure that you are feeding them with the right mixture which will help them grow and develop.

Different sheep feeds are prepared for types of sheep from pregnant and lactating ewes to lambs, and sheep which are being maintained.

Before feeding a sheep feed mix to a cria, ensure the mix has the necessary nutrients that the baby alpaca requires.

Baby alpacas can start eating grasses and feed within their first month while also getting milk from their mother.

Can Alpacas Eat Sheep Pellets?

Sheep feed pellets are sheep feed made in pellet form which are often easier to feed to sheep as all the ingredients have been mixed and prepared together.

It is most often a complete ration and it ensures they get a balanced diet as the sheep cannot pick out the parts of the feed they like while leaving others.

Alpacas can eat sheep pellets as they are basically sheep feed prepared in a different format and this way, the animals can easily get all their nutrition from the feed.

Can Alpacas Eat Sheep Grains?

Sheep grain include wheat, barley, oats, sorghum and maize to mention a few which are fed to sheep or mixed with their feed to supplement foraging from pastures and hay.

Feeding grains to ruminants like sheep is usually a controversial issue in livestock farming as they are more likely to experience digestive problems such as acidosis and enterotoxaemia when they overfeed on grains.

Alpacas can eat sheep grains however this should be minimal and they should have more forage than grains in their diet to avoid digestive issues and bloating.

A cup of grains each day is quite okay for the alpacas.

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

Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Sheep Feed?

Sheep feed, although safe for alpacas to eat, is prepared with sheep nutritional requirements in mind.

Different sheep feed mixes are prepared for different categories of sheep and this should also be taken into consideration when feeding it to alpacas.

Alpacas also have different feed requirements depending on their growth level. A pregnant alpaca for example usually requires more protein. 

Also, sheep grains should be fed to alpacas in very minimal amounts except when needed as alpacas are very prone to bloating and other digestive issues that can come from eating sweet grain and other starchy foods.

How Can I Feed Sheep Feed To Alpacas?

Sheep feed is usually poured into the alpacas eating trough so it is easy for them to get too.

Pellet feed can also be poured into their crib and that should usually come after foraging on available pasture.

Conclusion

Sheep feed is safe for alpacas to eat as they do not have any negative ingredients.

Sheep and alpacas feed mostly on pasture and they can get almost all their nutrition needs from that.

Pasture can sometimes be scarce however such as during winter and feed has to come in during this period.

Sheep feed provides livestock with important nutrients such as energy, crude protein essential minerals and vitamins.

When feeding sheep feed to alpacas, ensure that you get the right mix for the right category of alpacas as different v=categories have different nutritional needs.

Written by 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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