Alpacas must have access to adequate and appropriate water for their age, stage of production and weather conditions.
Automatic waterers are the preferred and most efficient method of providing water to alpacas in paddocks or yards. If this is not possible then adequately sized containers must be provided to ensure adequate quantity and quality is available for the number, age, production level, bodyweight and type of stock, dry matter content of the feed provided and the weather conditions (air temperature, available shelter and humidity).
Alpacas require at least 5 litres of water each per day. During lactation and shortly after weaning, alpacas will have an increased water requirement.
Water medications should be introduced gradually and closely monitored to ensure correct dosage and consumption of adequate water quantity.
Alpacas must have access to adequate and appropriate feed for their age, stage of production and weather conditions.
Quantity and quality of feed should be based on:
- Bodyweight and/or fat/ body condition score
- Extra demands based on growth, pregnancy, lactation and exercise
- Prevailing/predicted weather conditions.
Regular assessment should be made of the needs of the alpacas in relation to the quantity and quality of feed. This can be done by weighing alpacas and using a condition scoring system regularly.
Body scoring of llamas and alpacas
Alpacas are browsing animals that will eat pasture and other vegetation types. They thrive on a high fibre, low protein diet. Although alpacas are larger than sheep, they are more efficient food converters and so require similar feed rations to sheep DSE.
As with most animals kept in schools, alpacas will usually require supplementary feeding due to lack of sufficient grazing opportunity. Alpacas can have their diet supplemented with alpaca pellets, stud mix and lucerne hay. Where there is limited grazing or browsing opportunity, alpacas should have a very regular or constant supply of roughage such as hay, silage or chaff to meet their high fibre needs.
When providing supplementary feeds, the rule is to introduce new food types slowly and carefully, do not feed excessive grains, feed plenty of high quality roughage and feed small amounts at frequent intervals.
Regular monitoring should be carried out to help identify shy feeders and allow for their management before they drop condition.