Hay! Alpacas Want Hay! – photo & a bit of info


The girls (and all alpacas) spend a lot of time eating.

The girls (and all alpacas) spend a lot of time eating.

Talk to any alpaca owner and you will find someone who has learned a lot about hay, but who wishes they could find some way to keep it off of the animals. Put it high and they will come up underneath; put it low and they will bury their heads. How do you keep hay from getting woven into that lovely fleece? Everyone I know is working on that question.

Additional hay notes: Get enough to get you through the winter or, if you feed on dry lot, to last for quite some time. Alpacas do better if you don’t keep changing their hay. Even though I have a lot of fields, I’ve heard that around the first frost or so the hay just doesn’t have the needed nutrition. I suspect I will need 7-8 tons for my 30 alpacas this winter.

“You want nice, quality hay, a nice grass hay with maybe a bit of alfalfa in it. Orchard grass is nice, but NOT rye grass. There may be some dairy folks around you who have tested their forage, and if so, and you can purchase from them, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what you’re buying. If your supplier has tested their forage, what you’re looking for is protein around 13%-15% and TDN in the 50’s or low 60’s. You want green, leafy hay with as few stems as possible so that you have less waste, and so that the hay is more palatable to the animals.

“You want to store your hay off the ground (pallets are fine). If it sits on bare earth, the vitamins and minerals are leached out of it, plus you have problems with contaminants, molds, etc. It needs to be covered or stored inside.”

Thanks to my mentor for that advice.

Watch out for fescue and grasses frequented by white-tailed deer. How do I find someone to test my hay when my area might not have an Agricultural agent?

Now is the time, before I actually buy my hay, to tell me if I am missing any information. Are there any specifics you use? Are you in the South? My mentor is here in Utah and knows hay in Utah quite well, but what will be different? And those of you in different areas, please add your two cents.

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4 Responses to “Hay! Alpacas Want Hay! – photo & a bit of info”

  1. Kathryn | Alpacamundo Says:

    I just bought hay last week for the first time ever. This was probably the most nerve wracking thing I’ve done so far in our transition to the farm.

    I put together a loose list of priorities and things to think about from my mentors in New Mexico. After I got to Colorado I joined the local Alpaca club… here it’s the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies. There is also a Northern Colorado group that I plan to join.

    I asked a couple of people in ABR who they buy from and checked online. I found a farmer in the next town south that grows specifically for alpaca breeders and did his own testing. So I bought a second cutting of Teff Grass. I’m anxious to find out how the alpacas like the hay.

    • zenasurialpacas Says:

      Wow! Thank you for the info. I’m glad to hear not everyone has it all down immediately and I hope the hay you bought is all you (and the alpacas) want. I feel a little out of it. I plan to join a couple of the local organizations and I hope they can offer insight too.

  2. Barefoot Beachbaby Says:

    I promise not to gloat about growing our own hay. I know we’re lucky to have good hay. My alpacas eat hay all year round, but they are fussy and won’t eat the stemmy stuff, so we trade out the first cutting.

    I see lots of ads on Craig’s List for hay; some even specify the type. You might check that out.

    As for testing, get a hay core borer and take samples from several bales. You can send it off for analysis. That’s what I did.

    Just last week my vet sent a proposal for discussing a health care plan that included hay testing, so perhaps your vet might be a resource for that..?

  3. zenasurialpacas Says:

    Next year we will have hay all over the place. This year we rented our 78 acres to the farmer we bought the property from–we may buy some of it back or find someone else to purchase from this year.

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