Alpaca Nutrition News
Treating thin/underweight females
Improving an underweight female's diet in an
attempt to increase weight gain is more effective during certain stages of
gestation or lactation. Body scoring should be done in the first two months of lactation.
This allows the owner adequate time to recoup weight lost during early lactation
before the delivery of the next cria. A long lead time is especially
necessary if females score 3 or below (on a scale on 1 - 10) at 2 months
post-partum. Ruthanne McCaslin, D.V.M. recommends holding off re-breeding
for 6 - 12 months if the female scores below 4. An alternative is to wean the
cria early to give the dam more time to re-gain weight.
Nutritionally speaking, the female must compete with either the cria
already on the ground or the fetus, depending on stage of gestation. She herself
is way back in line when it comes to apportioning dietary energy during either
pregnancy or lactation. Two stages that take priority are:
Between parturition and about
the first two months, additional dietary energy will go directly
into milk production.
During the third trimester
(approximately the last four months) of gestation , additional dietary energy goes into
The best way to effectively increase
female weight gain is to feed additional energy and protein at approximately two
months after parturition, when the cria has started to consume solid food, and the beginning of the third trimester.
Energy can be in the form of high quality
alfalfa, grain, or molasses. Protein, which is converted to energy in the rumen,
is supplied by high quality alfalfa and soybean meal. Feeding a concentrated
probiotic such as MSE paste or drench increases energy intake AND improves
efficiency of feed utilization. Females that score a 3 or below in early
lactation will have greater potential to be at ideal weight at parturition with
the addition of a probiotic.
A nice energy and protein supplement can be
made with alfalfa meal and/or corn and flax seed. Make sure that a vitamin and
mineral mix is always available when using non-bagged supplements.
Please note: Any change in diet, whether
it is an increase/change in roughage or addition of grain, should be done
gradually. The rumen microflora need about two weeks to adapt to diet
change. It this is not done gradually, the result can be either diarrhea or
MSE probiotics are available at
naturs-way.com. Please send any questions or comments to Lark Burnham, ruminant
nutritionist at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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