Alpacas and hay



Flash, our pretty rose grey female

Flash, our pretty rose grey female

We just got our alpacas on-site a year ago in November.  I thought it would never happen. We find our place, move , get barn and pasture set up and then get the alpacas moved down from Ohio and Nebraska. I am a little out of order on this, because we actually had an opportunity to get them all moved down at once and then boarded nearby until we were ready for them.  And after moving here and before getting the animals, we had our daughter graduate from college, our daughter get married, and our son get married (already graduated from college), all in less than a year.  Whewwww; I am glad we are past all that stress. Now moving on to a different kind of stress.

My husband and I have not lived on a farm/ranch.  We had relatives who did, and I delighted in visiting my paternal grandparents in Stafford, Oklahoma at their farm.  As a child I was not aware that an outhouse and a pitcher pump at the kitchen sink were in any way a hardship.  The old handcrank phone on the wall still meant  relying on how many rings  to know if the call was yours or someone else’s on the partyline. No airconditioning, and the only heat from a gas stove in the living room. Sleeping on the small screened in porch in summer was delightful but scary as the coyotes howled. I loved hearing and seeing the train whistle down the track nearby and jackrabbits run and jump out of the way. Feeding the minnows in the cows stock tank dry  oatmeal so they would come up to the surface scrambling for a morsel. Helping feed chickens, holding new chicks, gather eggs,  or gather sweet corn. To a kid from the city it is heaven.  I loved the outdoors and dirt and bugs didn’t bother me a bit.   So, we bought our own bit of heaven on 104 acres in northeast Texas.

So now we have our barns and pastures, and our animals living here for just over a year.  Learning to care for the animals is a learning curve; you never really stop learning.  We were lucky that the previous owners had all  pastures in grass for their bison.  The 3 acres we fenced in with alpaca friendly fencing (the other acres are cross fenced  in barbed wire), I was not sure what was planted there.  I took a handful of grass in to the USDA office and she identified it as brome, which is just fine for alpaca grazing.  During the winter we buy small hay bales for them to eat. Usually a flake a day per animal works out about right.   As the grasses come in I cut back on how much hay is put out.  Luckily, our neighbor across the road is a full time hay grower and has really nice coastal Bermuda, which is a preferred hay for alpacas in this area.  He owns and rents several large areas of land  and has multiple locations for his hay storage.  We just have to drive across the road to get ours.  How lucky for us. The alpacas love it and the chickens like to scrounge around in it for hiding crickets and bugs and grass seed heads.img_0013

The local co-op manager (another neighbor) had a new product in his store called Chaffhaye.  It is used in place of hay.  He gave me a sample package. the alpacas were not too fond of it; I mixed it in with their evening feed.  They kept rotating among feed dishes trying to find one without any in it. I have added a little bit every so often in their evening feed and they have become familiar with the taste.  I will maybe keep some on hand to mix in regularly.  It is supposed to be better for the animal as it is alfalfa hay mixed with molasses to encourage better digestion and is compressed and bagged so it is easy to transport and no mess.  Alfalfa can create various issues for alpacas so I will not feed it full strength at this point.  But it is a handy source to have as a backup and extra treat for them.


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