Feed and Nutrition

  • Alpaca Pastures in Wisconsin

    Centuries ago, the Inca began raising alpacas for their soft and luxurious fleece. They pastured their animals in the lowland meadows and marshlands called bofedales, at an elevation of about 4,000 feet above sea level. The alpaca’s native region has a very short growing season with 75% of the rainfall between December and March. During the dry season (May to October), native forage has relatively low nutritional value. Fortunately, alpacas are well adapted to this cycle of feast and famine. In fact, the primary feeding-related problem among North American alpacas is obesity. more »
  • Blood Mineral, Trace-Element and Vitamin Concentrations in Huacaya Alpacas and Merino Sheep Grazing the Same Pasture

    We aimed to determine whether the concentration of minerals and trace constituents in blood of Merino sheep and Huacaya alpacas grazing the same pasture differed with species and time of sampling. Blood samples and pasture samples were collected at frequent intervals over a period of 2 years for mineral and trace-nutrient assay. The concentration of the minerals and trace nutrients in the grazed pasture usually met the dietary needs of sheep at maintenance, apart from potassium, sulfur, cobalt and Vitamin E in occasional samples. Restricted maximum likelihood mixed model analysis indicated a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by year interaction for all blood constituents assayed, a significant (P < 0.05) species by coat shade interaction for plasma Vitamin D, E and B12 and a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by Vitamin D interaction for plasma phosphorus concentrations. In general, plasma calcium concentrations were greater in sheep than in alpacas but plasma magnesium concentrations were greater in alpacas than in sheep. There was no consistent difference between the two species in plasma phosphorus concentrations although low values were recorded in individual sheep and alpacas. Plasma Vitamin D concentrations were more responsive to increasing hours of sunlight in alpacas than they were in sheep. Sheep had consistently higher concentrations of plasma copper, zinc and Vitamin B12 and higher concentrations of blood selenium but lower concentrations of plasma selenium and Vitamin A, than did alpacas. No consistent difference was observed between the two species in plasma Vitamin E concentrations. more »
  • Botanical Composition and Nutritional Quality of Alpaca Diets in Two Andean Rangeland Communities

    Our objectives were to measure alpaca (Lama pacos) diet quality and botanical composition seasonally on 2 high elevation range-sites (bofedal and Altiplano) in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The bofedal site was a perennially green sedge and forb community located at 5,000 m elevation. The Altiplano site, located at 3,190 m, was predominately bunchgrass. We collected diets from free-ranging, esophageally fistulated alpacas at each site. Alpaca diets at both sites were highest in grasses during the wet and early dry season. As the dry season progressed, bofedal alpaca diets were comprised largely of sedges and reeds (78%) while Altiplano diets remained predominantly grasses (68%). Forb consumption varied annually between 8 and 29% of the diet on both sites. Crude protein (CP) in bofedal diets (12.3%) averaged higher than on the Altiplano (10.2%). Values were lowest during August (6.1%) on the Altiplano and in July (8.0%) on the bofedal. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of alpaca diets on the bofedal (63%) was similar to the Altiplano site (64%) when averaged for all seasons. IVOMD was lowest during August (49%) at the Altiplano site and in October (50%) on the bofedal. Low dietary CP and IVOMD during the late dry season (Aug.-Oct.) denote this period as nutritionally critical for both sites. more »
  • Certificate No. 52881-B

    The mineral content of barley sprouts more »
  • Certificate of Analysis

    Test results for barley and mixed fodder. more »
  • Comparison of Cottonseed Hulls, Rice Mill Feed, Soybean Hulls and Beet Pulp as Roughages

    Intake and digestibility of dry matter (DM) and acid-detergent fiber (ADF) of cottonseed hulls, rice mill feed, soybean hulls and beet pulp by mature crossbred wethers was measured. Intake and DM and ADF digestibility of rice mill feed were the lowest. The data indicate that soybean hulls and/or beet pulp would be much better alternative roughages to cottonseed hulls to decrease the energy density of grain fed free-choice to stocker cattle on pasture. more »
  • Does Hydroponic Forage Production Make Sense?

    There are some things that are attractive at first look, but fall apart upon analysis. Maybe like that fancy car you bought which needed major work 3 weeks after you drove it off the lot. Hydroponic fodder systems may fall into that category. There are a number of systems available on the web promoting this concept (try Googling ‘hydroponic fodder’ or ‘hydroponic grass’ on the web – there are plenty of sites). Looks good? Who could think of a better forage for your animal than luscious sprouted leafy grain—just like the alfalfa sprouts on your sandwich! You can see videos on the web which show cattle and horses gobbling up sprouted grain like a vegetarian at a salad bar. But things are not always as they seem! Let’s see if this concept makes sense. more »
  • Dry Season Forage Selection by Alpacas in Southern Peru

    Two hundred eighty adult female alpacas (Lama pacos) and 200 tui alpacas (young alpacas 3-7 months of age) were grazed on a Festuca-Calamagrostis association at the South American Camelids Research Station, La Raya, Peru, during the dry season and early wet season of 1981 (June-December). Vegetation was sampled monthly during this period for herbage yield by species. Fecal material from both adult female alpaca and tui alpaca was collected monthly for microhistological analyses of food habits. Alpacas were primarily grazers rather than forb eaters during the dry season and early wet period of 1981. Forage classes consumed were different for adult and tui alpaca. Tui alpaca consumed more grass-like plants and forbs than adults during the driest months. Diet indices revealed the following as highly selected, common forage species: Eleocharis albibracteata, Poa. sp., Calamagrostis heterophylla, C. vicunarum, Alchemilla pinnata, Muhlenbergia fastigiata, and Carex spp. Highly selected, trace species were P. gymnantha, M. peruviana, Stipa brachiphylla, Ranunculus limoselloides, and Trifolium amabile. Festuca dolichophylla had been considered by range managers as highly preferred species overall. However, because it was the most abundant species (73% of the total forage yield), F. dolichophylla had a low selection index during the dry season. Alpacas consumed remarkable quantities of grass seeds (up to 20% of the diet) during the driest months of the year, apparently compensating for low quality forage. more »
  • Feeding Behaviour of South American Camelids

    South American camelids are ruminants in the strict sense of the word that is they chew a cud but there are some important differences especially in the digestive anatomy and physiology between camelids and true ruminants. The forestomach system of true ruminants like sheep, are three independent hollow organs (rumen, reticulum and omasum) with the attached glandular stomach (abomasum) (von Engelhardt and Breves, 2005; Loeffler and Gäbel, 2013). In contrast, camelids have only three distinct compartments (C1, C2 and C3) associated with the foregut and stomach (Vallenas et al., 1971). The first two compartments (C1 and C2) and the first four-fifths of the third compartment (C3) are representative of the reticulorumen and have the function of a fermentation chamber hosting a microbiological flora and fauna. The last fifth of the elongated tubular C3 is similar to the glandular stomach (abomasum) of true ruminants (Wang et al., 2000). To digest the cellulose, fibre and dry matter (DM) of their feed, both species (true ruminants and South American camelids) are dependent on these microbiological flora and fauna in their foreguts and compartments (Van Saun, 2006; Gauly et al., 2011). Ruminating animals have developed a speciality for digesting feed rich in celluloses (von Engelhardt and Breves, 2005; Van Saun, 2006). The camelids flora exhibits a higher level of activity, which may be the reason to a greater digestive efficiency (San Martin, 1987; Dulphy et al., 1997; Sponheimer et al., 2003). Tichit and Genin (1997) found in an in sacco dry matter digestibility study that the digestibility was indeed higher in llamas than in sheep. Therefore, the best symbiotic relationship between microbial population and host animal is found in the South American camelids (Cebra et al., 2014). It can be concluded that a combination of greater degree of degradability coupled with an increased microbial yield provides llamas and alpacas with an increased advantage in dealing with coarse, low quality feed compared to other ruminants and herbivores (Van Saun, 2006). Another difference between true ruminants and South American camelids is the size of their gastrointestinal tract and the particulate outflow rate. These camelids have smaller stomach compartments and a slower particulate outflow rate (San Martin, 1987). This slower outflow rate will lead to a longer retaining time of the food particles and in a longer fermentation time in the camelid foregut than in the ruminant one (Heller et al., 1986; Dulphy et al., 1994). The hydrolysis of cell wall components by certain microbial enzymes is working all in all slowly; hence, the time in which the ingesta is available for the microbes is very important for the efficiency of the digestion (von Engelhardt and Breves, 2005). Another outstanding anatomy feature of South American camelids is the specific upper lip. It is adjusted to select the better parts of the feed. Smaller than the lower lip it is divided by a median groove. Both lips are more mobile than the ones from other herbivores, what allows a high selective ability (Cebra et al., 2014). All the differences in anatomy and physiology of the digestive tract between South American camelids and true ruminants may influence the DM-intake (DMI) and the selective behaviour of the different animals, which may require a different feeding approach for the camelids. more »
  • From Seed to Feed in 8 Days: Barley Fodder Sprouting Trials

    This Spring we are exploring an alternative to how we are feeding our herd (and chickens too!) The idea comes from the notion of fresh sprouts as a “superfood”; if eating sprouts are super healthy for humans, then wouldn’t that also be true for animals? As we are finding out, it sure is! more »
  • Greening Up in Winter with Gib Acid is a Smart Move

    Agronomists are urging graziers to consider gibberellic acid as a boost for their pasture growth in the cold months as many move out of cropping, seeking livestock cashflow. The data is in on the benefits of applying gib acid after trials in the Central Tablelands. It is found to be effective on boosting growth in grasses such as phalaris, cocksfoot and perennial rye, with the boost in dry matter between 300-500kg/hectare possible after application. Agronomist Jesh Smith, Growmore, Young, said gib acid was "a cheap way to get feed". "It is a natural hormone that helps a plant grow bigger cells and therefore bigger leaves." He said the cost of gib acid was about $10/ha, and so it was the "best bang for buck" in winter as the temperatures dropped and pastures were under pressure. He recommended a three to four week holding period. more »
  • Guide to Moisture Content of Hay

    Heating is most likely to damage hay stored at moistures above 30%. Minimum changes occur if it is baled at 20% or less although if it is uniformly dry it can be baled and stored safely at 25%. The 25% level is the average moisture in curing hay at which it is dry enough overall to avoid moulding or hot spots that occur with variations in moisture content that are usually at higher average moisture. Large square bales need to be baled at a lower moisture content than small square or round bales. more »
  • How to Take Fodder Samples for Analysis

    The accuracy of fodder analysis depends on the sample you send to the laboratory. It is critical that the sample represents the average composition of the "lot" of fodder sampled, otherwise the laboratory tests will not be useful. A "lot" is defined as hay or silage taken from the same cutting, at the same stage of maturity, the same species (pure or mixed) and variety, the same paddock, and harvested within 48 hours. Other factors influencing the definition of a "lot" include rain damage, weed content, soil type, treatment after cutting and storage effects. A "lot" of baled hay or cubes should not exceed 200 tonnes. more »
  • Hydroponic Fodder Systems for Dairy Cattle?

    There is renewed interest in hydroponic fodder systems for dairy, livestock or poultry operations. The thought of putting one pound of seed into a hydroponic system producing 10 times its weight in fodder is appealing. However, the actual dry matter weight of the original grain to the fodder produced may or may not increase. Research reviews are very inconsistent in any dry matter production or animal performance benefits. The aim of this analysis is to assist producers weigh the high production costs of hydroponic fodder systems relative to any real or perceived nutritional benefits gained from feeding hydroponic fodder. more »
  • Impact of Mycotoxins and of a Mycotoxin Deactivator on Alpacas Grazing Perennial Ryegrass Infected with Wild Endophyte (Neotyphodium spp.)

    Liveweight gain, animal health and the effectiveness of a mycotoxin deactivator were studied on an old pasture that contained 61% perennial ryegrass. Sixty-seven percent of the ryegrass population was infected with endophyte (Neotyphodium spp.). The pasture was fenced into two halves and two groups of 28 alpaca male weaners were rotated between the two plots. Nine to 10 Suris and 18–19 Huacayas were allocated to each group. One group was fed a concentrate supplement (100 g/head per day) and the other was fed the same supplement to which was added the toxin deactivator, Mycofix® Plus (5 g/100 g). Mean liveweight gain on the low-quality pasture over late summer and early autumn was not significantly (P > 0.05) different between the groups. For the control group it was 41 g/day but individual rates of gain ranged from 67 to 0 g/day, depending on the severity of signs of perennial ryegrass toxicosis (r = 0.82, P < 0.001). Liveweight gain was independent of neurotoxic signs in the Mycofix® Plus treated group. Ergovaline concentration in perennial ryegrass varied from 0.43 to a peak in early autumn (March) of 1.05 mg/kg. Mean urine lysergol alkaloid concentration peaked in mid-summer (January) at 109 ng/mg creatinine (control group) and was consistently lower in the Mycofix® Plus group, although the difference approached significance (P = 0.06) only in March. Lolitrem B concentration in perennial ryegrass varied from 0.78 to 1.57 mg/kg. Neurotoxic signs in alpacas were observed throughout the study and peaked in early autumn, coinciding with peak lolitrem B concentration; at this time, 84% of alpacas exhibited neurotoxic signs. Over the 145-day study, the Mycofix® Plus treated group exhibited a lower mean rating of perennial ryegrass toxicosis signs (P < 0.05). Variation in liveweight gain and signs of toxicosis were not associated with significant differences in liver enzyme activity. more »
  • Key to Managing Springtime Weeds in Seedling Alfalfa Stands: Patience

    Yikes, my weed control didn't work! It's springtime and you're looking at your seedling alfalfa field that you planted late last fall. You have a great stand, but you're not quite satisfied with the level of weed control despite an earlier herbicide application. You still see weeds out there, including bristly oxtongue, thistles, mustard, dandelion, and fiddleneck. You know that weed infestations can weaken young alfalfa plants, retard growth, delay the first cutting, reduce quality, and result in long term damage to crop yield and stand persistence. The field is still a seedling stand, considered as such until at least the first hay cutting (around the 6-9 leaf stage and a crown is forming). The plants in your stand are only 3-6 inches tall and you see some new, late germinating seedlings that you want to keep, perhaps delayed by the lack of rain and long, dry, cold spell last winter. The field is not Roundup Ready and you're looking for some post-emergent herbicide options. What should you use? more »
  • Managing Alfalfa Hay During Heat Waves

    Dog gone it's hot! This is expected in our Central Valley at this time of year, but when heat waves hit, it's important to be prepared with good irrigation management practices in alfalfa hay production. Can alfalfa tolerate extreme heat? The short answer is 'yes'. Alfalfa is originally from the Middle Eastern regions of Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia, so it is well adapted to hot, dry conditions. It's also routinely grown in the hot deserts of Arizona, Southern California and Mexico. more »
  • Managing Hay After it Rains

    "Murphy’s Law says that Once you’ve baled your hay it will rain!” says Frank Mickan, Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist, NRE, Ellinbank. Many farmers are starting to realise the benefits of feeding or selling higher quality hay in recent years because they have learnt that higher quality means more meat or milk production. As a result some farmers are risking making slightly earlier hay and so increasing the risk of meeting rain head on! However earlier hay making can be greatly assisted by utilising mower conditioners and tedders. Unfortunately the higher the quality is the hay, the higher the losses when bales become wet from rain. This higher quality is due to the higher amount energy (eg. water soluble carbohydrates) and protein in the plant. When hay becomes wet plant respiration, leaching, and possibly mould, microbial and yeast growth later on, all result in dry matter and quality losses. So rain damage is to be avoided or minimised as much as possible Following are some considerations which may be of assistance to you. more »
  • Methane Emission by Alpaca and Sheep Fed on Lucerne Hay or Grazed on Pastures of Perennial Ryegrass/White Clover or Birdsfoot Trefoil

    Based on the knowledge that alpaca (Lama pacos) have a lower fractional outflow rate of feed particles (particulate FOR) from their forestomach than sheep (San Martin 1987), the current study measured methane (CH4) production and other digestion parameters in these species in three successive experiments (1, 2 and 3): Experiment 1, lucerne hay fed indoors; Experiment 2, grazed on perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture (PRG/WC); and Experiment 3, grazed on birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) pasture (Lotus). Six male alpaca and six castrated Romney sheep were simultaneously and successively fed on the forages either ad libitum or at generous herbage allowances (grazing). CH4 production (g/day) (using the sulphur hexafluoride tracer technique), voluntary feed intake (VFI), diet quality, and protozoa counts and volatile fatty acid concentrations in samples of forestomach contents were determined. In addition, feed digestibility, energy and nitrogen (N) balances and microbial N supply from the forestomach (using purine derivatives excretion) were measured in Experiment 1. Diets selected by alpaca were of lower quality than those selected by sheep, and the voluntary gross energy intakes (GEI, MJ) per kg of liveweight0·75 were consistently lower (P0·05) in their CH4 yields (% GEI) when fed on lucerne hay (5·1 v. 4·7), but alpaca had a higher CH4 yield when fed on PRG/WC (9·4 v. 7·5, P more »
  • Nutrition

    Fodder Solutions barley sprouts have been tested at every stage of growth. The peak spectrum of nutrients are available at the 6 day growth stage, this is when the barley sprouts are harvested. The nutritional breakdown of the barley sprouts shows that the sprouts are very high in energy and protein and contain sufficient of these to meet the needs of most stock. Barley grass is considered the most nutritional of the green grasses containing an abundance of nutrients unsurpassed by any other type of grass. The benefits of fresh green feed such as barley grass have been well documented over the past 50 years. Barley grass has shown to increase the overall health of the animal through better digestion of the hay and grain. While overall wellness is the most noted result, studies indicate improved performance results in other areas as well. Not only will animals be healthier but also they will experience: Greater energy and vitality Stimulates the immune response Reduction in antinutritional factors Antioxidant properties Independent research studies have been conducted by qualified academic institutes that prove the value of using barley grass. These studies show that barley grass is both beneficial to livestock and cost effective as a substitute for the traditional fodder supplements. more »
  • Over Coming our Hay Feeding Dilemma

    Over these past few years we have always had problems with feeding hay to our alpacas. We started by feeding Lucerne at times when the girls needed something extra. They would pick through the Lucerne, nibble the leaves off the storks and leave the storks on the ground, which I would then have to then pick up and throw on the garden for mulch. While the hay was on the ground they would also take great delight in rolling in it, to show me just how much they could get into their fleece. more »
  • Productivity and Nutritive Value of Barley Green Fodder Yield in Hydroponic System

    Barley grain was sprouted in a still hydroponic growing chamber for 6, 7 and 8 day periods and sampled for chemical analyses, protein fractions,in vitro digestion and metabolisable energy (ME) determination. Productivity measured on the basis of the input-output balance of barley grain and GF yield. Results showed that CP, Ash, EE, NDF, ADF and water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) were increased whereas OM and non fiber carbohydrate (NFC) decreased (p < 0.05) in the GF when compared with the original grain. As the growing period extended from day 6 to day 8, the CP, Ash, EE, NDF and ADF were increased but NFC and WSC reduced (p < 0.05). The non protein nitrogen was increased but true protein decreased (p < 0.05) in GF in comparison to barley grain, however no differences was shown among the growing periods for protein fractions. The potential (b) and rate (c) of in vitro gas production shown a decreasing trend (p < 0.05) by sprouting the barley grain up to 8 days. The amount of OM and ME of GF, obtained per kg of cultivated barley grain, were lower than those of the original grain. more »
  • Putting Weight on Thin Alpacas

    Some alpacas are able to keep their weight at good levels on a diet of fresh grass and grass hay. Older alpacas and females with crias are more incline to get skinny on the same diet. In times of no grass and with winter approaching, it is important to put a bit of weight on thin alpacas. more »
  • Quality and Quantity of Sorghum Hydroponic Fodder from Different Varieties and Harvest Time

    This experiment was designed to compare different varieties and harvest time of sorghum hydroponic fodder based on nutrient content and biomass production. Experimental design for fodder productivity was completely randomized design with 2 x 3 factorial, i.e., sorghum varieties (KD 4 and Super-1) and time of harvesting the sorghum hydroponic fodder (8, 12 and 16 d). Total biomass and DM production, were affected significantly (p < 0.05) on harvest time. Total biomass and nutrient content were increased in longer harvest time. The nutrient content were increased with decreasing total value of DM. Super-1 varieties harvested at 12 d had a good quality of fodder and it can be alternative of technology providing quality forage and land saving with a short time planting period and continuous production. more »
  • Random Genetic Drift

    Last week’s post on The Hardy-Weinberg Equlibrium and its Implications covered the five external forces that shift that equilibrium to cause a change in gene and genotypic frequencies: selection; gene mutations; migration in and out of a population; random genetic drift; and non-random matings. Three of these are controllable by breeders and routinely applied in breeding programmes: selection; migration in and out; and non-random matings. The other two — gene mutations and random genetic drift — are completely random forces beyond anyone’s control, and patterns of inheritance are ultimately down to the sheer chance of gene segregation during meiosis and ‘luck of the draw’. Gene mutations are extremely rare events and, should they even occur at all, are as likely to have good, bad or indifferent effects . Any mutation that does appear is most likely to be of a single allele, as the chance of two or more mutations occurring simultaneously, much less being inherited together, is even more remote. Such an allele, or any other rare allele for that matter, may then be subject to that other random force: random genetic drift. more »
  • Sprouted Barley Fodder Fact Sheet

    A fact sheet on sprouted barley. more »
  • Storing Hay Properly

    Hay is made to feed livestock in periods of forage dormancy. Many times hay is packaged in the form of a big round bale. This method of harvest is preferred by many farmers because of low labor needs and little need for facilities or infrastructure to feed the hay. One of the largest downfalls to hay in the round bale form is the weathering that occurs when the bales are stored outside. The round shape of the bale results in a large surface area on the outside of the bale for weathering to occur. The figure below illustrates that 1/3 of the entire bale resides in the outer 6" of a 5.5 foot bale. more »
  • Take the Guess Work Out of Feeding Livestock by Testing Feed Quality

    Drought-hit producers are being reminded to be aware of what they are feeding their stock. Recent testing has shown huge variability in protein and energy levels which has meant some stock could be continuing to lose condition, despite hand feeding. Central Tablelands Local Land Services officer, Brett Littler, Mudgee, is urging producers to take the guesswork out of what they are feeding by testing. “We have seen metabolisable energy ranging in some hays from 5.6 megajoules per kilogram, which is below maintenance, through to 10MJ/kg, which is really good feed,” Mr Littler said. “Similarly, protein variations can be seen from 16 per cent through to below the level of reporting, some is very low quality with less than two pc protein. more »
  • The DIY (Do It Yourself) Alpaca Feeding System

    The DIY (do it yourself) alpaca feeding program includes: - Regular body scoring, two to four times a year - Weaning most males off of pelleted supplements (including crumbles) - Use of simple, pre-formulated one- to-three ingredient protein/energy supplements - Substitution of locally purchased mineral mix for pricier specialty mixes - Daily and preventive use of probiotics to keep animals healthy and reduce vet bills more »
  • The Guts of Alpaca Nutrition: Understanding Energy and Protein Metabolism

    Alpacas are unique animals in terms of their digestive capabilities and energy and protein metabolism. Nutritional information pertaining to alpacas has been extrapolated from data based on true ruminant nutritional requirements and is therefore inaccurate and misleading for alpaca producers. The general hypothesis tested in this thesis was that alpacas would be better at utilising feedstuffs and be more efficient at obtaining glucose and amino acids that are essential for both maintenance and fibre production than sheep. Two experiments in this thesis (Chapters 3 and 5) evaluated the potential of using undegradable dietary protein (UDP) in alpaca diets as a means of optimising fibre growth. Chapter 4 of this thesis reports a training method and the design of a special metabolism pen for alpacas which was developed to conduct the experiments described in Chapters 5 and 7. The next experiment (Chapter 6) determined whether alpacas could utilise calcium propionate as a source of glucose. The last experiment (Chapter 7) examined how intakes of different proportions of energy and protein influenced nitrogen metabolism in alpacas compared to sheep. The hypothesis tested in Chapter 3 was that alpacas fed a diet containing canola meal high in UDP to meet maintenance requirements would produce more fibre and spend less time urinating than peers fed a similar amount of canola meal with a low proportion as UDP. Alpacas were fed diets of similar metabolisable energy (ME) content at a level calculated to maintain body weight with the following ratios of UDP: rumen degradable dietary protein (RDP); 0:100 (0% UDP), 30:70 (30% UDP), 60:40 (60% UDP) or 100:0 (100% UDP) from canola meal protein. The fibre characteristics of the alpacas were analysed to determine whether fibre production was affected by the different proportions of UDP in the diet. The behaviour of the alpacas in the 100% and 0% UDP protein groups was also monitored. The alpacas fed the 0% UDP diet produced fibre of finer diameter than the alpacas fed diets containing higher levels of UDP, but the 0% UDP group spent more time urinating. This suggests that when fed RDP, which should increase the ammonia concentration in the fermentative organs, the excess ammonia is converted to urea in the liver and excreted in urine. Thus the proportion of dietary protein as RDP may influence the pathways of nitrogen metabolism in alpacas. In light of the results from Chapter 3, the experiment in Chapter 5 aimed to determine if protein degradability influenced nitrogen retention or energy balance and whether alpacas utilise nitrogen more efficiently than sheep. It was hypothesised that alpacas fed a diet containing RDP in the form of canola meal would excrete more nitrogen than those fed UDP and, that alpacas fed the same diet as sheep at maintenance would retain more nitrogen. Alpacas and sheep were fed the same diets as used in the experiment for Chapter 3 while they were housed in metabolism pens. Nitrogen and energy balances were measured to determine whether alpacas metabolised nitrogen more efficiently than sheep and whether protein degradability influenced the ability of alpacas to retain nitrogen. The degradability of the protein in the diet did not influence the amount of nitrogen retained in either species and both the sheep and the alpacas retained similar amounts of nitrogen. However, the alpacas tended to retain less nitrogen as a percentage of the nitrogen absorbed from their food than did sheep fed the same diet. The results suggested that sheep and alpacas probably obtain their energy from different components of their food and utilise protein in different ways. In Chapter 6, the ability of alpacas to spare amino acids for fibre growth by utilising a gluconeogenic precursor was determined. It was hypothesised that alpacas supplemented with calcium propionate would produce more fine fibre than un-supplemented animals. Although the diets supplemented with calcium propionate should have provided more energy, the ME intake of all animals was similar. It appears that rather than sparing amino acids, the alpacas regulated their energy intake by refusing to consume additional energy as calcium propionate. Whether alpacas do moderate their energy intake and prefer to utilise protein as their source of glucose for maintenance was examined in Chapter 7. It was hypothesised that irrespective of their energy intake, alpacas would progressively retain more nitrogen as their intake of dietary protein increased. Conversely, it was expected that sheep would retain less nitrogen than alpacas when their intake of dietary protein increased because they rely on gluconeogenic precursors such as propionate, rather than protein, to meet their energy requirement. The alpacas responded to the dietary treatments in a similar manner to sheep by retaining a similar proportion of the dietary nitrogen that they absorbed. However, there was a trend for the alpacas to retain more of the absorbed nitrogen than the sheep when fed a diet that provided almost twice their maintenance requirement of protein. There was some evidence to suggest that alpacas do not regulate their protein intake as they appear to do with their energy intake. The results from these studies have shown that alpacas obtain glucose for energy predominantly from the protein component of their diet as part of an adaptation to the harsh conditions of their native environment. Our understanding of the ability of alpacas to metabolise energy and nitrogen, compared to sheep, will enable producers to be informed of appropriate ways in which to feed their animals to promote productive and reproductive efficiency. more »
  • Undegradable Dietary Protein in Alpaca Diets Affects Fibre Diameter and Time Spent Urinating

    There is evidence that alpacas derive most of their glucose for energy from the deamination of amino acids. Consequently, they may have an insufficient supply of amino acids to meet their requirements for fibre growth. To optimise fibre production, it may be necessary to supply alpacas with supplemental protein to meet their requirement for extra amino acids. In this study, we examined if the proportion of rumen-degradable dietary protein (RDP) to undegradable dietary protein (UDP) from canola meal influenced the fibre growth of alpacas. We hypothesised that alpacas fed at maintenance a diet containing canola meal protein high in UDP would produce more fibre and spend less time urinating than peers fed a similar amount of canola meal protein with a low proportion of UDP. Four groups of eight alpacas were fed diets with the following ratios of UDP : RDP: 0 : 100, 30 : 70, 60 : 40 or 100 : 0 from canola meal protein. The fibre growth of the animals was measured over 2 months and the behaviour of the animals in the two extreme groups (0 and 100% UDP) was measured over 5 days. The alpacas fed the 0% UDP diet produced fibre of finer diameter than the alpacas fed diets containing higher levels of UDP (P = 0.039) and the 0% UDP group also spent more time urinating (P = 0.027). This result suggests that alpacas may have a limited ability to recycle nitrogen to the fermentative chambers of their stomach when fed a diet low in UDP. Consequently, microbial protein synthesis in the fermentative chambers may have limited the supply of amino acids available to the alpacas. more »
  • Willsons to Test Merit of Trace Mineral Injections

    “This aims to identify whether or not the use of Multimin increases the efficacy of the vaccination program,” he said. “A trial such as this has only been done a handful of times.” They will also be looking into whether there is an increase in fertility from using Multimin pre-joining in crossbred ewes. Mr Willson hopes to see whether a dollar value can be placed on using Multimin in terms of response and the increase in production. “I am always interested in the dollars and cents of the products. I am interested in seeing if it works and if we can put a dollar value on using Multimin within our flock,” he said. He said the immunology trial will commence later in the year while the crossbred fertility trial kicks off in the spring joining period. more »

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