• 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 »

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