A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 4, 2008

Sometimes It Pays To Do Things Twice

I’m not a big fan of doing things twice, I would rather something well once and not have to do things again, but sometimes doing things twice is necessary.

Back at the beginning of December we had purchased some hay from one of our regular suppliers.  As is our routine we had the hay analyzed and were surprised to discover that it had very little nutritional value, the crude protein only came in at 6.05%, the Calcium level was very low and the Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) was 35.59 which is very low. 

We were a little surprised that the alpacas seemed to be really enjoying the hay.  With a TDN as low as the hay was showing it should have been unpalatable to the alpacas, but they were tearing into the hay with pleasure. 

Feeding hay at 6.05% protein and nothing else would be a recipe for disaster.  Alpacas really need hay between 10 – 13% protein depending on their needs (i.e. fiber boys need less protein than pregnant girls).  We didn’t want to run into health issues and so fed some other hay as well as the one with the poor analysis, but as we watched the alpacas eating the “poor” hay we couldn’t help but wonder if the analysis was somehow incorrect.

As it was time to put out more big bales we decided that it might be worth our while to have the hay retested.  We are fortunate to have a local company ADM Labs, who can test our hay for us and at the cost of $17 per analysis we felt that it would be money well invested just to put our minds at rest regarding the hay.

So we took core samples of the bales and took them in to the lab for analysis and low and behold the results came back completely different.  The protein level of the hay is actually 11.88 % which will be great for the boys and girls although we will continue giving the girls some higher protein hay as well as most of them are approaching their final trimester of pregnancy.  The new analysis also showed much better Calcium levels, a good Calcium/Phosphorus level and a TDN of 52.89 which is lower than we would like but a lot better than was showing up on the previous analysis.  The Relative Feed Value (RFV) on the new analysis is 83.89, which again is lower than ideal but vast improvement on the 46.49 that was showing up on the previous analysis.

We cannot say for sure what caused the previous poor analysis.  Maybe our sample was not well selected, or maybe there was a glitch in the testing machinery that day.  We have never had a problem with any hay analysis before and so hopefully this was just a one off experience.

We have now breathed a sigh of relief that we have not wasted our money on poor hay and while we still would not normally choose to do something twice on this occasion repeating the analysis was definitely worth doing.

Rosemary

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