I have had the
best luck with feeding, as an occasional treat, a
bit of the same pelleted feed that your animals
normally eat. Any new treats should be
introduced slowly and carefully. In general, I
am not a fan of treats or hand feeding; preferring
to use body work and walks as a way to build a
relationship with my animals.
Alpacas are browsers and love to eat bushes, tree
limbs and various kinds of weeds and shrubs so as
long as you make sure that these kinds of things are
not poisonous you might try them. You might try
making camelid "lasagna" to try to get your alpacas
to try something new. Put what ever it is you want
them to try (i.e. grated carrots in a shallow dish
and put alfalfa leaves on top). This will encourage
your alpacas to get a bit of the new thing in his or
her mouth and perhaps develop a taste for it.
I would like to just offer some general advice about
food. While food is useful as a distraction and an
incentive, it can be easily misused. A few
guidelines will help use food responsibly.
1. Don't use food when you can't control it. For
example I discourage owners from going into a group
of alpacas with a bowl of grain or treats. The
alpacas will argue with each other and you will get
caught in the cross fire. This actually teaches
your alpacas to be disrespectful of you. I
discourage new owners from using food with assertive
alpacas who will practically take your clothes off
to get the food. If you can't control the situation
don't use the food.
2. It isn't fair to lure the animals to you with
food and then punish them for trying to get it. If
it is mayhem when you feed block the animals out of
the barn, deal out the food making sure that you
have plenty of feeder space (10-15 feet between
animals is not too much) and then open the door and
let them into the food.
3. Food does not make alpacas like you. If you
walk in to the pasture with food and you are mobbed
it is not because the alpacas love YOU they love
food and you happen to be holding it. In fact, you
can make points with nervous and tentative animals
by making a big show of putting the food on the
ground instead of insisting that they take it from
your hand. Work at being a trusted and safe
presence and your alpacas will enjoy being around
you when you don't have food... then you have really
4. Absolutely don't use food with overbearing
youngsters who already invade your space and behave
5. Using food effectively for training means
behaving like a slot machine not a coke machine.
Only use the food sporadically as reinforcement and
you won't create "paid employees."