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 2. Alpaca Healthcare & Nutrition
 Orchard Grass
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BeachRunFarm

96 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2011 :  6:18:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote


Does anyone know where we can get good Orchard Grass in Virginia or Pennsylvania...we will drive to pick it up. I just cannot feed this stuff to my animals all winter. We are lucky, we can still let them into the pasture all winter; but, what do the rest of you out there do?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I know it was a tough year for hay, but all the farms at the Virginia Show must have found it somewhere...PLEASE help.

I learned one thing the hard way; I will never pay upfront again. We might be able to sell this stuff to the cow farmers, maybe horses...at any rate, it is a great loss monetarily and for our animals.

Thanks!

Patricia Harkness


Edited by - BeachRunFarm on 12/20/2011 12:54:20 PM

jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2011 :  6:37:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Patricia, I'm sorry the hay doesn't meet your expectations - what's wrong with it? Is it moldy? Did it test out poorly?

I just want to assure you that you emphatically do not need to feed orchard grass to have healthy alpacas - in fact, a mixture of grasses is better for them than any single grass. My alpacas vastly prefer their native grass mix up here than any fancy orchard I've ever given them - it may be nutritionally complete, but it's relatively coarse and chewy compared to a lot of other forages. So don't knock yourself out looking for orchard - there are many forages that will keep your alpacas happy and healthy.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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BeachRunFarm

96 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2011 :  9:31:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jill,

This is the second load of orchard grass we have gotten from this broker. The first 100 bales were pretty good. We sent a few cores out for analysis, and it came back very close to what Dr. Evans recommends in his book. So, although it was quite stemy with briars mixed in some of the bales and there was a lot of waste. But, it shook out nicely, and the animals seemed to enjoy it.

This time the flecks within the bale are pressed to tightly I can barely pull them apart; it is loaded with stems and even what looks like wood sticks; much of it looks like straw, has no moisture...etc. I have sent it off to a forage lab for analysis; but, I keep thinking...I would not want to eat this yucky stuff! LOL I have a girl help me occasionally who was raised on a horse farm, and she said she would not even feed it to her horses. So, what to do?

I think we could sell much of it to farmers in the area to defray the cost. I do know that in the first load there were parts of bales which smelled moldy, but we did not get to those until the end of the season. I had about 1/3rd a bale of waste. The chickens love it in their coop, but that is expensive for my chickens to nest in.

What would you recommend? I see you are in Maine. What grasses do you get up there? It seems all the really good grass comes from the cooler northern climates. Perhaps it is not such an issue up there. Our alpacas have fescue in the pasture, and they love it. They also love their hay in the barn; so I want to have both available to them.

Thanks so all your advice! I love Maine, BTW. My daughter lives in Connecticut and they go to Maine to camp a lot...beautiful country. Bar Harbor is one of my all time favorite cities.

Patricia

Patricia
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Heidi-Ho

80 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2011 :  05:52:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Patricia,
Contact the seller first. Many times the seller was not the one who loaded it. Workers will get the wrong hay sometimes. I have had this problem 2x and both times it was made right. One time the hay was picked up, the other time (Cow Hay), I paid for the freight.

I know how disappointing it is and very scary to get in poor quality hay at this point in time.

Hope this works out.

Heidi

Celestine Ridge Alpacas
Greenville, NC
www.celestineridgealpacas.com
jkilroy@greenvillenc.com
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2011 :  06:46:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Patricia, if you have Norm Evans' manual, he has a nice section that covers many of the forage grasses. They really do vary across the country - I know that my fields have timothy, switchgrass, bluegrass, some orchard, red fescue and a bunch I haven't identified. The specific grasses don't matter as much as the analysis - and whether your alpacas will eat it! Second cutting usually has less waste than first, since there are more leaves than stems. Orchard grass is probably the most commonly sought after alpaca hay, but if you're having trouble getting it, you can probably find alternatives that will do as well.

Having said that, there are some grasses to avoid. Alfalfa should not be a staple, as it is generally too high in protein. Clovers can cause digestive problems if they make up more than 5-10% of the hay or pasture. Tall fescues contain endophytes which can cause reproductive issues in pregnant females - either causing them to abort or to have difficulty conceiving. Reed canarygrass can have a high alkaloid content (and the alpacas just don't like it, period). There are probably others, but this is what's coming to mind.

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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BeachRunFarm

96 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2011 :  1:01:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Heidi! You are correct. I need to be upfront with them regarding this issue. I will probably send her an email. Thanks for the input. I sent you and email too. You are great! Have a wonderful Christmas

Jill,

Good thoughts too. I have asked for second cut; Heidi taught me that!

I am a real newbie. I am familiar with some of the grasses you mentioned. I appreciate your thoughts on this matter. They have been eating it; but, they pull most out of the feeder, and there is a LOT of waste. I am seeking other hay at this point. I am certain it will all work out. My husband tells me I am putting my "human values" on hay that I would not like to eat, but the animals do not care as much; they just pick out the good!

I know I am very particular about these guys. Guess it could be my problem as much as anything...just hit at a particularly bad time here on the farm...

I thank you for your thoughts.

Patricia
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2011 :  8:35:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Generally any "horse" hay is ok for alpacas. I lucked out this year while looking for hay and when I mentioned I was looking for horse quality hay for my alpacas, the grower actually had sold lots of hay to local breeders and knew exactly what I was looking for (second cut orchard in this case).

I agree about talking to the person you bought if from. If selling hay is their main or major source of income they are going to want happy, return customers and should be willing and able to rectify the problem you are having.

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
http://alpacanation.com/wingnutfarm.asp
http://wingnut-alpacas.com
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BeachRunFarm

96 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  10:39:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for all your advise. After calling all over and speaking with those that have good hay; two of the brokers that had hay were sold out but would be getting more after Christmas. I called my vet who directed me to a llama farmer near here, and he led me to a gentleman only 45 minutes from here who sells alfalfa, orchard grass, and orchard/timothy mix. He said he has been buying from him for 4 years and is very happy with the quality of the hay.

We went today and picked up 20 bales. It is very nice and will hold us over through the holidays. After that, I will be checking out a few others but may end up sticking with him.

What a relief for me and my animals. They LOVE it and were rubbing their faces in it and eating up a storm.

So glad that worry is off my plate before the holidays. Just wanted to pass on the good news and thank all of you who offered such great comments.

Patricia Harkness
Beach Run Farm
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