New Alpaca Cria Feeder

Some of our crias were born a little later than I like to see our fall births, namely Tithonus at the end of October and our long pregnancy record setter Christmas Snow born in December.  We’ve been concerned about them getting extra food to keep their growth up during the cold weather and have been adding alfalfa to their regular hay to give them a little extra protein.  Of course, the mama alpacas, being typical alpacas, would eat the alfalfa as fast as they could leaving little for the crias.  It got me thinking about building another alpaca cria creep feeder to give our new little ones their own space where they could eat with less competition.  (Our previous creep feeder is on the opposite side of the barn and in use by the spring crias right now.)

Snobelle wondering how to get some of that grain. Hercules is more interested in the alfalfa.

We had an overhang area that we just closed in the end to block the wind, and looking at it gave me an idea of how to separate the space so the crias could get in to eat hay.  The crias are all one to three months, so they are not close to weaning yet, and are all very dependent on their moms.  They are not looking for an area of independence as much as with our previous area, just a space to eat at their speed.  So, I decided on a gate similar to our previous feeder with a movable panel across the front of the barn to allow us access to bring in the hay.  We trained them the same way as previously by placing them in the feed area to familiarize them with it.  The crias loved it!

Marquessa is trying to come up with a new strategy for getting into the creep feeder area.

Unfortunately so did one of the moms.  Marquessa is not only lovely, she is smart.  She quickly realized that the 26 inch by 12 inch openings we made were quite big enough for her to squeeze through.  So I added another board to lower the height to 22 inches tall.  No problem.  Marquessa is fine with crouching and walking on her knees to get some extra alfalfa.  So I added a 2 inch board along the edge.  You guessed it.  No problem for Marquessa.  Hold your breath and work through it.  Finally, I added another 2×4, reducing the opening to 8-9 inches.  The opening was now so small we worried the crias couldn’t fit, but they are actually quite tiny still and fit through with no trouble.  Marquessa is put out, but she’s got plenty to eat in the mamas’ hay feeder.

I noticed this week that several of the fall crias were showing a lot of interest in their mom’s grain as well, so added a feeding bar and a couple buckets to the alpaca cria creep feeder area.  That was a hit with the crias, even little Chrissy, so I will likely add a few more buckets so they don’t have to jostle each other to eat.  We expect this to help keep the crias weight gain going strong, while reducing some of the energy demands on their moms as well.

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