Thursday, May 23, 2013

Camouflage in the oak leaves

Look who is hiding:

Ruby is hiding in those leaves:

Here is an interesting thing about leaves.  When we first started our alpaca farm we had read about how oak leaves can be toxic to alpacas.  This scared us and even made us rethink having an alpaca farm in an oak forest.  We did all the research we could, and came to the conclusion that in order to be toxic the oak leaves would have to make up the majority of their diet, or leach into their water (at a high volume).  As long as they have enough hay to eat this will never be an issue.  They will always prefer green grass hay over old leaves.

I do admit our first few years I raked up leaves like crazy.  But as you can see, that is unrealistic.  We are in an oak forest, the amount of work it takes to rid the area of leaves is unrealistic.

More recently we have heard about a theory that the tannins in the oak leaves that supposedly were toxic to alpacas, may actually instead be toxic to parasites.  We have often wondered why we have a low parasite load and do not seem to have to worm near as often as other alpaca farms.  There is no proof to their theory but I do believe it holds true on our farm.

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