Because fiber insulates these animals againstheat loss, poor nutrition compounds the thermoregula-tory stress experienced in these extreme climates andthus predisposes alpacas to PEM.The need for high-quality, nutritious, palatable feedalong with regular body condition scoring and weigh-ing in these climates cannot be overemphasized. In ani-mals with suspected malnutrition, feed analysis is asimple and cost-effective way for practitioners to calcu-late the nutritional needs of each animal and comparethose needs with what is being provided by the currentdiet.
ENERGY AND PROTEIN CALCULATIONS
Initially, daily maintenance metabolizable energy (ME)should be calculated using the following equation
:ME (Mcal) = (84.5
1000[Equation 1]Digestible energy (DE), a relatively constant propor-tion of ME,
is calculated as follows:DE (Mcal) = ME
1.22[Equation 1a] Additional factors
important to the DE equation areoften overlooked during calculation (see Essential Fac-tors in the Digestible Energy Equation). Omission of these factors can lead to inadequate feeding of energy and protein and the development of PEM.Maintenance crude protein (CP) or total protein lev-els are directly related to the DE value calculated inEquation 1a; CP is calculated as
:CP (g) = 31 g
DE (Mcal)[Equation 2]Maximum dry matter (DM) intake or third-compart-ment limitation is calculated as:DM (kg) = BW (kg)
0.02[Equation 3]During free-choice feeding, llamas will not eat morethan 2% BW (DM) over 24 hours, even during periodsof growth.
Sheep, however, can increase DM intake to3.0% BW DM.
The camelid diet has to be sufficient-ly energy- and protein-dense to satisfy their nutritionalrequirements within the limitations of DM intake.
BODY CONDITION SCORING
Determining the BCS of alpacas is essential and re-quires handling of the animal for accurate measure-ment. It is simple, cost-effective, and can easily be per-formed on a regular basis. This assessment is subjective,however, and thus consistency of scoring is important. Alpacas are assigned a numeric value ranging from 1(emaciated) to 9 (very obese) based on their body con-dition. Although 5 represents optimal condition, scoresfrom 4 to 6 are acceptable (Table I).The chest, front legs, lumbar area, ribs, and dorsalhindlimbs should be assessed. Contrary to the condi-tion scoring of sheep and cattle, assessment of the pel-vis is not performed in alpacas because the musculatureand adipose tissue distribution is such that even anoverconditioned animal will appear thin.In thin alpacas, the lumbar musculature between thedorsal and transverse spinous processes of the lumbarvertebrae appears concave because of a lack of coveringadipose tissue. In obese animals, however, the tissue isconvex between the spinous processes and may pro-trude above the vertical processes of the spine in thelumbar area.In alpacas with optimal BCSs, the verticalprocesses of the spine can be felt using gentle pressureand the cross-sectional shape of the epaxial musclesover the vertebra is flat.Ribs should be palpated in the fiberless area directly behind the elbow of the forelimb and over the middleand widest part of the ribcage. The fiber must not in-
December 2000Small Animal/Exotics
—During the last 4 months of gestation,0.093 Mcal DE
should be added.
—An additional 0.00892 Mcal DE/gramincrease in BW should be added for juvenileanimals that are still gaining in height and weight.The figure is often 1.78 Mcal DE/day.
—1.533 Mcal DE should be added foreach kilogram of milk produced (crias should beconsuming 10% BW/day
—An increase in energy as muchas 75% above normal adult maintenancerequirements may be needed.
—0.04 Mcal DE should be added forevery degree below +15˚C. Although not specific tocamelids, this has been evaluated in Canadiancattle.
Note: Because literature on camelid nutrition is scarce, thesevalues have been extrapolated from studies in sheep, goats,
= body weight;
= digestible energy.
Essential Factors in theDigestible Energy Equation