Alpacas are prone to tasting anything that comes within reach, so it pays to become familiar with toxic plants to ensure none “sneak” into your pasture (or are reachable over a fence). Be aware that many toxic plants become more palatable and more toxic after death, so don’t make hay from paddocks infested with poisonous plants, and if your chosen method to remove such plants is by cutting them out, then remove the plants from the paddock!
The following is a short list of common poisonous plants, there are many more!
- All nightshades
- All lilies
- Tomato & Potato plants
- Rhododendrons & Azaleas
- Jerusalem Cherry
Check out the links page for other sites with more indepth information.
We heard of a sad case where an alpaca owner lost a much-loved alpaca from poisoning back in 2008 – caused by eating flax. Over the last few years, we have often heard flax touted as a natural anthelmintic (internal parasite cure), so this was somewhat of a surprise to us. Liz did some research and discovered that goats are also susceptible to poisoning by flax – from the prussic acid or cyanide that naturally occurs in flax, but only reaches toxic proportions when the plant is under stress by frost or drought, and ruminants are particularly susceptible. Although alpacas are considered “modified ruminants” it would be wise to assume they are equally affected. Other plant species that can also contain toxic levels of cyanide from time to time are: Gregg’s catclaw, acacia, catclaw acacia, devil’s catclaw, mountain mahogany, iris, blue flag, common flax, western choke cherry, pine cherry, wild red cherry, bird cherry, fire cherry, wild black cherry, apple, Johnson grass*, sudan grass*, common sorghum*, poison suckleya, white clover, arrow grass, goose grass, sour grass, pod grass, maize, and corn. Many of these are routinely included in stock feeds and in pasture.