Minerals are components of body tissues and fluids that work in combination with enzymes, hormones and Vitamins. They work either in combination with each other or compete with each other for absorption. Some minerals actually enhance the absorption of other minerals. That is why it is important to balance the minerals specifically for llamas and alpacas.
- Calcium is the most abundant mineral. 98% of the calcium in the llama or alpaca is in bone tissue and is therefore critical to structure and strength. Calcium absorption is Vitamin D dependent and a lack of either one will result in retarded bone growth. The ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus in the overall diet is critical. Diets high in phosphorus and low in calcium have been linked to soft tissue calcification and bone loss.
- Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the llama and alpaca. Many enzymes and the B Vitamins are activated only in the presence of Phosphorus. Calcium and Phosphorus are closely related. Fluctuations in one mineral will be reflected by subsequent fluctuations in the other. The natural ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus in bones and teeth is 2:1, this is an ideal ratio in the overall diet. Alfalfa and grains are higher in Calcium than the ideal 2:1 ratio; therefore, the supplementation of higher levels of Phosphorus are necessary.
- Potassium is used in intracellular fluid transmission. Potassium functions to maintain cellular integrity and water balance and is involved in muscle contraction and protein metabolism. Hot weather or stress may deplete potassium.
- Iron deficiency may be evident in a low red blood cell count. The condition of anemia will be aggravated by parasites.
- Magnesium is associated with tissue breakdown and cell destruction. Also helps in the formation of urea and as such is important in removing excess ammonia for the body. This helps the llama or alpaca to deal with hot weather and stress.
- Manganese deficiency may be caused by large amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the intestine. Signs of a deficiency are sterility and testicular degeneration, weak offspring and poor survival rates.
- Cobalt can replace zinc in some enzymes and participates in the biotin dependent oxalaxetate. Deficiency shows up as emaciated and anemic animals.
- Iodine deficiencies may include impaired physical development of the fetus, a lower basal metabolic rate and poorly formed bones.
- Copper competes with zinc for entry from the intestines and an increase in zinc might precipitate a copper deficiency. During growth, the largest concentrations of copper occur in developing tissues. Deficiency may result in a low white blood cell count, kinky or poor quality fiber and impaired growth. Impaired immunity and increased risk of prolonged duration of infections are all indications of a copper deficiency. *CAUTION: Copper should not exceed 20ppm in the total feeding program. Levels of Copper considered normal for other species may be toxic to lamas. Lama-Min 104 adds about 2.34 ppm to the current levels of copper in the animals total intake of feed. Research has indicated that alpacas and llamas should have 10 to 20 ppm in the total feeding program and may become toxic in the 60 ppm range over time. If you are in doubt, please contact your Veterinarian.
- Selenium is a trace mineral that functions either alone or as a part of enzyme systems. Selenium parallels the antioxidant and free radical scavenging action of Vitamin E. In general Vitamin E and selenium do not replace each other but are involved in overlapping systems. In llamas and alpacas selenium plays a major role in the normal development of the fetus during pregnancy and vitality of newborn. Llamas and alpacas require higher levels of selenium than most other species.
- Zinc functions indirectly as an antioxidant and is used in bone metabolism and plays a major role in necessary skin oil gland function. Zinc also functions in DNA synthesis, wound healing, the immune system, and reducing infant morbidity. Stillwater Minerals uses a chelated form of zinc that is less effected by competitions for absorption from other minerals.