Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shearing time and tips for small or first time breeders or owners of alpacas!

Waiting their turn for shearing.
Like many small breeders or owners of alpacas in Australia it is shearing time! Its been rather warm here so I'm very pleased that they are now shorn as they will be much more comfortable. Watching alpacas interact before and after shearing is so interesting. How much fleece they grow seems to affect their status in the group and their own identity. After they are shorn they almost look bashful like they are wandering around with no clothes on! They also all have to re-greet everyone to figure out who is who as they all look different. I love how tiny they really are under their fleece! Here are some photos of our shearing session today.

Who are you again?
Shearing Goldie

Woohoo we are free! Tux has even rolled in the dirt patch already! Re-exploring the paddock.

We often get asked for tips for small holders of alpacas for shearing time. Whilst the shearing process is the same for large breeders and small alike, not all small breeders or owners have nice shearing set-ups or the experience so shearing time can be quite stressful. Here are a few of our tips to make it easier!

  • Have as many helpers on hand that you can, all with assigned jobs,
  • Have the alpacas ready before the shearer gets there,
  • Have different colour bags for the saddle fleece and the neck and leg fleece. We tend to use clear bags for the saddle and garbage bags for the neck and leg fleece,
  • Help the shearer collect the saddle fleece, whilst the shearer helps to separate the saddle from the rest, it will still need a second skirting and it is not their responsibility to do this for you,
  • Make sure none of the neck and leg fleece makes it into the bag with the saddle fleece or cross contaminates other fleeces,
  • When you write the name or designator of the alpaca on the bag, write the length of the fleece and any other comment you may have as well. Whilst the fleece may be obvious when it first goes in the bag after a few hours of shearing and a big pile of fleece in bags, it can all start to look alike and this might just save you from having to go back through everything, 
  • Length is very important for processing, only fleece 70-140mm is processable and 90-110mm produces the best results,
  • What do we do with the neck and leg fleece? Unless you have a top breeding alpaca, generally the the neck and leg fleece is too short and hairy for processing however it makes wonderful fertiliser for your veggie patch!
Hope that helps!

Mother and daughter, Goldie and Bronze taking their time