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Shearing Alpacas

What you need to know

 

Shearing alpacas is a skilled job and different from shearing sheep. We recommend you book an experienced shearer who will take care with your animals and maximise the potential of the fleece. The UK has professional shearers based in the UK and also shearers who travel over from America, Australia and New Zealand each year. Some owners attend a shearing course and choose to shear their own alpacas. Shearing of the national herd usually starts in May and continues through to August.

 

At Alpaca Power we book our shearer for May. Early shearing suits our birthing times and allows us time to prepare our fleeces for showing later in the year. We also organise for our shearer to go and shear our client animals if required. If you are local to our farm and would like to be included on our shearing list, then please contact us for further information.

Alpaca shearing

a skirted blanket ready for the fleece show

 

Shearing alpacas

Shearing alpacas – organisation is key

Alpaca shearing

An alpaca being shorn

Be organised for best results – your shearer and your alpacas will thank you!

 

It is always a good idea to book your shearer early. Schedules are likely to be confirmed nearer the time. Be aware that the weather can often affect shearing diaries.

 

Knowing what you want to do with your fleece beforehand will save you hours of time later on. Sorting it at the time into colours, grades or destination will mean you won’t necessarily have to look at every individual fleece again. Buyers of fleece will usually give you guidelines for baling it ready for collection/delivery. Show fleeces should be stored carefully for later skirting.

 

Organise some people to help on the day. There are plenty of jobs to do and help will make the day run smoothly, especially if you have a lot of alpacas.

 

Keeping the alpacas dry is essential. This is not always possible if there has been a heavy dew or you cannot keep them undercover. However, if they are wet your shearer may decide to come back and do them another day. We keep all our alpacas in the barn overnight. This keeps them out of the rain but also allows them to eat hay instead of grass. We find that, as a result, they are more comfortable and less likely to empty their bladders over the shearing mats.

 

On the day you will need;

 

  • Have ready a clean dry area for shearing
  • Electric supply
  • alpaca holding pens
  • marker pens to label the bags
  • fleece bags. These could be plastic or paper feed sacks or clear plastic bags
  • fleece ‘sheets’ for show fleeces
  • small sample bags if you collect fleece samples for analysis
  • husbandry record charts for recording notes on individual animals
  • brooms
  • rubbish bags
  • clean towels for spillages
  • cleaning and disinfectant solutions
Shearing alpacas

Bales of alpaca fibre ‘3rds’ ready for collection by Penrose Products Ltd

The shearers will usually bring shearing ropes and mats, teeth and toe trimming equipment.