A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 6, 2007

To Shear Or Not To Shear – That Is The Question!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, camelids, General, Uncategorized — alpacalady @ 7:45 am

It’s that time of the year when an alpaca owner’s thoughts turn to shearing.  Alpacas require shearing once a year and we usually like to shear in the spring after the risk of freezing temperatures has passed.

When we first started with alpacas we used to take them all to another breeders farm where a shearer had been contracted to work for the day.  This was fine except for the fact that it was a three hour drive one way, and as our herd grew it was not really practical to load them all up and drive them to the shearing.

So we progressed to having the shearer come to our farm to shear.  We would let other alpaca and llama owners know that we had a shearer coming and we typically ended up shearing 50-60 alpacas in a day.

Unfortunately this year the shearer decided it was not “economically viable” to come to our place to shear.  He had mentioned last year that the driving distance between farms in the Southwest cost him time out of his shearing schedule, so it was not a complete surprise when he told us that he would not be coming.

Fortunately Ric had attended a shearing clinic last year and had managed to get a little practice during the year.  Bob Dart from Llano Soleado Alpacas had also attended the shearing clinic and so we planned that we would start shearing our herds from April onwards and shear a few alpacas each weekend.  The shearing project was going to be a protracted one this year but at least we would get it done.  Or so we thought – because what we hadn’t counted on was the weird weather we have been experiencing this year.

We had planned on shearing a few alpacas last Saturday – it snowed.  Okay we thought, we will just plan on shearing some today (Good Friday) and Saturday.  Surely with us all working together for two days we could get several alpacas shorn.  Well guess what the forecast is for Friday through Sunday – rain, snow and freezing temperatures.  The forecast mentions 1 – 2 inches of snow accumulation and Saturday’s daytime high is only supposed to be 38!

As much as we want to get started on shearing, we have to consider how they alpacas will feel if they go from being full fleeced to shorn and then have to be outside in below freezing temperatures.  Not good I am sure.  There is also a fair bit of rain forecast until Thursday and really it is best to avoid shearing wet fleeces if at all possible.

So I suspect we will not be shearing this weekend, I just wouldn’t feel right at having a herd of “naked” alpacas sitting out in the snow and cold.

Hopefully we will be able to get started soon,  fortunately I did manage to find a professional shearer who is able to come in mid May and shear whatever we have not managed to shear ourselves.  Surely by then the snow will be gone – but the way this year is going who knows!


PS And a special Happy Birthday to Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas, who claims it always snows on her birthday! I guess she didn’t really want to shear alpacas on her birthday anyway – and who can blame her!


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