A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 12, 2007

Keeping Things In Order

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, camelids, General, guard llamas — alpacalady @ 7:42 am

Having made all of your shearing preparations the time comes to shear.  It is a good idea to establish a shearing order prior to shearing day, this helps move things along more rapidly and makes the day easier on your alpacas, your shearer and you.  As you put together your shearing order you may also want to take the time to prepare labels for each of your alpacas on which you can record shearing information.  Depending on how you decide to sort your fleece you may need two or more labels for each alpaca.  The label should indicate the alpacas name, date of shearing, area of fleece shorn (blanket, neck, upper legs, lower legs, belly), the fleece weight and any other information you feel necessary.  Don’t forget to keep a copy of each alpacas shearing information for your herd records.

Prior to starting shearing discuss with your shearer how you want the alpacas topknots and tails shorn, if you want the legs taken completely down or if they should be tapered and also give an indication of how many show fleeces you anticipate shearing.  Show fleeces take a little longer to shear and the shearer needs to be able to gauge the pace for the day.

Plan to shear light colors first then gradually proceed to dark colors.  This will help prevent color contamination.  Fleeces that are white with black fibers throughout the fleece will need to be placed in with the gray fleeces, the same goes for black fleeces that have white fibers throughout the fleece.

You may also want to organize shearing each color group by fineness, for example shear the fine white alpacas first and then move onto the coarser white alpacas.  Also consider shearing your stud males either at the beginning or end of their respective color groups to avoid having them around the females and stressing the females out.

Pregnant females can be shorn at any stage of their pregnancy, but extra care must be taken with them.  Always advise your shearer if a female is pregnant and give him an idea of where she is in her pregnancy.  We give our pregnant females a mild sedative prior to shearing to help keep their stress levels down.  If your shearer is using a stretcher make sure that the female alpaca doe not get overstretched.

Once shorn we put our females into a pasture or pen where they can relax and recover from the shearing experience.  We also keep a watchful eye on that area to make sure no-one shows signs of labor. 

If you have llamas to shear plan on shearing them after your alpacas so that you avoid fleece contamination.

Shearing day is a stressful time for all involved but with the right amount of help on hand and a bit of pre-planning you will find the day goes by smoothly and easily.

Rosemary 

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