A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 24, 2007

Shearing Crias – Yes or No?

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Fiber, Alpaca Health, Alpaca Shows, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — alpacalady @ 7:21 am

Velvet Before Shearing    Velvet          Annie Before Shearing Annie

Sunday’s fleece skirting seminar finished earlier than I had expected so I took the opportunity to get home a day earlier.  It meant I didn’t get to stay with my friends Nancy and Brian, but they were very understanding about my going home and we will all look forward to the next time we can get together.

So having arrived home a day earlier than expected it was time to get some tasks done.   One task that needed doing was to shear Annie the cria.  Annie’s dam Aurora is here for breeding and as Annie is not weaned yet she of course came with Aurora.  Annie has a very fine, silky fleece and lots of it and during a recent discussion with her owner it had been decided that it was in Annie’s best interest to shear her. 

Many breeders debate about shearing crias.  When we first came into the alpaca business crias were not usually shorn until the shearing a year after their birth.  As time has passed on and the industry has gained more knowledge about alpacas and alpaca fleece some breeders have started to shear their crias anytime from two weeks of age onwards. 

The theory behind shearing crias is that they are less likely to heat stress if the weather is warm and that their fleece will appear more even by the time they come to show.  Another benefit of shearing crias is that the “cria tips” of the fleece are removed.  Cria tips are at the tip of the fibers of an alpacas first fleece, they are the part of the fleece that is in the amniotic fluid the longest prior to the cria being born, and often they are fine and slightly brittle.  Cria tips are like velcro and will easily trap vegetable matter in a fleece which is no fun to remove when it comes to processing that fleece.

In the past we have not really had a policy of shearing crias, but then a lot of our crias are born in the fall and are ready for shearing by the spring.  This year however Velvet Princess was born just at that time that made us feel she was too young to shear when we did our main shearing.  As the summer progressed Velvet appeared to be handling the heat well but her fleece was starting to get very long.  Ric and I had a couple of discussions about whether or not to shear Velvet.  If we left her cria fleece unshorn it would definitely be long enough to show in the spring but would it be so long that it wouldn’t show at it’s best? And what about the heat, was Velvet going to be too hot?  Eventually we decided to go ahead and shear Velvet, the daytime temperatures are gradually climbing and at the rate her fleece is growing she should still make at least the minimum fleece length for the spring 2008 shows.

Velvet and Annie tolerated their shearing well, although I am sure both were glad when we were done.  Annie’s dam had no problems accepting Annie after shearing but Velvet’s dam Queen took a little convincing that Velvet was the same cria that had been taken out of the pasture this morning.  We of course kept an eye on Queen and Velvet until we saw Velvet nursing from Queen.  The last thing we wanted is a rejected cria and while Velvet is almost at weaning weight the stress of shearing and rejection by her dam would not be good for her.

For the rest of the day Annie and Velvet frolicked around enjoying thier new cool haircuts.  Those are their “before” pictures at the top of the page and below this paragraph are thier “after” pictures.  Quite a difference, but I think they will both do better for being sheared.

Velvet After Shearing   Velvet     Annie After Shearing Annie

Rosemary

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