A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 26, 2008

Griffin Gets A Cool Do

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General, guard llamas, llama, shearing — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:48 am

Griffin Shorn

Griffin Shorn


Earlier in the spring when we sheared the alpacas we decided not to shear the llamas at that time.  The llamas had been shorn the previous year and when we had first acquired them we were told that we only need shear them every other year.  The llama fleece is different from the alpaca fleece in that it contains a lot more guard hair and evolved to give llamas a certain amount of protection from the elements.  So initially we thought we would not shear the llamas this year but the thought was always in the back of our mind that if the llamas showed signs of being bothered by the heat we would go ahead and shear them.


Until recently the llamas had seemed fine but over the last week or two we had noticed that Griffin seemed a little uncomfortable.  She was swishing her tail a lot and nibbling at her hindquarters as if something was bothering her.  We had a quick look at her to make sure there was nothing readily apparent and could not see any signs of lice or bugs or any wounds or sore spots.


So yesterday we sheared Griffin to see if that will help her.  The llamas behave quite differently from the alpacas when it comes to shearing.  They seem to behave better if there are fewer people in the shearing area.  I don’t know why that is, but we do find the llamas are much easier to handle for shearing if only Ric and myself are present.  On some occasions Ric has shorn them completely on his own and they did well.


Griffin did well today, although she was not happy about us shearing her rear legs and so we did end up putting a blindfold on her.  We just used a clean old tee shirt, which we folded lengthwise to form the blindfold, the tee shirt was then placed over Griffin’s eyes and was held in place by tucking it into her halter.


As Griffin’s fiber came off (a beautiful Rose Grey fleece it is) we examined the fleece for ticks, bugs or evidence of any unwanted guests, but everything looked normal.  Her tail however was very matted and so we removed what matting we could and sheared her tail down. 


As dry as our spring was I do wonder if Griffin just has a case of dry, itchy skin.  Our alpaca Ma Cushla developed dry skin, which we discovered when we sheared her.  We changed Ma Cushla’s diet to include more fiber nutrients and some feed developed for pregnant and nursing dams and crias.  The change of diet seemed to help Ma Cushla and so we will change Griffin’s ration a little bit and see if it has a as well too.


Of course now we feel that should shear our other two llamas Maya and Inca, so it’s back to shearing again, then we will be well and truly done with shearing – until next year that is!




  1. Hey Rosemary!

    I shear my mini-llamas every year, just like the pacas. Some llama fiber is actually quite wonderful–depends on the genes of the individual. Just as you can breed for fiber fineness in pacas, so can you breed for fiber fineness in llamas. That being said, if your llama has coarse fiber, you can a) have it dehaired at the mill and/or b) have it spun into bulky rug yarn.

    Many llama people do an annual “barrel cut.” But if you’re not into showing your llamas, I suggest that you give them the full body haircut. They will do soooooooo much better in the summer heat.

    best regards

    Virginia Lyons

    Comment by Virginia Lyons, alpaca owner — July 26, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

  2. Hi Virginia,

    Our Griffin’s fiber is lovely and soft with very little guard hair, and with that beautiful Rose Grey color it will make a lovely heathered yarn. Our other two girls Maya and Inca both have soft, fine fiber too. Maya and Inca have a little more guard hair but not too much and most definitely the fiber from all three girls is usuable.

    I have to agree that the full body haircut is the better option if you are not showing your llamas, Griffin seems a lot happier since her date with the clippers.


    Comment by alpacalady — July 27, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

  3. Very interesting, ladies. I had never seen an alpaca around here in Pennsylvania that has been shorn. Interesting that it can be used very similar to alpaca fleece or rug yarn if it is coarse. What a GREAT idea, and I would imagine it holds up just as well or maybe even longer if it is the course stuff. Oooh, I would love some good tough rugs for the exterior doors. Might have to check into that. Thanks for all the info. I learn so much from you, Rosemary! 🙂

    Comment by Kelly L — July 29, 2008 @ 2:32 am

  4. oops, my first sentence was wrong. I have never seen a llama around here that was shorn. Sorry. 😦

    Comment by Kelly L — July 29, 2008 @ 2:33 am

  5. Hi Kelly,

    I wonder if the barrel cut is more popular in Pennsylvania than the full shear. Wherever a llama is it usually needs shearing at least every other year or else the fiber can become matted and very uncomfortable. There are some llama owners who spend a lot of time grooming their llamas and so perhaps they do not experience the matting as much.

    We have some beautiful rugs made from our alpaca fiber(search on the word rug in this blog and you should find an entry about our rugs, they are durable, stain resistant and feel good to walk on. The llama fiber can be used for the same type of rug, if ever you want one let me know and I can give you more details.

    I have seen some of the yarn that Virginia (who has also posted on this entry) has had made from her llama fiber and it is beautiful. Just like with the alpaca fiber the sorting and grading of the fiber prior to spinning makes a big difference to the yarn.


    Comment by alpacalady — July 29, 2008 @ 5:25 am

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