It is so important for the smooth running of the day that these guidelines are followed. They ensure an enjoyable day for us all. To aid you further in your planning and preparation we like to give you a courtesy call in the lead up to your shearing to make sure you are confident and ready to go.
What do you need to prepare before shearing day?
The week before
The saying goes ‘clean your paddock not your alpacas’ so move them to clean paddocks, fence off any of their precious dust baths and the same goes for muddy patches... we all know how much our animals like to roll in anything messy!
The day before
If it looks like there will be rain or inclement weather on your shearing day, your animals need to be in a shelter to prevent their fleece from getting wet.
If your animals are damp or wet in any way, or full of grit when we arrive we will be unable to shear them.
On the day
You need to provide...
- An undercover shearing area of approximately 16ft x 16ft (or 6-7m between anchor points if outside). Anchor points in opposite corners to tie our ropes to 12”-18” from the ground
- A nearby mains power supply
- A minimum of 2 helpers
- Throw away towels and old socks - these are very useful for the spitting/peeing that will inevitably occur
- Lighting source: if the shearing area is naturally dark lighting will be needed
- Soft brushes to aid sweeping and collecting fleece - we find soft natural bristles work best as man made cause static and do not work as effectively.
- Halters/leads: if your animals need to be moved
- Fleece bags and sample bags, paper or plastic
- Permanent pens to mark the bags
- Details for us about any show fleeces and whether you require neck separate from waste
- Some cold refreshments to keep hydrated
**We will advise you of our arrival time during our courtesy call to you.**
Animals should be penned up, haltered (if applicable) and ready to go 15-30 minutes before our arrival, this makes our visit run smoothly.
If on arrival we find your animals are not prepared and in position and we are unable to shear, we can reschedule, however, a further set up fee will be required to cover the cost of travel.
Once we are happy with the setup and condition of your animals we will create our shearing station and talk with you about the shearing process, delegating jobs to each helper.
We shear the animals on the ground. If you have cow mats please position them ready in the shearing area. (if you don't have mats, we will bring a heavy duty tarp.)
The animals will be restrained with a rope restraint system.
We will bring all our own equipment and just require that you supply the items listed above.
We can supply mobile generators for power and portable awning if you have no cover in the event of rain during shearing. (please arrange this with us when booking your shearing).
All of the shearing and trimming work will be carried out by us...
For smaller herds we find the ideal team size to be 4 or 5… 2 of us to shear and trim, 2/3 owners or friends/relatives. You will need more if you plan to skirt fleeces as we shear.
We require 1/2 helpers to lead each animal to the shearing station and hold them on the mat.
The 2nd/3rd helper will then put the restraints on the legs of the animal and pull the rope pulley to bring the animal down.
This is the most physical task that will be required of you… the 2nd/3rd helper/s will need to be up and down on their knees to put the restraints on and will need to do a bit of pulling to get the rope tight.
Once the animal is tied down, the first helper can concentrate on fleece collection while the second helper assists with holding the head still, the third helper can be preparing the next animal to be brought out.
It is VERY important that all helpers listen to instructions while shearing is in operation, this is for health and safety reasons.
No one must reach in to collect fleece until the shearing handpiece is safely away.
Food and accommodation
If we are shearing all day then food and drinks are appreciated so that there is no time spent going out for lunch.
Sandwiches or light snacks are ideal... Breaks will usually happen during blade changes and will be about 5-10 minutes giving us a chance to hydrate and chat.
If we are staying more than one day we would always welcome accommodation if you have it available. Otherwise, details of your local B & B is great.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a specific order my alpacas should be shorn in?
Lightest to darkest... males first then females… the order is up to you and is simply a fibre consideration for you in regards to preventing fleece contamination.
Can you shear pregnant females?
YES. About 90% of females shorn during the shearing season are pregnant, we can shear them at any stage of their pregnancy, even when they’re overdue.
Aborts can occur after shearing but it is extremely rare. In our experience the consequences of heat stress are far greater than 15/20 minutes of shearing.
Can you shear cria?
YES. Cria shearing gets rid of the amniotic fluid from the fleece so when you shear them as a yearling you will have a staple without sticky ends.
Cria are shorn in exactly the same way as adults, we adjust our restraints so that they are firm enough to keep the cria still without stretching them too much.
We always advise to keep Mother right there so when the cria is released they can re-acquaint with each other.
Shearing of Suri cria is not as common as Huacayas due to the difference in fleeces, but they could still benefit from shearing, the option is yours.
Do I really need to provide old socks?
YES. We pop an old sock onto the nose of animals that are prone to spitting, this approach is to eliminate fibre contamination and is very successful.
They need to be large men’s socks with a reasonable length as they can fill up quickly with the lovely green stuff so please allow at least one sock between 2 of your known spitting alpacas.
I want to show my fleece do I need to tell you?
YES. Please let us know which animal's blankets you intend to show before we start shearing, we will shear these slightly differently.
If you have any questions we haven't covered above then please feel free to contact us.