Welcome to the Animal Care (Husbandry) Blog! This month we are going to be discussing top-knot trimming, some of our girls and boys needed a haircut over the past few weeks and we decided to get some before and after shots!
On our farm, we have over 150 alpacas, and not a single one has the same hairstyle (although we do have a few that are very similar) which means that they all need their top knots cut at different times. This past week, we have been looking at our stud boys because many of their topknots are very thick. While some of our pet boys, and some of our females too have quite short topknots, or high hairlines! You can see the difference in hairstyles below. With Lucinda and her voluminous topknot on the left, and Sunshine on the left with quite a high hairline.
Throughout the year, we look at each of our field groups (females, studs, pets and maternity) and we make sure to keep on top of all of their topknots. This is because if they get too long, they can’t see, and also their eyes can be at risk of infection. As you can see above, Lucinda has got a very dense topknot but this simply means she gets hers trimmed more often than perhaps Sunshine would.
When giving some of our stud boys a trim, we chose Close Encounter as our model, and we took before, during and after shots of his topknot, so you can see the difference it makes…
Many of our stud boys have a lot of fleece on their cheeks as well as on their head, and this can have the same affect as their topknot if it becomes too long, so occasionally we will give them a trim on their cheeks, because our boys need to be handsome but need to see the world too!
There are many different ways that people “style” their alpacas. During shearing, alpacas tend to have their whole fleece taken off, and many would leave the topknots (and some tails). While other people take a more creative approach to their alpacas appearance. As you can see below, some people will take all the fleece - including those topknots - off and leave nothing, while others may choose to keep the tails, or even the trousers!! Many breeders will only shear their alpacas up to the necks, and leave their whole head fluffy! On the other hand, there are a number of people out there that prefer to be a little more original, as opposed to traditional when giving their alpacas that all important yearly makeover! Some go for stripes, or waves, or even dinosaurs!!
On our farm, we shear our alpacas up to the topknots, simply because we prefer to use their fleece positively in the way it is intended. Once we have sheared the alpacas, we send a lot of the fleece off to the mills, but we also have a number of superstars on our farm, and their fleece gets sent off to the shows!
The different hairstyles has started quite a debate, some people prefer traditional shearing patterns, some people think its cruel or wasteful of the fleece, while there are many other people think that the creativity is fantastic! What are your opinions? Traditional or Creative?