Alpacas on Shearing Day

Shearing Day Guide and Information


We've put together a useful guide about what to expect on shearing day, with some tips and advice to help things run smoothly ...


Pricing

Some shearing outfits charge per alpaca plus travel and extras (such as setting up) whilst other shearing gangs charge a flat rate for shearing then charge foot trimming, teeth trimming etc.

On average the cost comes out about the same per alpaca.

Please contact us for a quote to shear your alpacas.

Read an article about how we estimate shearing costs.



Alpaca penning prior to shearing

We will need animals penned next to the shearing area.

The pen should be small enough to easily catch the alpacas without chasing about a large area, causing undue stress and wasting time.

The pen should be one with high hurdles to prevent the alpacas jumping out. Sheep barriers do not provide sufficient height to secure the pen.

If at all possible the pen and working area should be under cover.



Access

Vehicle access will be required next to, or reasonably close to, the shearing area.

Please advise us when booking if this is not possible.



Electric points

A power supply will be needed. If outlets are not in proximity of the designated shearing area(s) please communicate this at booking. We can arrange to hire a portable generator, as an alternative, however you will be oncharged for the rental, travel and time. It would be a much more cost effective option if this is arranged, by yourselves.
NB A generator is NOT ideal. If the shearing tools  are used for lengthy periods they are likely to burn out.   



The shearing process

The alpacas are restrained during shearing using a specifically designed harness. When the legs are secured the animal is carefully lowered to the shearing mat with the handler working alongside the shearer, throughout the process.

Two fixing points are required for the harness ropes, these can be solid fence or gate posts, a truck tow hitch (possibly), our ground stakes or a combination, with a minimum working space of 4.5m x 3m required.

The saddle fleece is removed at the onset and should be taken from the mat, immediately, to avoid contamination with lower grade fibre. We are mindful that great care be taken in cutting the blanket cleanly to ensure minimal contamination. If at all possible we suggest that this fibre be spread onto a clean bench/table to remove any short or guard hair, as well as vegetable matter (VM), before bagging/storage.

Note: Your fibre will be graded DOWN in micron if lower quality grades are evident. It is near impossible to remove later. Also note is that if the fibre is thick with VM it will be considered, in most cases, unusable.

Generally shearing will start with the white alpacas, working through to colours, light to dark. This helps reduce the risk of fibre contamination.



Processing your fibre

In recent years there has been more focus on the sale of alpaca fibre, to generate income to offset the investment and costs associated with Alpaca ownership. There are a number of ways to extract value from your fibre and it is in your best financial interest to give the fleece the attention it deserves.

Originally, alpaca were imported from South America with breeding and genetics being the ONLY focus to establish a great return. Breeders expected that this was all that was required but, as it turned out, only a few, initial, breeders benefited.

As the volume of fibre has grown, there is now a demand for fibre in commercial, manufacturing numerous products, with popularity being its hypoallergenic qualities. Where breeding had the attention, it is now fibre that has the market.
  • Please have ALL fibre as free from vegetable matter (VM) as possible
  • Please ensure that saddles/blankets/fleece’s are bagged separately (1st’s)
  • Saddles should be skirted, removed of short lengths (<3”/75mm) and guard
  • Necks bagged separately (2nd’s)
  • Short hair and guard bagged separately (3rd’s).
  • Bags/fadges clearly marked with farm/owner name
As you know alpaca love to roll. A suggestion to ensure fibre is relatively free of VM is to move the animal’s to "clean" areas a couple of weeks prior to shearing. i.e. removed from anything that will stick to their fibre, including dags. i.e. sticks, tree's, thistles, iddy bids, straw etc. Dirt is not a problem.

A comment from a buyer/classer of fibre:

"It seems the BEST fibre retains the MOST unwanted matter. It is absolutely heart breaking to see so much waste, of such a beautiful product."  And, "I'm afraid, in these instances, the fibre is deemed unusable." 

Your 3rd grade fibre does not need to be bagged per animal however please keep coloured fibre separate from white. Ideally, white, light, and dark short hair/guard.

Moth ridden and mouldy fibre cannot be used. It is brittle/weak and will be returned or discarded.



Fibre / Samples

Please ensure there are enough large bags on hand for the fibre, usually three per animal, as previously noted.

It is the owner’s responsibility to bag the fibre as it is shorn, unless otherwise agreed. Keeping the mat clear of fibre helps reduce the possibility of cross grade and colour contamination.

Please advise if fibre samples, for testing purposes, are required prior to shearing.



Weather / wet animals

If rain is expected providing shelter eliminates the chances of having wet fibre. This may mean erecting a temporary shelter, using a car port, or utilising a covered area.

There is no issue shearing wet alpacas however you must keep the electrics dry, and under cover.

Once shearing is over you can dry out the fibre where there is a clear area.

Use paper bags to store your wet fibre before you have the opportunity to dry it out. Paper bags will help take up some of the moisture. Post Shearing Day the fibre MUST be dried as mould will quickly make it unusable.



Shearing pregnant alpacas

Shearing alpacas at any stage of pregnancy is possible as long as the handling of your alpaca is safe and gentle. This means the put down crew must be extremely careful as well as trained (Shearpac can assist with this).

Once the pregnant alpaca is down on the shearing mat the alpaca should only be turned once.The 9 cut shearing system is ideal for this.

Also helpful, and if applicable, have the females Cria at foot. While shearing these females having the young Cria close by helps the Cria with the transition of a non shorn mum to shorn mum and allows the mother the normality of her offspring being nearby. 






Vaccinations and nail clipping

We also provide nail trimming and will vaccinate the animals for you however we do not carry vaccines or syringes. These will need to be provided.

General pricing can be quoted so please get in touch if you require any additional services alongside the shearing. Contact us here ...



Shearing day dates / arrival times

We endeavour to keep to times and dates, however please keep in mind that delays do occur.

Weather is unpredictable and traffic may impact on ETA.

Once a date is booked we will keep you updated with estimated arrival times sent via text or call.

Please note that all booked dates for outside shearing are weather permitting and that travelling conditions can affect scheduled times.



Anything else?

There are several things a farmer can have prepared upon the shearing teams arrival.

First off is to be ready with a good sense of humour and a smile when your shearing team arrives.

Shearing should be stress free and a fun day!

Please contact us if you have any questions, we are happy to help.
 
We look forward to seeing you on Shearing Day.




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