Spring time is a good time to shear alpacas to help them cool down in the summer and allow plenty of time for the fleece to grow back in time for Winter.
We have three adult male alpacas at Percy’s end. They are all around 10 years old now and have lived with us for 5 years. Their primary role is lawn mowing which they excel at. They are quite low maintenance and shearing is the main event of the year.
Alpaca shearing is quite different to sheep shearing partly due to the size of the animal and also because alpaca fleece is more like hair and doesn’t have the oils that sheep fleece has. It’s a specialist job as animals can be easily hurt if not done correctly. Bob Shaw is our shearer and has sheared our boys all of their lives, even before they came to live with us.
The alpacas are corralled and then pulled to the floor with legs tied at each end to keep them in position. Our boys are on the large size for alpacas, so this can be quite a challenge, especially with Trooper as he is a big lad.
Once down, Gary usually holds their head up to keep their airway clear, whist Bob shears the fleece. I run around collecting fleece and bagging up the best fleece in to one bag and the poorer fleece from the legs and belly in another. We all do what we can to dodge any spit. This year, Trooper went first as he is bigger and stronger, so harder to get to the floor. His fleece isn’t that great, but he is a lovely gentle boy. Hardy next, not so difficult, but he does make a row. He tends to make a high pitch squeal when the clippers are on. It makes your ears ring for hours afterwards. His fleece is fabulous. Even Bob says it’s very good, especially given his age. Triumph is the grumpy one and after watching his friends go through the experience, he really was’t keen. After a bit of a struggle, he is down and shearing is done before we know it. Bob clips their toenails and gives them an antibiotic and worming injection.
Time for a cold drink as we’re pretty tired.