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Summers are More Comfortable Without an Alpaca Sweater

Jefferson is feeling better already
Alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in the spring. In addition to harvesting their fleece, shearing is important in assisting the alpaca to tolerate the heat of summer. The proficiency of the shearer is of considerable importance.
  • Shearing can be frightening and stressful and therefore should be done with smooth efficiency.
  • Experience is needed to avoid injuring the animal while using sharp instruments.
  • The final appearance of the shorn alpaca is important when judging the alpaca's conformation, aesthetics and potential as breeding stock.
  • The blanket of fleece must conform to established standards when submitted for processing or judging at a show.
While some ranchers have developed the expertise to shear their own animals, most leave this job to a professional. With the help of many volunteers, shearing day is a day we look forward to with great joy - and are thrilled when the day is over! Some fleeces are set aside to be shown at competitions, the rest will be sent off to be processed into yarn, socks, and rugs.

On shearing day, we also trim toe nails, give the annual CDT shot (to keep their immune system in good condition) and trim the top knot.

The real work begins after shearing when the blankets and necks (also called firsts and seconds) are first skirted and then sorted.  Skirting eliminates the part of the fleece that simply doesn't belong there.  This is a skill easily learned.

And then there's sorting.  More about that later.
waiting for our turn
We lost about 30 lbs between us

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