Shearing Day 2012

Andersons Alpacas teamed up with our farming partners, James and Lisa Deardon, for the annual chore/event of shearing the alpacas. We had 15 animals on site to be shorn. We employed the services of Darrin and Andrew, the shearing team from New Zealand.  These fellows are expert at their craft! They handle the animals gently. They shear them efficiently in approximately 8 minutes per animal.

Andrew and Darrin, The New Zealanders

James and Lisa Haltering Atlas

Leading Atlas

We set up two shearing stations. While one animal is being shorn, the next is being readied. We prepare the animals by using a wire fleece cleaner tool to brush down their sides. We also aim a leaf blower on them to blow out as much sand and dirt as possible. Dirt is very tough on the shearing blades. This spares some wear on the blades as well as some unnecessary weight on the shorn fleece.

Wire brush away the vegetation (upper right)

Leaf blowing the dirt away

Johnny Fleece awaits his turn

We group the animals by gender to prevent an unplanned breeding event. We also group them by color to prevent color contamination in the shorn fleeces . We start with the light fleeces, proceed through the fawns, and finish with the dark fleeces. While the animals are restrained, we seize the opportunity to file teeth and/or give shots as needed.

Atlas undergoes his shearing

Darrin eases the clippers over Atlas's abdomen...

... gently separating Atlas' fleece from his hide


The animals are caught, haltered, and led to the station where we use a rope and pulley system to secure their feet. We gently lay the alpaca down as the feet are stretched out. There is great variation among the animals regarding how they accept their temporary restraint and the subsequent shearing. Some animals get excited and squeal or buck or spit. Some do all three. And there are just as many animals that are quiet and placidly accept the process. Our co-farmers have Atlas who appears to go into a sleep-like trance while he is shorn. We have to shake him awake when it is over! Com’on, Atlas. Get up.

Made in the shade

Atlas sporting his summer apparel

Andrew's knee pads - vital equipment

When the process is over, the alpacas are quite happy to scamper away and enjoy their new summer wardrobe. Today, it is going to hit 90 degrees. Our alpacas were happy to lay in the shade. Later, when we humans were taking a drink of the water from the hose, James sprayed one of the animals with the water.  Several others trotted over to get in on the spray shower fun.

This year, I am happy to report, none of the humans were spit upon. In fact, after the morning’s work, we were treated by a resident peacock with the show of his full fan. A happy morning indeed.

Salty Dog gets a shower

Showers of cool, cool water

Mr. Peacock gives us show

Visit the next blog to see video from the day!

The End 🙂

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