We understand that the responsibility of orchestrating shearing day logistics can be overwhelming to some. The thought of orchestrating a seamless shearing session and fiber harvest while ensuring the comfort and well-being of your cherished animals can certainly be quite the task. From making sure to set the proper environment to having the necessary supplies and help at the ready, every detail counts in creating a positive experience for your animals, yourself, and the shearing team.
Our goal is to keep the whole process as low-stress and smooth as possible.
On this page, we’ll lay out what we’ll require when we arrive as well as other helpful suggestions so you can take the guessing out of your preparations. So take a deep breath and rest assured that this process can be transformed from a stressful ordeal into a well-coordinated, smooth operation.
By taking the time to implement these recommendations, you'll not only streamline the process but also contribute to the overall well-being of your animals during this significant annual event.
What we ask of you:
We will need access to power! Please make sure that there will be access to power within 100ft. We do have a portable generator that we can bring along if needed, but we don’t keep it with us in the van unless we know ahead of time that it will be needed.
Dry animals! While we can shear wet alpacas/llamas if needed, we ask that you take what steps you can to keep them dry for at least the 24 hours leading up to your shearing appointment. If it looks like it may rain overnight, consider putting them in if your layout allows for it.
The best shearing area setup usually provides a dry, semi-flat, shaded area of at least 20x20 feet. In full sun, our mats and other gear get quite hot and uncomfortable for your animals and us, so shade is essential on hot days. We’re usually pretty good at figuring out a setup that works well once we arrive, so don’t sweat it too much if you don’t have a big open area for shearing; just let us know so we can plan accordingly.
Please have the animals penned/contained before our arrival. It’s usually best to have the animals penned up at least an hour before shearing, as being chased around and corralled immediately before shearing can lead to unneeded stress on the animals. And it’s important to note that oftentimes, once we arrive, your alpacas may not come in for grain or when called as easily as they normally do. When a group of unfamiliar faces shows up and starts setting up work stations and moving things around, the alpacas will often grow extra cautious.
Helpful things to have:
Bags for the fiber. You will need 2-3 bags for each animal to hold the shorn fleece. The best bags to use are clear plastic garbage bags so you can see what’s in them. Many farms will use permanent marker to mark what’s in each bag (e.g., name of animal and quality of fleece).
Towels/rags/paper towels are always great to have on hand in case an animal pees or spits excessively where the fleece will be coming off on the mat.
Livestock fan – if it’s hot out, your animals, shearers, and helpers will appreciate fans to keep the air moving.
Bottled water, sports drinks, etc. – drinks are always appreciated (but certainly not required.)
We operate a two-mat system for any farm with more than two alpacas, meaning that while I (Jeffrey) am shearing one alpaca, my team will prepare the next one for me at the other station. This limits the amount of time each alpaca has to be stretched out, reducing the stress on the animal, as well as keeping things moving in an efficient manner. All of the savable fiber will be sheared by me, so as long as someone is following me to save any fiber you’d like to save, you should be good to go. Note: Many farms find it helpful to have one person at each mat to collect fiber so one person doesn’t have to walk back and forth with me – but either way works perfectly fine and is up to your discretion.
Things we’d ask to avoid
Touching the clippers and cord. We do ask that any fiber baggers and helpers remain conscious of keeping hands, bodies, brooms, etc., clear from the clippers as we shear.
Grabbing or pulling fiber that is still being sheared. We ask that anyone bagging fiber will be conscious of pulling fiber away too early as it can affect the shearing, pull the animal’s skin up, and increase the chance of causing a cut from the clippers.
Putting socks on the alpaca's snout. Many people will throw around the “helpful tip” of putting a sock on alpacas during shearing to block any spit. But we strongly advise against this. Not only does it get in the shearer's way, but it can also restrict the breathing of the animal, especially when the material gets wet. Spitting is a normal thing for camelids, and we’re used to dealing with it. If you’re concerned with spit getting on the mat where the fiber will be, try just having some towels close by to wipe it away instead.
We do our best to make things as simple and smooth as possible. Hopefully, this page helped clear up some of your questions about shearing day. If you are concerned about anything or have any special circumstances you'd like addressed while we're onsite, just let us know and we'll plan ahead!
We are always available to answer questions both before we begin and while we’re working, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have.
We’re looking forward to working with you soon!