So there isn’t plenty of information readily available with regards to sheering your alpacas. It has taken us a vast amount of time to work out what exactly works for us and what doesn’t. We have therefore decided to share some of our knowledge with you, our readers, in an attempt to educate you and offer you some help and guidance.
First off it is important to understand that shearing an Alpaca and a sheep are exceptionally different. For starters their coat quality is different and the length of coat is different. Their coat is also divided differently and obviously you must account for the long neck. Alpacas are also not as easily manipulated and rotated for sheering which means you must have completely mobile shearers.
It is important to note that you cannot use sharp blade knives or standard scissors – Yes, I kid you not, I have had people ask me this before.
First off Lets start off with Equipment
When shearing, we recommend that you make use of portable power shears. These generally have their motor in the handle part of the shear opposed to commercial sheep shearers which have a stationary motor that is usually attached to a stand or ceiling. Your shearer comes with 3 basic parts, The hand piece, the comb, and the cutters. The comb is essentially there to separate the fleece. These come with different numbers of teeth. The higher the amount of teeth the closer the cut, the lower the amount of teeth the more coat that is left behind. Cutters generally have 4 points and are held firmly against the comb by means of an arm. These are usually the first to lose their sharpness and become blunt. They need to be replaced after every alpaca. You need to replace your comb after about every third alpaca so always purchase more cutters.
It is vitally important to ALWAYS keep our equipment sharp for the safety of your animals and for your own safety.
Most injuries are caused by the comb being forced down too tightly against your alpacas skin which causes skin wrinkling. This in turn means the comb can puncture the skin, the skin then rides up to the cutter and this is when a big laceration is formed. This is obviously something that you want to rather avoid. The comb is the only part of the shearer that is supposed to come into contact with the alpaca. You can avoid this but ensuring that you do not “dig” the shears into your alpaca.
Another thing we have learned is that if you prep the fleece properly first then the whole shearing processes happens better and easier. You can use a prop vac to remove excess dirty and vegetation that the fleece has picked up.
Remember that there are several different techniques that you can apply when you are shearing. We highly recommend that you attend a course or two where professionals can help you. It is easier to pick up tips when someone is standing there showing you how to do it properly. As you want to cause the least amount of trauma to your animal, it is worth spending the money.
We hope that this article has somewhat enlightened you and that you will have a good shearing season.