Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shearing Day 2009

For shearing this year we took all our alpacas over to Ashton Stone alpacas, where the shearer came to shear all of our alpacas. On Friday night we made 2 trips, first brought over the girls, then the boys. We could have fit everyone in on one trip, but decided it best to keep boys and girls separate. Ashton Stone has a nice big barn and could fit everyone. We were worried because rain was predicted for Friday night, but we got everyone in the barn fine. Of course, then it didn't rain.

Sancha was due with her cria on shearing day, and we had hoped shearing might induce her. No baby yet. Ashton Stone had one due a couple weeks before shearing day, and she also did not deliver (though she may be doing so today - I hope!).

This shearer has a rope set up that lays on the ground. Last year we used a table so this was a different set up. I thought the ground would be worse but we found it to be even better. It was much less strain on our backs and it seemed to hold the alpacas better (no fear of them slipping since they were already on the ground). It was a huge help to have Ashton Stone there too, so there were more adults around to help (last year we counted a lot on the kids and our nieces, who were a great help but not quite like having other adults there).

Everything went well and everyone got shorn. I got some pictures of Shelby strapped up and in process of shearing:

During shearing one person holds the alpacas head. All legs are pulled in ropes so that they cannot move. Some alpacas really hate this and scream the entire time. We had a couple who spit (a sock over their mouth prevents spit from getting all over everyone who is there to help). Other alpacas lay there and just let us do the shearing without a sound. The alpaca does need to be flipped over so that all sides of them can be shorn. If they are very pregnant, like the 2 who were due on or before shearing day, you have to be careful flipping them so it does not create uterine torsion. For the girls who are less far along in their pregnancy it doesn't matter. Some alpacas need more holding, the squirmers do. Others are fine with just one person holding their head. Other helpers pull the rope and loosen the ropes as needed, and there are people gathering the fiber and putting it in bags.

We decided to weigh our alpacas before and after shearing so that we could get a total weight of what was shorn. We also weighed their prime fleece to find out how much blanket weight they have. You can trim their nails and teeth while they are strapped down (might as well do all those things you can). We had the fighting teeth on both Tucker and Apollo trimmed. You can also give shots, and any other herd health thing you desire.

Here are all the alpacas outside after being shorn:

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