Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shearing of the dams

We started shearing on Monday, and finished up today, Saturday. I love the before and after pictures because I think the transformation is so dramatic. They change so much! They go from these very furry creatures, to creatures that look very thin with incredibly long necks. This year we did all our shearing ourselves, so keep in mind when viewing these pictures that this was our first ever attempt at shearing ourselves.

We decided to start shearing with our open breeding age females. They are past the age at what point we'd take them to a show. So no worries if they doesn't look great after shearing. Pregnant girls have the additional risk during shearing of the cria in utero, so we didn't want to start with them. The boys we want to look nice so that we can advertise them for breeding. And, of course we want our show string to look their best, since they will be going to shows again this fall.

We have 8 breeding age females, of which three are open this year. Maddie, Latte and Miss Kitty are our open girls (though they have had cria in the past). Victoria, Kateri, Sancha, Tehya, and Snickers are all pregnant.

We started shearing with Latte. This was the first alpaca we have ever shorn on our own. Keeping this in mind, I don't think she looks half bad.

Latte Full Fleece:

Latte Shorn:

Maddie Full Fleece:

Maddie Shorn:

Miss Kitty Full Fleece:

Miss Kitty Shorn:

We knew when we brought Miss Kitty home that she was overweight and needed extensive work in order to be ready to breed. When we got her on the scale on shearing day, she weighed in at 251 pounds! The average weight for an alpaca is 160 pounds. The biggest alpaca I had seen prior to this was 230 pounds, and I thought he was big.

After we finished shearing the open females, we decided to start shearing the pregnant girls. Our concern was that the heat was causing them to be very uncomfortable, and we wanted their fiber off them to help cool them down. We started with Tehya. She was due any day (and actually had her cria the day after she was shorn). We knew she was very hot and uncomfortable, so we wanted to get that fiber off of her. There are times shearing a female can make her go into labor. Most of the time this will happen only if she is ready anyway. Rarely does shearing cause a premature labor (though it could). Our experience has been that typically a female due near shearing day will give birth in the day or two after shearing.

Tehya Full Fleece:

Tehya shorn - we did not finish her head and top knot because we were concerned that she was very agitated being shorn and we were worried labor had started. In fact I do think labor had started since she had that cria the next morning. But, we could have finished her head after all. We will trim her up with a scissors so we don't have to fully restrain her again this year.

By the time I got a shorn picture of her, her baby, Cheyenne, had been born. Cheyenne is next to Tehya here, and Tehya's mother, Kateri is behind them:

Snickers Full Fleece:

Snickers Shorn (I had a terrible time getting her to cooperate with the picture, this is the best I could do):

Kateri Full Fleece:

Kateri Shorn (she didn't want to pose for the picture so I have two sort of decent pictures):

Now that Snickers and Kateri are shorn, I really have a hard time telling them apart! I had a hard enough time when they were in full fleece, shorn is much worse. I know Kateri is a shade darker (she is brown when Snickers is fawn), but that can be hard to see if they aren't next to each other. The kids don't agree with me, but I even think their faces look quite a bit alike (of course they would not cooperate with a face shot, maybe another day):

The other thing about these two, now that they are shorn, we have concerns if they really are pregnant. Neither of them have what I could call a baby belly. And the past two years Kateri has had a huge cria belly (Snickers is new to our farm so we don't know how she's looked in the past). It could be that the cria is up in their ribs. Sancha is clearly pregnant, as is Victoria (and so was Tehya, who has since delivered). But Kateri and Snickers, I'm not 100% sure. Snickers was ultra sounded last fall, and was confirmed pregnant, but they can lose or absorb a pregnancy. For now, we will keep peeking at them, trying to see an obvious cria leg jut out their sides.

Sancha Full Fleece:

Sancha Shorn:

Victoria Full Fleece:

Victoria Shorn:

My favorite part of Victoria is her very woolly face, and her very dark eye lashes, that show up even more when she shorn:

Victoria has been acting strange lately. We've found her laying around a lot. She sometimes leans to one side. We believe she is just very uncomfortable with her pregnancy. We do not know why. During shearing she was very upset. Victoria is one who typically will run and make us catch her, but once we do, she surrenders. Lately she has been feisty like I've never seen her. She was very upset during shearing and screamed the entire time. I don't know if she really was hurting or if she was upset or what. We felt her belly after her shearing and the cria was moving around. We know she's pregnant and we know the cria is active, those are both good signs. Come to think of it, since she was shorn on Monday, I haven't noticed Victoria acting strange anymore. Maybe she was just that hot.


Louellen Lawson said...

I was just saying at knitting yesterday that I wanted an alpaca someday....
these pictures are not helping me fight the desire to get one. they are so cute.

Kathryn Ray said...

Nice job!

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

Louellen ~ wait until you see the juveniles shorn. At least to me, they are so cute!

Thanks, Kathryn. Our first year of shearing on our complete. Feels great!!


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