Like many things through the years, shearing has changed a lot for us.
In 2007 our first alpacas arrived at our farm (in the fall, after shearing time).
So 2008 was our first experience shearing. We had 7 alpacas to shear :) We hired a local alpaca farmer who also did shearing.
That story is told in my blog post in May of 2008 ~ link here.
The next year, in the spring of 2009, we had more animals (11 total), and decided to shear along with another farm. They had been having a shearer come from out of town and we used their shearer (that way there was only one set up free that we split between our two farms), and it gave us more adult helpers. We had learned the year before that our kids were really too young to help out as much as we had thought. This way we had more adults to help, and we could help out with the other farm's animals too.
Our shearing day 2009 blog post can be found here.
I took pictures of each animal before and after and those can be found:
~ Pregnant girls before and after pictures (3 pregnant dams) ~ link here.
~ Maiden girls before and after pictures (4 maidens) ~ link here.
~ The boys before and after pictures (4 boys) ~ link here.
2010 shearing day was pretty much the same as 2009, with the addition of our having more alpacas (16). That blog post can be found here.
I took before and after pictures that can be found:
+ 4 pregnant dams ~ link here.
+ 4 maiden girls ~ link here.
+ 2 juvi boys ~ link here.
+ 6 herdsires ~ link here.
One thing you start to notice as you gain more alpacas is that the cost for shearing goes up. Most people in this area charge a $50 to $100 set up and mileage fee, then $25 to $30 per alpaca to shear, and add on another $5 per animal who needs their teeth trimmed. It was getting pricy.
There is also the issue that as more people have alpacas, those that are trained in shearing are in more demand, which makes it harder and harder to schedule shearing with someone. We were getting to the point we had too many animals to take them to the other farm. We also noticed our own kids were getting older and more able to help.
In 2011 we took the dive and started shearing our own - all 17 of them.
Here is my blog post from May of 2011 explaining how we set it up - link here.
I took before and after pictures that year too:
+ we started with our 4 herdsire boys that year because, well, who wants to experiment on a pregnant girl? yeah, the boys were our first experiment ~ link here.
+ then the 5 little juvis ~ link here.
+ and last the pregnant dams - all 8 of them!! ~ link here.
2012 we again did our own shearing, this time we had even more help from our kids. It sure is nice when they get older and can help more :)
We had 26 alpacas to shear in 2012!! Wow was that a lot of work. I did not get specific before and after pictures. It was all too busy. Here is the post from that shearing day.
After having the most alpacas we have ever had in 2012 (I believe our peek was 28 alpacas), we have cut back quite a bit for this year. We are stronger farmers when we have a smaller herd that is best able for us to manage. Right now we are at 18 alpacas (link to list of our herd), with 5 cria due this year. This is a good place for us to be.