After 8 years of alpaca shearing and 9 years in the alpaca business, we have sold off our alpacas due to a serious illness, (Sarcoidosis). We will no longer be able to offer alpaca shearing services. However, we have captured the secrets of Tom’s alpaca shearing expertise in our alpaca care DVD along with detailed information on the use and adjustment of alpaca shearing equipment. Learn to shear alpacas like a pro and add another source of income to your alpaca farm. Let us teach you how to shear alpacas.
Alpaca Shearing – Photos
Tom has been shearing alpacas for 8 years. Many of the fleeces shorn by him have won 1st places, and 2nd places at the Eastern Alpaca Jubilee, the Great Frederick Fair and the Howard County Fair. He attended the Maryland Sheep Breeders’ Sheep Shearing School in 1999 for extra shearing experience. He also did shearing demos at Eastern Alpaca Jubilee 2003.
Safe Use of the Alpaca Shearing Table
by Tom Perez
A minimum of two persons are needed to use the alpaca shearing table to maximize your control of the alpaca and the safety of your animals and handlers.
Handler #1 (H1) walks the animal alongside the table stopping in front of the outside shoulder of alpaca. H1 holds lead close to chin and places the same hand on the vertical table. This controls and secures the alpaca’s head. Pregnant females are stopped slightly back so that the belly strap supports alpaca about the chest (not the abdomen).
Handler #2 (H2), usually the shearer, places the body strap around the alpaca and secures it to the shearing table hook on the back, top & middle of the table’s edge (the upper portion of the body strap will need to be moved aside to find the hook). Be very cautious to NEVER place fingers inside of the ring when attempting to place the ring on the hook. Then place the rear leg restraints past the first joint(s) above the alpaca’s hoof. Clip the restraints to the restraining bar closest to the floor and pull the strap to secure the legs one at a time, leaving no slack.
H1 now moves around to the side of the shearing table near the alpaca’s head and always keeps hand contact with the alpaca’s head (towel to cushion the alpaca’s head on the table).
H2 tilts the shearing table to the horizontal position. The front leg restraints can then be fastened and secured. Restraints should firmly stretch the alpaca but don’t overdo!.
The belly strap can now be unhooked and lifted from the alpaca for shearing
When the first side of the alpaca is shorn, the animal is turned on its belly to present the other side for shearing. Prior to turning you need to slide the alpaca toward the top of the shearing table (away from the shearer) in order to have room to roll the alpaca towards you. Then, make sure the alpaca’s head is not tied to the table, and relax the leg restraints slightly by adding a few inches of slack. Reach over the alpaca’s back and grab the animal by the blanket and pull gently to turn the alpaca over on its belly, while the handler holding and controlling the head brings the head low over the table to the other side of the table. Leg restraints should then be unclipped and moved to the other set of restraining bars. Readjust the straps to firmly stretch the animal (not overdone). The head may be tied to the adjacent corner of the table. Tied or not tied the head should never be left without someone’s firm hand resting on it!
After the alpaca is shorn, the belly strap that will support the chest and abdomen is re-attached and pulled to secure the alpaca to the table. The front leg restraints can then be removed.
H1 – comes around and places self adjacent to and in front of the alpaca, while maintaining control of the head. Stay in this position to support and firmly control the head, while the table is turned and the alpaca is untied. Keep head against the table and wait for the shearer to release alpaca.
H2 – releases the table lock and gently returns the shearing table to its vertical position. He then removes the rear leg restraints one at a time. Recommended technique – Kneel on one knee and pick up both rear legs of alpaca and rest them just above your other knee. Have a firm grip on the legs in case the animal tries to pull legs from you. Slack the restraints and slip them off one at a time. When both are free gently bring them down to the floor. Then release the belly sling and untie the alpacas head. The handler then can now move the alpaca away from the shearing table, and others can step back.