Though usually referred to as “fiber”, alpaca fleece is an exceptionally thermal and thick form of wool. More valuable than sheep’s wool, alpaca fiber is prized for its warmth, high tensile strength, and is lacking lanolin, which creates the “itch factor” in sheep’s wool clothing. Alpaca fibers are hollow, which means materials made with alpaca tend to wick sweat away from the body.
But even for alpacas kept as pets, regular shearing is an important part of their overall health. Alpacas do not shed their fleece naturally and unshorn animals can overheat during the summer months. Most alpacas need to be shorn annually, but some individual animals with slower growing fleece may wait almost two years between shearings. Younger cria usually receive their first “haircut” at around six to eight months old.
Because alpacas have a rigid backbone, they cannot be shorn by sitting them on their backside like sheep. While there are some shearing techniques that allow the alpaca to remain standing, we recommend the “side shearing” position, with the animal on its side, both fore- and hind-limbs restrained. This prevents any sudden movements on the part of the alpaca which could lead to a nasty cut with sharp shearing blades!
Shearing is generally a three-person job, with one person using the clippers, another to hold the head and neck, and a third to clean up loose fiber and keep an eye on the animal’s hindquarters. One side is shorn at a time, then the alpaca is gently turned to trim the other side. Finally, the restraining ropes are released somewhat to get the animal’s legs, chest and neck. We generally trim our alpacas into a “show cut”, leaving a tuft of fiber on the head between the ears and forward to above the eyes. A fluffy “pom pom” is left on the tail as well. Legs are trimmed down to the knee area.
Need help shearing your alpacas? We can do that!
Just give us a call at 815-646-1300 or send us a message on Facebook.
Tiskilwa Farms Alpacas, LLC, Tiskilwa, Illinois
(Located between Wyanet, Tiskilwa, and Buda, Illinois)
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CONVENIENT NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS LOCATION
Over 100 quality alpacas for breeding and sale. Located 5 miles south of Interstate 80 on a ridge overlooking the Illinois River Valley, we welcome farm tours by appointment most any time.