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March 22, 2016

By: Team HCAS

Shearing Day Guide

"Wow, Those Guys Were Good"

Shearing day is one of the most important days of the year for any alpaca owner. It can be a hectic and stressful time, but it doesn't have to be. With the proper preparation and good teamwork, stress on the owner and the animal can be and should be minimal. In fact, we believe that you should be able to look back and say "Wow, that's the way it should be done. Those guys were good".

During the shearing process, SAFETY IS THE NUMBER ONE CONCERN for ourselves, you and the animals. By understanding our individual roles, utilizing good teamwork and everyone working toward a common goal we can assure that you and your animal get the most positive experience possible. Steady and methodical trumps hurried and scattered any day.

The owner's responsibilities
Be prepared. Planning ahead reduces stress to the animals and owners.
• Provide adequate space for shearing and fiber collection.
• Provide adequate power, lighting and ventilation.
• Provide adequate help to collect and label the fiber.
• Provide adequate food, snacks and plenty of water for the team.

The shearer's responsibilities
• Notify client of arrival time.
• Provide mats and all necessary equipment.
• Brief clients and helpers on procedures for shearing.
• Set a realistic pace for the shearing process.

Preparation before shearing day?
Preparation begins the night before. Weather is always an issue and concern in this business. If it looks like there is going to be rain or inclement weather, please do all you can to keep your animal dry. A wet alpaca cannot be shorn.
The cleaner your alpacas are on shearing day, the better will be your fiber harvest. There are many schools of thought and techniques for pre-cleaning, so whatever works best for you works best for us.
If you will be administering shots on shearing day, please be prepared in advance.

Here is a list of Items to have on hand on the day of shearing
• Towels: some throw away towels are very useful for the spitting/peeing that will inevitably occur.
• Lighting source: if the shearing area is naturally very dark this is useful to keep things well lit.
• Sweeping brush: fiber gets everywhere, and a good broom can keep it under control.
• Halters/leads to insure safe and efficient movement of the animals.
• Fleece bags: any fiber samples will need small sandwich bags, and fiber will need to be bagged according to how you want to use it.
• Permanent marker: helps in marking the bags for identification
• Record chart: if you are doing shots or any herd health work and want to record this info.
• Water/drinks: to keep hydrated

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Is there any order in which the alpacas should be shorn?
Many people like to shear from lightest animals to darkest animals.
Some like to do males first then females or vice versa.
Others will shear whoever happens to be closest!
This makes no difference to us and is simply a fiber consideration to prevent contamination.

How much help will I need?
That will depend on several things: the herd size, your farm layout, your physical strengths or weaknesses, etc.
* Note: For the 2013 season we will be running one (1) mat and restraint system.
The shearer and the head holder will perform most of the physical work, however it is very helpful to have a 3rd hand to assist in restraining the animal.
• Short answer: Able body, good knees, good back.
For smaller farms , 2 or 3 helpers will be sufficient.
For larger farms, more helpers may be needed.
It is more important that each helper have a job to do and can perform that job efficiently.

What is the routine for shearing day?
• We will call you prior to our arrival to give you sufficient time to stage animals to be shorn. Holding pen(s) close to the shearing station work well. Haltering the first animals to be shorn prior to our arrival is most helpful.
• We will set up the shearing station and brief your crew on tasks and expectations for the day.
• "Git-r-done" Pretty simple.

What about pregnant females and crias?
Many of the females shorn are in different stages of pregnancy and tolerate shearing with no problems. If you have questions or concerns regarding shearing pregnant females, your vet, mentors or other alpaca owners are your best resource. We handle All animals gently and with the utmost care, regardless of their condition.

Shearing cria is a breeder's personal choice. Many breeders are beginning to realize the benefits of "cria tipping" and are incorporating it into their herd management and fiber quality program. We shear many crias each year and treat them with the same respect as we do the adults. It is best to keep the mother close to the shearing to minimize stress for both.

In Conclusion
We hope that this little "Shearing Day Guide" has provided you with enough information and direction to help you get through one of the most historically stressful days in an alpaca breeder's life. But realistically speaking, we know you still may have questions or concerns that we may not have addressed.

Please feel free to contact us by email or phone anytime:
John Fifield
505-788-2260 [Ranch]
928-245-8482 [Cody]