Volunteers shearing day stations
- Step one all begins with the alpacas doing what they do best…
eat grass, grow fiber and be peaceful and content.
Until it’s shearing day, that’s when all the alpacas are scheduled for their annual haircuts. The new hair cut will be a style more suited for summer heat. The fiber that comes off the alpacas will be our annual harvest.
We make sure the alpacas are on the grass for about 2 -3 weeks before shearing. Being on the fields of grass helps to remove the unwanted vegetation and loosen some of the dirt they are so fond of rolling in.
Station 1: Alpaca Handlers
As an alpaca handler your job will be to walk the alpacas from the field or stall to the grooming station.
Move on, after the grooming station, to the alpacas waiting area. The next station is the shearing mat so keep the alpaca calm by talking soothing words and gentle hugs.
- After shearing, walk the alpaca back to their living quarters on the farm.
- Repeat with another alpaca
Station 2: Groomers
Once alpacas are in the grooming station they will be cleaned up
- Cleaning the alpaca involves a special tool that is “combed” or “tapped” across the fibers to knock out the unwanted vegetable matter (aka: VM)
Another tool is the vacuum. Gently applying suction to the fleece to remove deep down dust. This is a delicate operation as we don’t want to disturb the structure of the fleece.
|* We put the vacuum in the hay loft so the sound is up high. We use a long hose to come from up above to avoid having the alpaca’s legs being touched by the hose.|
Station 3: Shearing Mat
The alpaca is presented to the shearer, Nathan, and he will restrain the alpaca’s legs and lay the alpaca gentle on the mat.
- As Nathan is shearing, the volunteer on the mat, will place a plastic sheet on the floor to catch the fibers. The prime coat will be “noodled”, or rolled like a sleeping bag and placed inside this plastic sheet and the whole thing is placed in a bag that has been labeled “1st”.
- 2nds go in another bag, this bag is labeled “2nd”
- 3rds go in yet another bag. And you got it the bag is labeled “3rds”
See the chart above that shows where the fibers are located on the alpaca. If you are unsure just ask the shearer.
Another gallon size bag with the alpacas name and some information will follow the alpaca. The shearer, Nathan, will pull a side sample. It’s a very important piece of fiber as this will go for testing which costs money and gives us lots of information about this alpaca. We use this information to rank our alpacas, decide who will go to show, which alpacas to breed. Very important information. Please place the side sample fiber in the gallon bag as Nathan pulls it off the alpaca.
Sweep all the leftover fibers off the mat and into a black trash bag.
- Make sure the toe nails, teeth or medications have been taken care of as was noted.
**Some alpacas really don’t like the process of being sheared so they spit and spit a lot. A sock over their nose helps to keep the fresh fiber and people from being stained from the green goobers that they spit. If you have a single sock with no match, then this is a good place to make a donation.
Station 4: Fiber Room
A spreadsheet has been provided with all the information needed for this alpaca.
Make 4 bags for each alpaca, and a plastic sheet, for noodle
Write the name on the 4 bags, each bag looks different : (gallon size bag – side sample ), (largest bag -prime), (blue bag – 2nds), ( red pull strings- 3nds)
Make sure the shearer has all the storage bags needed for this alpacas
Give bags to station 3: shearing mat volunteers
After the bags have been filled, weight them and record like this: prime coat weight, 2nds and 3rds together weight, and all fleece from the alpaca. 1st _____, 2 & 3 _____ , 1,2,3 ________.
- The fleece has a destination box. Tie the Prime bag and 2nd blue bag using the red handle 3rds bag that belong to the same alpaca. Place in the color coded matching box.
We have so much fun and get the job done because of you, our valued volunteers. Thanks