Our shearer is amazing. Very quick and efficient which reduces stress on the animals. He has shorn for us the last 3 years and when we were first getting into alpacas, we helped him shear at 4 other farms for experience. He arrived at 8:00am last Saturday and did not take a break until everyone was shorn by 1:30pm. We make sure to have all the shearing supplies ready the night before to help things run more smoothly.
Picture above is some of our supplies for shearing. We make sure to have large clear plastic bags, large leaf bags, small sandwich bags, markers, fiber bins (round fold up hampers), brooms and dustpans, shots drawn and ready, toe nail trimmers, dremmel, bloodstop powder, halters, knee pads, lots of towels (for holding the mouth open when trimming teeth and for alpacas that pee when they are being shorn), and old socks. Some of the alpacas scream and/or spit when they are being shorn. If they are a spitter, we place an old sock over their muzzle to prevent us being covered in dark green, oozing, smelly spit. All alpacas don't need the sock and it does not harm them in any way. Our Snowflake got the award for loudest,'spitiest' alpaca this year. She screamed like she was being murdered and brought up so much dark green smelly spit, she filled an entire sock. Pictured below is the filled sock. Very disgusting and was later trashed.
During shearing, we started with the two overdue females in case the stress of shearing induced labor (which for us did not work unfortunately...they both had their crias 3 days later). For shearing, we strap the alpacas legs and stretch them out on the floor. The shearer shears one side and then flips them and does the other (we are very careful when doing this with very pregnant females so we prevent uterine torsion). Other people help with flipping, holding the head and legs, pulling and breaking the ropes that the alpacas are strapped to, and collecting fiber. We collect the blanket first, which is the prime fiber and place it in its own bag with the name and date for each alpaca. We also take a small fiber sample to send away to have tested for each alpaca. Then we collect the "seconds" which are the rump, hips, and neck fiber and place them in a bag together. Then we collect the "thirds" which are leg, belly and face fiber which get trashed because it is often short and full of sand and debris. We also took one "show blanket" this year from our herdsire Smokey. For this, we spread out a sheet and the shearer shears the blanket in one complete chunk onto the sheet. Then we folded the sheet over the blanket and roll the blanket up in the sheet so it stays in tact. We later unrolled the sheet and are letting the blanket dry before we skirt it for a show. Also, when the alpacas are strapped to the floor, we give them any shots they are due for, trim their toe nails, and trim their teeth with a dremmel or OB wire if they need it.