Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cria Clipping

In the past, all of our crias were born in the late summer/early fall, so we never felt the need to shear them as they would need their soft dense fiber to stay warm during our harsh Michigan winters. This year, our crias are all due in the spring and summer, so we have decided to shear them for several reasons. The first and most important reason is to keep them cool during our hot and humid summer. These little guys can overheat just like the adults, so we want to make sure they stay cool. The second reason is to clip off all the "cria tips," which is the fiber that they are born with and that was exposed to the amniotic fluid in utero. These fiber tips are very light and wispy and pick up lots of debris like poo, sticks, hay, etc. and makes it very difficult to pick out for shows next spring and for processing the fiber. The fiber appears more dense and uniform when the crias are sheared as well, which helps them in the show rings.

We called around looking for someone to shear our little Riphaeus this spring, but had a difficult time find someone who shears in the area. We didn't want to have our regular shearer come down from his home a few hours north just to shear one cria. We decided to try it ourselves as the weather is getting very warm now. We tied Riphaeus down just like we do with the large animals. We first tried human hair clippers, but the blade was not powerful enough to get through the dense fiber. A friend of ours had mentioned that she "shears" her dogs with horse shears/clippers. She let us borrow them and they worked really well. We could use more practice and it took us about a half hour and he looks a little choppy, but all in all, I think we did a great job our first time shearing an alpacas...even if he was only 25 lbs. We also helped another farm shear their cria as well. We are looking into buying our own horse shears to do the rest of the cria, or possibly a pair of large shears to eventually do all our own alpacas. We will see.

Here are some sheared pictures of Riphaeus:

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