John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpaca Shearing

Alpaca Shearing is an annual event for alpaca owners. Like sheep, alpacas need to be shorn for their health. Unlike sheep, the alpaca's "wool" is a valuable commodity. Paying for shearing can get spendy, so we decided to learn to do it ourselves.



Start Shearing

Alpaca shearing was pretty much a black art when we began, with hardly any information on the subject available. It took a lot of work to gather what information is in these pages. Some came from hands on instruction, but most through experience. It is our belief that this information, first compiled in 1999, comprises the most comprehensive set of instructions on alpaca shearing that is currently available.

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Shearing Equipment

To shear an alpaca, you must first understand the tools, in this case power shears, combs and cutters. This will help to ensure the safety of your alpacas and yourself.

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The Shearing Handpiece

Alpaca Shearing begins with the assembly of the hand-piece. For proper operation and to enhance the life of the equipment, and to ensure the safety of both the alpaca and the shearer, the comb and cutters must be properly aligned and tensioned.

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Combs, Cutters and Injuries

Alpaca Shearing injuries are often as much a matter of a lack of knowledge of the equipment as faulty technique. Shearing equipment is a marvel of design. Let the tools do the work.

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Alpaca Shearing Mishaps

Alpaca shearing mishaps were inevitable, since Susan and I we were both inept and clueless about shearing when we first began. We had purchased seriously under-powered clippers and had seriously underestimated the number of ways an alpaca could find to be uncooperative. The two paragraphs of instructions in the “Clip Care” manual from the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative did not adequately prepare us for what we were about to undertake.

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More Alpaca Shearing Mishaps

Alpaca Shearing is very different than shearing sheep Sheep are dumb, something that cannot be said about alpacas. Sheep are docile and submissive. The main secret with a sheep is that if the shearer keeps their feet off of the floor, they won't try to get up. After that it is all about positioning and being comfortable with the equipment. I approached the task with a new level of self confidence.

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Alpaca Shearing Preparation

Alpacas that spend a full year running around in a pasture full of foxtails, black-berry vines and thistles will have a fleece that no amount of grooming or skirting will make usable. The best alpaca fleece comes from the cleanest pastures.

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Alpaca Shearing Techniques

Alpaca shearers have developed a number of techniques. Four approaches to alpaca shearing are illustrated here. Control of the alpaca is essential while shearing, providing efficiency and safety for the animal and the shearer.

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Alpaca Shearing Blow Diagrams

Alpaca shearing is most efficient when the shearer uses a consistent approach to getting the fleece off of the alpaca. With practice the pattern of blows comes automatically.

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Shear Sharpening Services

Shear Sharpening Services for combs and cutters. Fast turnaround for low prices. Gateway Farm Alpacas now offers do-it-yourself shearers the opportunity to keep their combs and cutters conveniently sharpened.

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Alpaca Sales

"...a benignant-looking old man, very shabby, in an alpaca jacket, with a rusty velvet cap on his head, and very bright short-sighted eyes behind round spectacles..."

Robert Benson
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