No matter if you are breeding alpacas to sell the fleece or simply have them as pets shearing is a necessary part of being an alpaca owner. Shearing keeps the alpacas healthy and comfortable. Here are some of the common questions asked when it comes to shearing alpacas.
1. When are they sheared and how often?
Alpacas are typically shorn once a year right before summer. This is most ideal time of the year because it keeps them cooler in the summer and gives them time to grow their coats back nice and fluffy for the winter. Alpacas only really need to be shorn once a year because their fleece provides more than enough material to last throughout the year for products. Unlike cashmere or other types of wool that need the animals to be shorn regularly to the point that it may be harmful for the animals.
2. How do you shear alpacas?
Shearing alpacas is a process that can take all day if the herd is big enough. Alpacas must first be positioned to lay on their side. They are then shorn on that side and flipped over to be shorn on the other side. During this process it’s best for their legs to be bound and their head to be held in order to prevent them from moving and being harmed by the blades. The process of shearing an alpaca is best done with at least 3 people to help. During this time when the alpacas are bound it’s also a good time for them to be vaccinated or trim their toenails and teeth.
3. Does it hurt them?
To cut right to the chase, no it does not hurt them. Alpacas are not hurt in the process of being shorn. It’s actually better for them in the long run to prevent overheating in the summer and trim down the hair that sometimes covers their eyes obstructs their view. Getting their toenails and teeth trimmed is also a good practice for them as well. So while it may be a stressful time for them it does not harm them and the lasting benefits are hard to deny.
A very common misconception with shearing animals is that it hurts them and some would even argue that we should not shear them at all. Shearing alpacas yearly is not only good for them, but very necessary for their health and well-being. Shearing helps to stay cool in the summer and gives them time to grow back their coat for winter. While shearing may not be their favorite activity it's an important part of taking care of these wonderful animals.