Most alpacas in the UK are sheared during May to July. This is an essential part of husbandry once a year for Huacayas, every one or two years for Suris depending on the owners preference.
Note that the local sheep shearer may not have the skill or equipment to shear your alpaca well; alpacas’ skin is finer and can be cut easily so book a professional alpaca shearer in advance, they are very busy during this period.
Shearers are happy to shear in small numbers but this can make the overall cost higher, if you can join with other owner/s, especially if one has a suitable barn then this would reduce costs. Vaccinations, toe nails and teeth trimming can all be done at the same time for a very small charge.
If done professionally there will be little stress for your alpacas, they are normally sheared lying on their side with the front and hind legs tethered. Then the handler holds the head as the shearer shears off one side, rolls the alpaca and shears to the other side. The whole process should about six minutes causing little distress.
If you do not shear then you could cause unnecessary health problems to your alpaca such as mites and mange.
After shearing it is essential you skirt and pack your fleece carefully so it's ready for you to sell or use to make something wonderful!
Here are the contact details for two shearers that operate in the South West:
Colin Ottery: 07773440354
Allen Muriel: 07870612559
or contact Alpacas of Cornwall at firstname.lastname@example.org and quote 'shearing'
In preparation for the 2019 shearing season, due to the pandemic, BAS issued some guidelines which are below.
BAS also issued a 'pass' for all shearers, in agreement with APHA/DEFRA so they could travel for their work.
As usual shearing will be at the mercy of the weather.
If you have vaccinations done at shearing, then it may be prudent to order your clostridial product now, in case supplies run short in this crisis.
Plan for a slower process.
Being more careful will probably means shearing takes longer. Don’t fight that - better to be careful than quick.
Keep your distance from you co-workers.
Set up a system that means one person can move alpacas into the holding area before shearing.
Generally, two people lift the alpaca off its feet and lie the alpaca on its side. This can be done on the floor or on a table. As shearers are generally contractors, work out a way of restraining the alpaca with only farm labour or only the contracting team so that you don’t need to get too close to each other.
The shearer and handler will be closer than 2 m as they handle the alpaca. If these two people are someone from the farm and someone from the contracting team the they should both wear masks. Masks reduce the risk of an infected person spreading virus.
Think about your system for skirting and storing fleeces so that you can keep a safe distance from each other.
Plan where your shearing contractor is going to stay if they need accommodation
Be particularly careful at mealtimes by planning how you are going to serve food and maintain distance.
Make sure appropriate facilities are available
Hand washing facilities need to be available with hot water and soap for everyone.
Each worker should have their own towel or use disposable towels.