Shearing: Methods

Shearing: the basics | Preparation  | Methods  | Pricing | REQUEST SHEARING | 2014 Schedule

Alpacas: I use the the ropes shearing restraint system and shear alpacas on a soft mat. This is a very safe and quick method, and causes minimal stress to the animal.  I bring a headholder, and ask you to be ready to perform fiber collection, with bags labelled for firsts, seconds, thirds, and baggies for micron testing, if so desired.  I include hoof trims in the process, and can also do tooth trimming if you wish (also included in cost); for this I use a dremel and take care to sculpt the teeth so as not to leave sharp edges.

Llamas: I normally shear llamas standing up. Please have a fitting halter and a lead rope available for the llama. If you can provide a chute, this can be helpful but is not essential.  One helper is required to ensure that both shearer and animal are kept safe.  About one in every hundred llamas simply will not tolerate being handled and becomes so violent and agitated that safe removal of the fleece is not possible.  In these cases, the safest approach is to request a sedative from your veterinarian (or request that your veterinarian be present).  A chute can also greatly help in such a situation.

Sheep: I normally shear using the New Zealand method (animal on the ground), because this allows for maximum efficiency of movement and maximum stretch of skin (and thus minimal chance of nicking).  Some older and some very overweight animals do not tolerate being turned on their bottoms and I can shear them standing, if you wish.

Goats: I have sheared goats on a fitting stand, on the ground New Zealand style, and tied with ropes like an alpaca.  My preferred method is to shear goats like alpacas.  I have found this is the least stressful to them, and gets the cleanest fiber cut.  I ordinarily use 20 tooth combs to shear goats, because this greatly reduces the chances of cutting their very thin skin.  The downside is that such a densely-toothed comb takes longer to move through the fiber, especially greasy angora fiber.  Most owners seem to prefer that their animals not be cut to the advantage of speed.

Pigs:  No, I don’t shear pigs!  But occasionally people ask me to trim their pigs’ hooves and I am happy to do this provided the pigs can be adequately restrained.  Pigs do not enjoy this process, even though it is not painful, so you should be prepared for some loud vocalizations.

I am not equipped to trim cow or horses’ hooves, but am glad to make referrals.

Philosophy

Fiber animals need to have their fiber removed on a regular basis in order to remain healthy.   This process need not be stressful or unpleasant, but sometimes past bad experiences make an animal wary, fearful, or even violent.  I love animals and will treat your with the same care that I do my own.   I try to work quickly and efficiently, but speed is not my primary goal:  safe and painless removal of the fleece is, and sometimes this requires taking a break or changing the shearing position in order to accommodate your animal’s particular needs, or even talking or singing to the animal.  I shear for both pet/hobby flocks and production flocks, and I use the accepted professional shearing methods, but I am not a “production shearer”.

Shearing time is a good time to evaluate your animal’s body condition.  I am not trained in veterinary medicine, and so any observations I may report to you are from a shepherd’s point of view – but shearing allows me access to most of the exterior areas of your animal and so it is an optimal time to do close observation and I will be glad to report to you anything that I see.  I encourage you to stay close by during shearing so that you can also observe.  Ordinarily I also do hoof trims at the same time, but I do not recommend administering medications or deworming your animals on the same day as shearing.

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