A few years ago I took up my friend’s offer of guidance during our first try at shearing our alpacas. Hubby did better than I did; it was really hard feeling and seeing where I was going on their bodies under the fleece and I was scared of slicing them open.
We averaged 40 minutes per alpaca. It was a great experience to learn how to shear them but 40 minutes is a huge amount of time for the poor guys to be shackled on a table while I fluff around. I can only imagine a year on that time would blow out while trying to remember how to go about making them nude without the experienced supervision.
The shearers come complete with their own gear - table, generator, clippers and this year extra eye candy in the form of Quinton from the USA on a working visa helping them.
The table and shackles holding the alpaca look like some medieval torture rack but I can assure you it is not harming the animal in fact it is the gentlest and best way to stop the alpaca from hurting itself while being shorn, especially for alpacas not used to being handled. An alpaca looks to be a cuddly gentle animal but in fact can be very feisty, they also spit the foulest smelling cud when feeling confronted.
Years ago my husband met a man who wrapped himself in rubber foam sheets secured together with packaging tape around his body. I sort of have the Michelin man in mind when I think of this. He then sheared his alpacas in a standing position; their heads tied to a post so they couldn’t cush (sit down). They kicked out at him but the rubber absorbed the blows.
To try to shear an alpaca in the same manner as a sheep would hurt the ‘paca’s back and be extremely difficult and uncomfortable on the shearer due to the animals size.
With the temperature about to skyrocket into the low to mid 30 degrees Celsius I bet my boys will be glad of the indignity of being hoisted on a table and being undressed.