Alpaca Shearing – A Great Adventure
Alpaca Shearing Day A Great Time
Alpaca are one of those animals that look like big puffy marshmallows in the pasture, but as any good alpaca owner will quickly realize this puffiness can easily lead to the animal getting overheated at times and even having some heat stress problems in the middle of summer. With that being said, you should know more about what makes alpaca shearing a great time, outside of getting the chance to have your animals stay healthy and full of life.
Health Of The Animals Is A Great Goal With Shearing
The main goal, well at least at Sacred Mountain Farms, is to get the alpaca shorn to help protect their health. Yes, that is right we care about the animals and while they do hate the shearing we do this because it helps to improve the overall health of the animals. This is because it will take and remove a fur or in the alpaca case a fleece coat that comes in weighing about ten to twenty pounds. Not only does this make it easier on the animals joints, you need to realize it also removes a fur coat.
You may start to ask yourself, what a fur coat removal is going to do to help the animals and the answer is very easy. We live in Ohio and the weather during the summer is usually very hot and humid. Not many people, even the rich, would want to walk through town with a fur coat on, let alone one that weighs about 10 or more pounds. Just imagine being an animal that has to have that on in the summer months and how hot it would be and you can start to see why we have the animals shorn in the Spring months to help keep the fiber short during the summer, but long enough they are not phased come winter and fall.
Fiber For Us To Use
Just like every farm an animal has to serve a job and the alpaca are no different. They have a job of mowing the lawn for us. Well, that and they grow fiber that we use to make into yarn. The difference is the fiber that we get from the alpaca is raw and has to undergo multiple steps before it is ready to be sold. A lot of people forget this aspect and think the fiber just comes off the animals ready to go, but this is not the case. Since that is the case, we are going to cover the steps that are used for the process of getting the raw fiber to the yarn that you are able to buy or use.
Shearing Is The First Step
Obviously we cannot do a lot with the fiber when it is still on the animal. So we have to get the animals shorn to get the fiber off of them so we can use the fiber. That is what we have done early on in the spring and then this gives us the raw fiber. We usually have someone do the shearing for us because if you are not properly trained in the art of shearing the alpaca you can easily lose a lot of your harvest.
Skirting The Fiber
This process is a pain, but it is also the process that lets you know what kind of animals you have and what type of harvest you can expect to get. This process is where you are going to take and using a skirting table, we have a homemade table we use, and get rid of the debris and dirt that is in the fiber. The process can take quite a while depending on how clean your animals are and what is in the pasture they are in However, it is a great way for you to check out the fiber and see what kind of crimp is present.
Washing The Fiber
The next step is washing the fiber. This process can be tricky because if you are not careful you can easily felt your fiber. However, a little gentle washing will remove most of the debris and dirt that you were unable to get out when you were skirting the fiber. However, it is important that you use a mild detergent if any because it will felt quickly if you are not careful. We usually use a small wash basin to get ours washed in and this makes it quite easy to get the washing done. Something else that you need to consider is a separate type of drain for the washing because if you get to much debris it can cause a plug in your drain pipe.
Carding The Fiber
The Carding process will make it easier to start to get the fibers intertwined together. This process can take some time and a lot of the alpaca fiber mills have started to use a different type of drum carder. This allows the process to become mechanical almost and allows the machine to do the work, rather than the person who is operating the mill having to spend time and get everything done by hand. So this will definitely help out for a lot of people that are trying to get the carding done as the machine gets it done and gets it done quickly and in bulk.
This is the part that we all like because it finally is going to let us get the yarn that we want to have to sell! The yarn will be spun from the fiber and make into the different skeins that we all like or even the larger cones. Either way the spinning process gives us some of the best yarn possible and it makes it easier for us to get the yarn that we want to have and know it is going to work for our needs. Once the yarn is spun we are able to get the great yarn and know that we can then sell it at shows, our website, or even make products out of the yarn and either use them ourselves or sell them to other people.
Alpaca Shearing Good For Everyone
The best part of the alpaca shearing is it is good for everyone. The fiber mills are going to get more fiber to use for spinning and selling back to the farmers. The shearers are going to have an income because alpaca have to be shorn each year, but the best part is the alpacas are going to feel great. Then you will see the true value of the alpacas and why they are increasing in popularity across America.