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March 03, 2022

Shearing Day Confidential


Hi all—

So, as you are preparing for your own shearing, I thought I ‘d let you in on the Herd Health tasks we take care of on shearing day.

1. You may know that alpacas get ear ticks. They don’t really get ticks on their blankets, but the buggers love to hang out in their ears, and the alpacas will shake their heads or walk around with one ear down, and be uncomfortable. It can result in a facial paralysis if not treated. That’s why I’m always alert and looking fore alpacas that shake their heads or have an ear down. We treat it with Catron IV ( a permethrin spray) or other brands of permethrin. On shearing day, EVERYONE gets their ears sprayed!! You could do it when they are stretched out on the mat, but we always do it after they are up again. Alpacas hate to have their ears handled, but I have sort of taught mine that I am rubbing and scratching their itchy ears, and they like that. So, first I gently/firmly massage the base of their ears to relax them, then I spray and work the medicine down into the ear. I actually do it twice in each ear.
2. Alpacas can get lice that are “species specific”. We dust our alpacas on their top line with Sevin rose dust after they are shorn, to prevent this. We wear disposable gloves and lightly rub it around their backs.
3. Mites. Mites are the curse of alpacas—probably all alpacas have mites, but some get very allergic to mites and develop a crusting, itchy skin eruption especially around the feet, around the ears, and under the tail, but also they can develop it under their blankets. It’s miserable. These mites live primarily on the feet and between the toes. Every alpaca has their feet sprayed with Fipronil Spray (that’s the stuff in FrontLine that you put on your dog). We spray the feet while the alpaca is stretched on the mat before or after shearing. We also trim their toenails while they are stretched out.
4. Fighting teeth. Have your shearer check each male for fighting teeth. If they are getting long, your shearer is probably prepared to cut them back. They often use piano wire to do it.
5. Be sure to have your shearer trim and shape your alpaca’s head fleece. Some shearers charge extra to do this, but it is worth it so that you don’t have to chase down your alpaca and fight with them to trim their coiffure! Our shearer does it automatically. In general, adult huacayas should be trimmed so that they have a “clean” face—not the big bubble head look that we sometimes keep for the juvenile boys going to shows. So we shave back the cheeks, and trim the topknot back (but we don’t cut it off!!). Just a summer trim! For suris, I like a fairly clean face and I especially want them to not have hair in their eyes!!
6. Legs: It’s up to you whether you want your shearer to shave the legs all the way, or if you want the leg hair shaped into a “stovepipe” contour. Folks who live in hot summer areas (the Central Valley), or those whose alpacas live in areas full of weeds and foxtails and burrs, shave them all the way back. I prefer the stovepipe look for ours.
7. “If you’re born, you’re shorn”. Everyone gets shorn on shearing day.

Fipronil Spray
Catron IV
Stiptic powder to stop bleeding (like if you cut the toenails back too far…)
Sevin Dust
Disposable gloves
Plastic trash bags for fleece—Adult huacayas often need a 33 gal bag for the blanket, and a second for the neck and leg fleece.
Labels for the fleece bags. And a magic marker.
A broom to sweep off pad in between alpacas
A strong contractor trash bag for trash.
A halter or 2 for moving alpacas around.

We are shearing on Friday, April 1. Would love to have some of you come, but I know it’s a “school day”!

Happy Shearing!!