Shearing Llamas and Alpacas
Llamas and alpacas require full shearing once a year. This needs to be done, even if their wool is not utilised as they continue to grow their coats and do not naturally shed in the warmer seasons. Without shearing, they are at risk of heat stress and matting so clipping their woolly coat plays a crucial part of their welfare. In the UK, the optimal time for shearing is from May to June and as a general rule, must be done before the end of July. Clipping later than this not only risks the herd getting too hot during the summer months, but also may not grow enough of their fleece back before the cold wintery weather sets in.
Shearing must only be done be experienced persons and requires an amount of consideration and preparation to ensure things run safely and smoothly with the least amount of stress on the handlers animals.
Penning the herd the night before shearing will ensure the fleece is kept clean and dry overnight. Shearing a wet fleece can cause the shears to get caught in the wool which can be an uncomfortable or painful experience. Llama and alpaca shearing is best done when there are multiple handlers to help restrain the animal and to carefully handle, collect and bag the fleece if it is to be used.
Unlike sheep, alpacas are usually sheared lying down. This is either done on a dry, clean ground mat or a specialist shearing table with the front and hind legs tethered. This helps to keep the animal still and the skin taught so that shearing can be safely performed within the shortest time to keep stress to the animal reduced to a minimum. Llamas are usually haltered and stood to shear, like horses. Shearing is also the perfect time to check the health of each animal, trim their nails, look at their dentition and apply wound care and fly control treatments (should wounds or flystrike be found under the fleece after removal). A shorn animal will have significantly reduced their ability to stay warm, so rugs for each animal or housing may be required in bad weather in the weeks after shearing.
Alpaca shearing by @CBS Equine using the cordless HD Roamer shears
Shearing llamas and alpacas can be done using the same shears designed for sheep shearing. Whilst hand shears are silent to operate, they take a good while to completely remove the fleece and great care and skill to be used. Electrical shears will quickly and effortlessly clip the entire fleece in minutes, allowing for each animal to be returned to the group quickly. Stocking up on clipping essentials such as clipper oil, cool care spray, sharp blades and making sure batteries are well charged for cordless shears, will help to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. However, even with the best preparation, accidents can happen so always use an RCD with mains powered shears. Using an RCD ensures a kick from an animal to the shears or accidental treading on the cable will keep everyone safe from an electrical shock.
TOP TIP – The Andis 5-in-1 cool care spray not only acts to keep your clipper blades cool and well lubricated whilst shearing, but also acts as a blade cleaner and disinfectant to clean the blades thoroughly after shearing each animal and maintain good hygiene.
SHEARS FOR SMALL HERDS
For small herds, the heavy-duty, mains powered Masterclip Ewe 2000 shears are ideal. They are lightweight, weighing in at just 1kg and can be used with our Masterclip shearing or dagging blades. Other branded shearing blades that have a standard fitting (such as Heiniger blades) are compatible for use with the Ewe 2000 shears too. It is also possible to buy a specialist camelid blade which has a higher bevel to leave a slightly longer clip than sheep shearing blades, for the remaining fleece to offer a little extra protection from the elements if needed. The Ewe 2000 can also be purchased with an additional clipping head which will allow for the clipper to be used with a range of A2 clipper blades for clipping other livestock such as cattle, horses and long coated goats such as Angoras. There’s also the option to use the A2 livestock blade with these shears which is another great blade choice to shear a small number of llamas and alpacas.
The Masterclip Ewe 2000 shears and cordless HD Roamer shears with livestock blade
No access to mains power? No problem! For a fully cordless clipping solution the HD Roamer clipper is a completely cordless, battery powered clipper which can be used with a range of premium A2 clipper blades. For llamas and alpacas, the livestock blade can be used for full shearing, but other blades can be easily changed on the head in minutes to clip other animals including horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle and goats. The HD Roamer is the perfect choice for smallholders with little or no access to electrical power who have multiple livestock to clip. These clippers come with 2 rechargeable batteries giving up to an hour of clipping time per battery. Extra batteries are readily available from Masterclip should extra clipping time be required. The A2 head on the HD Roamer is also compatible with a range of Lister clipper blades.
The Masterclip HD Roamer shearing an alpaca by @CBS Equine
SHEARING LARGER HERDS
The mains powered Masterclip Ram 3000 shears are a powerhouse, with a fast cutting speed of 3000rpm to breeze through very dense fleece. Designed for back-to-back shearing, this machine is the ideal choice for shearing larger herds quickly. As with the Ewe 2000 shears, the Ram 3000 has a standard fit shearing head which can be used with Masterclip shearing and dagging blades and other blades with the same fit such as Heiniger. The Ram 3000 can also be purchased as a multi-head option with the addition of the A2 clipper head, allowing these shears be the ultimate clipper for all large animal clipping of horses, cattle, sheep and more.
The Masterclip Ram 3000 shears with Multi-head option & cordless Outback shears
For those needing a more flexible but heavy-duty solution, the Masterclip Outback shears are a completely cordless model that comes with a standard shearing head. Just as with the Ewe 2000 and Ram 3000 models, the Outback shears are compatible with our own Masterclip dagging of shearing blades and other makes of standard fit shearing blades, offering a wide selection of blade choice. The Outback comes with 2 rechargeable li-ion batteries with a run time of around 2 hours per battery. Need more time? Extra batteriesand chargers are readily available.
All Masterclip shears come with our full 2-year warranty backed up with our Leicestershire based customer service centre and workshop for repairs and servicing to see that your shears provide you with many years of use.
Sheared by @CBS Equine with the HD Roamer shears and livestock blades