Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shearing the Llamas

It finally got hot around here and we needed to shear the llamas. Actually, one llama and one huarizo. Daisy (the huarizo, which is a llama x alpaca) had a heavy fleece this spring. You can see in the photo below how much fleece she has.

I went out to the field to find Daisy and realized the sprinkler was on it's side... again! I realized why why kept finding the sprinkler on it's side when I found Daisy sitting on it trying to stay cool. It was spraying right onto her belly and legs. I should have gotten a picture of that!

Taco, Vet2Be's good friend, came to help us shear. He's sheared alot of sheep and knows how to use hand shears. Last year we sheared Daisy with a pair of 8" sewing shears. It worked okay, but I wanted to see how to shear with the 'real' red-handled hand shears.

I held Daisy and Taco started shearing. We have a llama chute, but it is storing RN's things before she moves. So we decided to see how Daisy did in a stall. She did just fine!

It took almost 2 hours to shear her because her fleece was so thick. Once in a while she would stand without me holding her, then I grabbed the second set of shears and worked on her, too.

So cute! Huarizos are known for being more pet-like than llamas or alpacas. They are usually sterile and they usually have a wonderful fleece.

Me holding Daisy and Taco shearing. Vet2Be was in the house sick with Strep Throat. We saved the 'blanket' of Daisy's fleece and tossed the rest.
Daisy didn't like anyone shearing her legs, but we were able to do it without too much trouble. Shearing her neck was trickier. I had no idea there were folds of skin at the base of her neck. I ended up holding her head down towards the floor while Taco sheared.

Meadow with two years of growth on her. We leave the halter around her neck because otherwise we would never be able to catch her. She was originally rescued by Taco's mom and then placed with us. She came to us skittish and afraid of people. Now she will come up to us and cautiously eat grain out of our hand. She is a wonderful mama llama and nursed Daisy for about 18 months--much longer than most llamas.

We paid to have someone shear Meadow the first year we had her. He stretched her out on the ground with ropes and pulleys between two trucks. She was really easy to handle when she couldn't move! This year Taco was willing to help us try it without a 'professional'. We are always greatful for his help, and he helps often!

Meadow was faster to shear than Daisy, but more difficult because she was not happy with us at all. Son1 brought Taco and I some water to drink since it was about 100˚ while we were shearing, and he got right in and helped us. Son1 held Meadow while Taco and I sheared. At first we wanted to be as fast as possible so we used the loud electric shears. After doing her back we noticed that the electric shears weren't working very well and switched to the hand shears. Hand shears don't give as smooth a cut, but they are much quieter and less to mess with than electric shears.

We didn't get a picture of Meadow with her 'bandit' mask on. Taco showed us how to cover her nose and mouth with a flour-sack dish towel so if she decided to spit we wouldn't get covered with green goo. Basically the towel was folded on the diagonal and went across her nose, it was crossed under her chin and tied behind her head. It worked like a charm! No spitting!

 Daisy peeking in the stall to see what we are doing to her mom.

I also trimmed Daisy and Meadow's toes while we had them contained. They both 'went down' as we were finishing the shearing. No problem. I reached underneath and pulled their feet out and trimmed them. Meadow ended up with Taco and Son1 laying over her back so she didn't jump up while I was trying to trim, but Daisy was fine as I pulled each foot out to trim.

Daisy and Meadow aren't too pleased in this photo. But they were fine in the evening. Both came up and ate some grain out of my hand. We didn't do a fantastic job shearing, but they have a much shorter coat and are much cooler. That was the most important!

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