Part of my series for Irish Country Living
Well, the day finally came for our alpacas to be relieved of their much prized, much sought-after fleece.
They have been panting in the paddocks, sitting in the shade and taking twice daily dust baths to keep cool as the temperatures have crept up.
Our shearing team travelled all the way from New Zealand and shear for a number of farms in the UK before travelling to Ireland to shear on farms both North and South of the border.
It is a big operation to shear these animals, but these guys made it look easy.
The alpacas are laid on the ground, legs tied out front and back and head held to prevent injury.
The much prized ‘saddle’ area is removed first and bagged and then the seconds,the neck, leg and hind area are bagged seperately.
The alpacas are then flipped and the process is repeated on the other side.
It is a great opportunity to do a full NCT, so nails get trimmed, teeth get filed and any dosing that needs doing is given.
The alpacas can get stressed when it’s being done but a good shearer will minimise the stress and once it’s done well and quickly the alpacas get over it without a bother.
Like a lot of things in life, the boys can give out more than the girls. They scream a high pitched scream, forewarning of the neighbours is essential to avoid social services being called, and will spit at the first opportunity, but I’m sure the relief of having the fleece off must be huge.
They return to the paddock looking as though they have been deflated!
It always takes a while to adjust to seeing them like this, they look so small and light and after a whole year of trying to figure out which one is which, I’m lost again as they look completely different.
Here on Hushabye Farm we are continually working at improving the genetics of the herd. These genetics dictate the quality of the fibre in the next generation and this is measured in the density, consistency and fineness ( measures in microns) of the fibre.
Responsible breeding is vital to ensure the national herd improves with each breeding season. Because the industry is relatively new here we have a fantastic chance of achieving the goal of top class fleeces by ensuring that only our best stock goes ahead for breeding.
We are holding onto our fleece at the moment as the exchange rate is not in our favour and all processing is currently done in the UK.
Fear not though we have some very exciting plans for this gorgeous fibre so stay tuned for further updates.