The images above show shearer Bob and Keeper Jake having just caught (and then gently brought down), Garnet, ready for shearing.
Above left - Garnet tethered and ready to be sheared
Above right - The shearing process in full swing! Bob using electric shears, Jake holding Garnet's head steady and Hannah (work experience student) gathering up the fleece.
In addition to shearing Bob also trims hooves (left), checks teeth (above), and vaccinates and worms by injection (below left).
Image (right) shows Augustus in the midst of being sheared!
Alpaca fleece is highly sought after by hand-crafters and commercial markets alike because it is one of the finest natural fibres. The fleece can be made into any product that we would normally associate with wool – yet the end-product will be warmer, lighter, and softer. Many people who cannot wear wool because it is too ‘prickly’ can wear Alpaca fleece. Another interesting fact is that apparently Alpaca fleece doesn’t contain lanolin, so people it can be work by those who are allergic to the lanolin in wool. For people who are allergic to commercial dyes or have a preference for completely natural fibres Alpaca fleece is almost undoubtedly the answer – because it comes in over 20 natural colour variations!
Images above: the finished product - perhaps temporarily not quite as beautiful as with their full fleece – but shearing is an important way of allowing Alpacas to absorb sunlight (through their skin) – thereby boosting their vitamin D levels. If their ‘for-locks’ are left untrimmed for too long (resulting in insufficient natural sunlight into their eyes) and their fleece is left un-sheared (blocking sunlight from their bodies) this can cause vitamin deficiencies and often results in diseases such as rickets.
The last images (above) show Garnet pulling faces at Augustus – almost as though he’s saying something quite insulting about his new hairdo!!