Do I or Do I Not Shear? Shearing Llamas
By all means — be humane and shear! The South, with the high humidity and unreasonably hot temperatures, is far from being the llamas’ natural habitat. These conditions compromise their well being, so we must do the responsible thing and shear them. Our llamas look to us for proper care and maintenance.
Llamas with silky wool that lays close to the body seem to be hotter than those with a fluffy fleece. Do not forget the light wool llamas – their fiber is dense and the skin needs to breathe. Sheared llamas do very well in a show ring. It makes the job a lot easier for a judge to evaluate the llama, besides, sheared llamas are beautiful! They have gorgeous bodies.
How Much Wool Do I Take Off?
There are a variety of styles to choose from or you may get creative on your own. We will address two of the styles in this article. Barrel Cut: This style has the least fiber removed from the body. This is a good cut for young llamas not old enough to breed. Modified Lion Cut: This is the cut I prefer. It is great for breeding males because it allows air to circulate around the testicles as well as opening the midsection to cool the body, as on the barrel cut. The Lion Cut helps prevent premature births and allows the ladies to be more comfortable caring for their babies and in giving birth. Cria’s also find it much easier to nurse their moms.
Before you shear, it is best to shampoo the llama and let the wool dry completely , then blow and brush the fleece to get the dirt and vegetable matter out of it. The dirt dulls the blades of both the scissors and shears. Clean fiber is ideal, but we don’t always have the time to do it properly. Try to keep a good long length to the fiber when you take it off. Do not snip little pieces until you reach the desired length. The long fiber will be much easier to have spun into yarn and made into something special.
Devices Used for Shearing (Tools)
Hand Shears: They are fast, but harder for a woman to hold. You need a lot of practice to do a good job.
Scissors: These are easy to use and fit well in a small hand. The llamas seem to tolerate the scissors quite well. The hand shears or scissors give a bit of a scalloped effect that grows out looking very nice. The difference between a good haircut and a great haircut is about six weeks growth. It takes about 30 minutes to give a llama a haircut with scissors. Leave about ½ to 1 inch of wool on the body.
Electric Shears: They are wonderful but can be quite heavy. When using electric shears, you will shear to the skin, leaving about ¼ inch on the body. The finished job is even and smooth, but keep in mind, they shear very close. So if you do not have shade and fans where the llamas can relax during the sunny hours, they could get sunburned.
Sweep the floor where you will be working and let the llama stand on a sheet to catch the wool as it falls from the body during cutting. It is always best to put the llama into a chute for the safety of the llama as well as yourself. Place the cut fleece into a paper bag, not a plastic bag. Now you are ready to shear.
Basically, the technique and steps are the same for the hand and electric shears and for the scissors. With a brush, make a pattern in the wool that will help guide you as you cut. Always start at the top line on the back and make your cut down the center of the back, keeping inside your outline. You can cut more off as you go, but you cannot put it back on. Cut forward, stopping about 6 to 8 inches from the neck. Now cut back to about 10 inches from the tail. Now we angle the point on the scissors or shears down and slightly away from the body so as not to jab the points into the llama, in the event the llama should move. Use your fingers under the handle of the scissors as a guide not to cut too close. With the scissors, cut the wool in a parallel line to the top line, across the body, stopping at the desired mark and keep repeating until you have cut the entire side and half of the belly. Now you can trim the scallops by lifting the wool that remains on the body with your fingers and cut off the high points. When you are somewhat satisfied, smooth the freshly sheared body with a soft brush.
Angle the electric shears down the body when doing the sides and then shear crosswise to smooth out. The top line is done the same as with scissors, only with shears.
Shearing is important. It could mean life or death for your llama! Make them happy & keep them healthy, show them you love them by doing the right thing, shear the llama!! (Information reproduced from Tracy Pearson of Pearson Pond)