Aragon Alpacas, breeding for fine color fleece

for Sale
breeding for fine color fleece
shearing alpacas
Solstice Summer's fleece
Mafutu's Solstice Summer, fleece

Alpaca fleece is as prized today as it was when the animals were first domesticated 6,000 years ago. Huacaya fleece is dense and crimpy, and the suri alpaca has silky fleece that grow in long spirals.

Springtime is shearing season. Much like a barn raising or a quilting bee, shearing day is a time for teamwork and sharing. Some ranches shear their own animals, others hire a traveling expert. The key is to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible so there is minimal stress on the alpacas since most of them are pregnant females!


on the Ground      on a Shearing Table        Standing

huacaya alpacas before shearingShearing Day is an opportunity for several other details to be taken care of while working with the animals: weighing, body-scoring, toe-nail clipping, vaccinations, and new nametags. Records are carefully checked so that females are not shorn within 60 days of either being newly pregnant or delivering. A secondary shearing time is planned for these girls.

Most animals are frightened by the noise and the process, a few are spitty. A mild sedative or Rescue Remedy administered in the waiting pen 15 minutes before shearing soothes both the alpaca and the handlers. And disposable socks tucked over the nose of spitters keeps it to themselves.

Vacuuming or blowing each alpaca just before shearing clears out the dirt and sand they have rolled in, and extends the life of the shearer's blades.

Shearing on the Ground

Front and hind feet are constrained by ropes anchored on a pivot. One person holds the animal's head at all times. The shearer begins at the lower belly, moving front to back, and proceeds up to the spine. The alpaca is rotated as shearing proceeds down his back and over to the other side of the belly. This 'blanket' fleece is the prime fleece, and it is gathered into a bag.

freshly sheared alpacasNext, the neck is sheared, then the front legs and the back ones, rotating the animal over again as necessary. The secondary neck and leg fleece is gathered into another bag.

Both bags are marked with the animal's name, and weighed. Totals are kept for reference to the previous year's data on each alpaca. This aids in breeding decisions, pairing a densely-fleeced animal to one less dense in order to improve the quality of the next generation.

After shearing, the alpacas check each other out, as if to make certain that these skinny creatures are their same buddies.

Galileo, before shearing Galileo
the indignity of it all! Galileo, after shearing

Shearing on a Table

With the shearing table is set vertically, the blue padded covering opens by a hinge at the rear, and the alpaca is led in and safely constrained while it is standing. Then the table is rotated to horizontal position and is locked in place.


Restraints are put on the animal's feet, and one person maintains control of the head all times.

Fleece collectors stand by at the ready, and as the shearer does his work, they dance around the table, staying out of his way while collecting every bit of the clippings.



If a fleece sample is taken for micron testing, a 2-inch square is shorn from the midpoint of the alpaca's side. The sample is bagged and labeled separately.

The shearer begins cutting the blanket fleece along the lower edge, moving along toward the spine in long motions from base of the neck to the rear legs.


Because of the crimpy fiber, the huacaya's blanket fleece holds together and rolls off in a wave. If it is intended as a 'show fleece' it is carefully collected and bagged, maintaining the integrity of the blanket as a whole piece.

If not a show fleece, the blanket is placed in a plastic bag and left loosely closed so it can 'breathe.'


Next, the legs and neck are sheared and this secondary fleece is placed in another marked bag. Both bags are weighed and recorded.


Once shearing is complete, the padded restraint is lowered onto the animal, the ropes are removed from its feet, and the table is tilted vertically once more.



Voila! a freshly sheared alpaca, eager for her getaway.

Spa day is over at last!

Shearing a Llama

Llamas are too large to be put on the shearing table or handled on the ground, so they are sheared while standing. The lead rope is securely tied, and one or two other helpers are available for restraint as necessary. Quigley was especially patient, no doubt pleased to shed his heavy coat.

Thank you to Alpacas of Cusco North, Canzelle Alpacas, and Alpacas de Los Olivos, our 'hosts' for these shearing photos.

Now, what are we going to do with all of those bags of fleece??!
To market, to Market...

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Aragon Alpacas

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Alpaca Sales & Breeding
Alpaca Sales & Breeding
33005 Dillard Rd.
Eugene, OR 97405