By Shari Phiel
While most people were attending the Berthoud Day festivities at Town Park last Saturday, Barbara and Jay Byrd of Luna Nueva Ranch spent several hours during the day shearing the majority of their alpaca herd.
The Byrds, along with alpacas from two other local ranches, brought in a shearing expert for the day to clip a total of over 40 animals. After the alpaca was secured into position on the barn floor with a system of ropes and pulleys, the shearer would begin clipping the heavy growth of wool.
To maximize efficiency, and to minimize the amount of time the alpacas are restrained, the shearer would clip one animal while another was being readied.
Although the alpacas may not enjoy the process, it doesn’t hurt them, and it also offers owners a chance to clip toenails, administer vaccinations if needed and examine their overall body condition. Some will certainly let you know they don’t approve; making a high-pitched squeal similar to a bad fan belt on a cold morning.
Starting with the belly, the “blanket” fleece around the torso, which is also the most valuable fleece, is sheared as a whole which is then collected in a bag. Also shaved are the legs and neck, although this fleece is usually not as valuable it can be made into rugs, used as quilt batting or other materials.