We've condensed our Fiber Harvesting Guide into the infographic below, so you can avoid the most common mistakes in alpaca fiber harvesting to ensure you finish with the highest commercially usable clip!
The goal at the end of shearing is to finish with the highest amount of usable alpaca fiber.
Usable Alpaca Fiber is:
◆ Free of all contamination
◆ Separated by color & grade
◆ Uniform in staple length & micron count
Contamination is the #1 reason that fleeces are downgraded or discarded.
Prevent contamination before shearing begins!
◆ Utilize low hay feeders
◆ Clear pastures of thistle & burdock
◆ Clean shearing area, barnyards & stalls
◆ Use shredded cardboard or straw bedding (not hay)
Top Contaminants Include:
◆ Vegetable Matter (VM)
◆ Farm Debris
◆ Color Contamination
◆ Second Cuts
◆ Guard Hair
Prepare: Band samples & identify fleeces going to shows or to processing.
Your Shearer: Seek a shearer months in advance. Communicate your goals with them.
Your Help: Educate & assign staff, family & volunteers to specific tasks.
Work Smart: Keep the queue moving with a 2nd shearing station.
Shear from lightest to darkest & clean areas in between.
Blankets: Remove in one piece. Send straight to the skirting table, cut side down
Leg & Neck: Keep together
Apron, Belly, Coarse Fiber: Remove immediately
Keep different sections of fiber separate as they come off the animal & leave grading to the professionals.
Skirt the fleece as it comes off the animal. Do NOT tumble your fleeces!
Use a wire mesh top skirting table. Keep each skirted fleece separate regardless of color.
Be Sure to Skirt Out:
◆ Excessive Guard Hair
◆ Armpit Hair
◆ Second Cuts
◆ Vegetable Matter
◆ Dirt, Dung & Debris
Roll individual fleeces in newspaper or place in small plastic bags for short-term storage & shipping.
Combine into larger bags to be sent for processing.
Put completely dry fiber in paper lawn & leaf bags for long-term storage.
Put fiber to use soon after harvest or you may lose it to rodents, moths, or mold & mildew contamination.