Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Minimising Disease Transmission During Shearing

Helen at Alpaca Power has asked us to pass on this information she has put together which should be considered alongside the infomation from Gina Bromage.

Shearing is not something most of look forward to but is it necessary and we owe it to our alpacas to do it well. Spread of disease should be on every owners mind and this includes between alpacas on the same holding. Below is a list of simple and effective guidelines which can be adopted to prevent the passing on of diseases from outside and within your herd.

Do not be afraid to ask your shearer to provide clean and disinfected equipment.

Before you start

It is strongly recommended that all alpacas due to be shorn are kept indoors overnight in a well ventilated barn/shelter with hay and water, even if there is no chance of them getting wet. Alpacas will eliminate urine and faeces overnight ensuring:

shearing mats stay dry;
there is much less discomfort (and therefore stress) for the alpacas;
much less contamination of fleeces;
minimises risk of spread of disease via urine;
ensures a much more pleasant working environment for all

Agree with the shearer to disinfect all ropes, mats and equipment on arrival. A responsible shearer will have no problem with this. Even better would be to have your own mats and ropes.

Any animals within the herd who are underweight, have active skin lesions or get very stressed or give cause for concern should be isolated and sheared last.

If shearing other herds on your holding then it is important for your biosecurity to shear all your own alpacas first then clean and disinfect all equipment before and after any visiting herds. All waste should be incinerated afterwards.

Each shearing area should have its own supplies; disinfectant, brush, paper towel, bin bags etc.

During shearing

Any spillages (urine, gastric contents, faeces, blood) should be cleaned up with disposable paper towel immediately and put into a bin. Hands should be washed with soap and water before the next animal in handled.

Always wash hands between handling mouths to examine teeth.

After shearing

Pressure wash down concrete and then disinfect or clean and rest grass areas.
Offer to wash your shearer and clean and disinfect his equipment before it goes back into his car.

All areas should be cleaned with detergent first and then disinfected. It is very important to use correct concentrations and contact times in order for the products to work effectively.

Stress busting recommendations for your alpacas

Offer a hay net while they wait.
Let them watch what is happening.
Be organised and have the animal on the ground for the least amount of time.
Don’t leave an animal unattended while it is tied out.
Handle the animals calmly and respectfully and keep noise to a minimum.
Keep animals in their small groups until the last one is shorn and then let them out together.
Cria should always stay within sight of the dam.


  1. We have received two comments on this post, as they refer to a post which has been taken down for now, we have not published them.

    We have taken th comment moderation off again as well, so you are free to comment.

  2. Good Information, thank you.

    Shearing is something to look forward to though!

    It is the main point of keeping alpacas, and has to be done from a welfare perspective as well as harvesting the fibre. We shear at 'alpaca height' on a table rather than pinning the alpacas on the floor, and the job is done quickly with the minimum of fuss. The alpacas seem to take it in their stride done this way. Any shearer worth their salt will be very aware of biosecurity issues and should not only respect your wishes, but be pro-active in taking sensible precautions.