The Tooth-A-Matic is used for most of the teeth we trim because it is safe, effective and low-stress for your animals. Because it is so quick, teeth do not heat up like they would with a Dremel tool.
Note: Some camelids simply have a bad overbite so it appears that their front teeth are overgrown. We will check each mouth and determine if they truly need to be trimmed. A camelid's front teeth should come just to the bottom/middle of their palate (gum line). Once their teeth are overgrown past their upper gum line it is harder for them to graze and feed.
Male fighting teeth (canine teeth):
The Fight-0-Matic is used to trim most fighting teeth. This also does not heat the tooth up like a dremel tool does. This tool is amazingly effective and safe for the animal and operator.
*Females do not fight so their fighting teeth do not need to be removed. We will flatten females fighting teeth upon request.
Shearing day expectations:
Please keep animals dry and corralled in holding pen close by the shearing area. (We can shear animals that are damp, but it is much harder for you as you must dry the fiber before bagging it in plastic bags.
We need at least two people to help during shearing day: one person to be in charge of fiber (labeling bags), collecting fiber if necessary (normally we can handle this) and one person to be preparing animals for the wranglers. (We will put animals down on the mats.)
More helpers are welcome, but two is the recommended.
Clean dry area to set up two mats/shearing stations.
(Concrete is preferable as it is easiest to keep clean during shearing process.)
-We need a minimum of 20 feet* between tie off points for our pulleys.
*This is the ideal but we work at a variety of farm set-ups, so we are very creative to make your farm set-up work. We have tied our pulley system off to: Vehicles, Tractors, T-posts, Post on buildings, Anchors in the ground. You name it we have probably used it-including the random passing cow (just kidding).
Plastic bags ready for the fiber.
(Labels/Names for the bags if desired)
Electric power source
It is helpful to keep your animals off water for 12 hours before shearing. This ensures dry, cleaner fiber since it won’t be urinated on during the shearing process. This is especially important if you have show blankets that you are planning to show.
It is also helpful if you do not feed your animals on shearing day until after they are shorn. Your animals are less likely to fight and jump around during the shearing process. This also results in less spitting and spit up on shearing day!
Three man shearing teams:
Each shearing team that arrives on your farm will consist of one shearer, one headman, and one wrangler.
Shearer- He will be the only one shearing the animal.
Headman- He will be maneuvering the animal for the shearer.
Wrangler- His main job is to create a smooth and flowing operation. They are making sure animals are close by and then are laying all animals down ahead of the shearer on the second mat. They can also help collect fiber and fiber samples as well as clean up between animals. The wrangler will also do any teeth and toenail trimming if those services are requested.
Our teams work together efficiently and calmly to take the stress out of shearing day. We try to ensure a laid back and enjoyable atmosphere for you and the animals.
We know that you have a valuable investment in your animals and we want to help protect them. Therefore we disinfect all of our equipment between every farm to ensure that no disease is carried from one farm to the next. We use a proven method to kill any bacteria that we may have come in contact with during the shearing process. Not only do we disinfect all of our equipment and mats before heading to the next farm but we also wear rubber overshoes that we disinfect in order to ensure no disease might be transmitted between farms.
Process of shearing:
We lay all of the animals on custom soft gymnastic-type mats. These mats are an inch and half thick, ensuring that the animal is comfortable. Once the animal is laid gently on the mat we bind the animals front and back legs using our specialized pulley system. The pulley system is tied off between two points close to the ground about 20 feet apart. Then the animal’s legs are gently stretched out from underneath it. As the shearer shears specific parts of the animal, the headman will turn the animal to present the animal to the shearer. The blanket will be removed first and then bagged by itself. The 2nds and 3rds are then removed from the animal. Once the shearer is done shearing, the wranglers will come over and release the animal. They untie the pulley system from the animals’ legs and lead the animal away from the shearing area.
Click here to see pictures.
We cannot predict the weather months in advance.
Rain-Please watch your local weather and know what they are calling for on days leading up shearing day. Prepare accordingly, if rain is forecasted: Keep your animals dry and inside before shearing day. We can shear wet alpacas but it creates a much bigger job for you trying to dry that fiber out before bagging it.
If you decide to cancel because of rain, or we are unable to shear because of lack of indoor facilities, we will recommend another shearer to you. Because our schedule is so tight by the time the season is underway, we will not be able to reschedule in most cases.
Cold weather-I have sheared every month of the year and alpacas can be sheared even when it's cold. In fact the busiest time for sheep shearing is during February, March, April. There are 100s of thousands of sheep sheared during these very cold months, prior to lambing. All these sheep adjust to the cold weather after being shorn.
Alpacas have much thicker skin than sheep and have adapted from mountains of South America. I would not be concerned about shearing alpacas in cooler temperatures. If we do have a cold spell around your shearing day, your alpacas will adjust quickly to the temperatures and be so thankful the following weeks when the temperatures get hot again.
We begin scheduling in January every year. We will send out an email reminder to everyone on our contact list to fill out a scheduling form so that we have everyone's updated information (head counts, new addresses, phone numbers) We can't put the calendar together until we have received everyone's updated scheduling form. Please fill out a scheduling form by February 1st so we can begin scheduling.
Please understand we cannot give everyone a weekend. We have over 300 farms to schedule during April, May, and June in 12 different states. We will try to be as accommodating to your schedule as is reasonable but we also have to map out our routes as efficiently as possible. Every year we drive 15,000 miles in just over 2 months and we work almost every day on top of that! We ask that you be gracious and flexible with the dates that we can give you.
Where we work:
We primarily shear in the midwest and western United States. We do not service the East Coast.
If you are outside of one of these states you can still contact us and we can recommend another shearer to you. Shearers are a rare breed and we can recommend the good ones for you!
Release and waiver of liability:
We enjoy working with all of you and the many friendships that have developed over the years through this business. We have never had an occasion in the past to necessitate calling upon such a document and trust that we would never have to call upon it in the future. However, we feel this waiver is necessary for our protection and yours.
The waiver in a nutshell: Animals are animals and thus unpredictable. I am responsible for any injuries or losses to Top Knot Shearing and you are responsible for any injuries or losses on your farm.