Monday, May 9, 2011

Llama Shearing Day: Before and After

This is what two years of llama fiber growth looks like:

In climates that are hot and humid, it's important that a llama is sheared annually every spring, but here in the cool Pacific Northwest, unless you have a show llama, every two years is pretty routine:

I'm glad that we kept Kai's coat for as long as we did. We've had a very cold and very wet winter and it didn't phase her a bit. This coat kept her toasty and dry. I was the only one to suffer with the condition of her coat, it just looked *so* bad:

Saturday was the much anticipated shearing day. Pete and Reggie were on-hand to help entice Kai back to the barn. It worked like a charm:

Kai insisted on one, last roll in the stall bedding before we began:

My trimmer is a person I met at the Camelid Herd Health Conference that I attended in early March. Adrienne has been trimming llamas for over 15 years:

It looks bad in this photo, but Adrienne told me that Kai has beautiful fiber. Considering how many llamas she sees and trims each season, my heart swelled a little bit when she said this. A mama's pride, you know...:

Chester and Beau were never more than a few feet away from Kai throughout the entire ordeal:

Such devotion:

Once the clippers started going, though, Beau and Chester gave Kai a few, final, whispered words of support...:

and then retreated - just a bit - to a safer distance:

Underneath that crusty top layer, her fiber looked just like soft cotton:

Chester would check in, every now and again, just to make sure all was in order. It really was a fascinating process to watch. Kai's fiber basically came off like a rug - in one long, heavy piece:

A few times, Kai became less than cooperative:

And attempted a number of complicated poses to keep Adrienne from touching her:


I thought it was really interesting how Chester and Beau stayed so close the whole time. My handsome boys:

With the right side complete, the left side "rug" came off:

A pedicure was part of the shearing package. Now her toes are as pretty as the rest of her:

I think everyone was really happy when Adrienne packed away her buzzy tool and life at the barn could return to normal:

Now I have a feed bag-full of llama fiber:

Any fiber fanatics out there want some of this to play with :-) :

...What's that?
Oh, you want to see Kai?
Before (taken Saturday morning):
After (taken Saturday afternoon):
Isn't she lovely?

She looks like a baby to me now! (The "clipper tracks" on her sides should disappear in a few days):

She has the skinniest, little, pointy-bottom now:

You're not laughing, right, Chester? Because guess who's getting his feet done tomorrow?:


  1. Isn't that incredible how cute and tiny she is underneath all that fiber! We used to do the same with our long haired cat, and I thought she was the most adorable tiny thing shaved. :)

  2. Wait, surely you spin, right? Just in case you don't, I am (ahem) a spinner of fibers. That's some beautiful stuff you have there in the feed bag.

    This was so interesting. There is alpaca shearing happening near here (I missed it). I've never seen such a thing, although I've been around lots of sheep shearing. Thank you for these photos, Danni. I just never know what I'll find when I come visiting...

  3. She's lovely! I like the photo of when the clipping began. The expressions on the two supervisors is priceless! xoxoxo

  4. I just love how her buddies are standing at the ready. :)

    She seems like she handled it pretty well considering she's not a touchy feely kind of girl.

  5. Oh Kai, very swish! And I really wish I was able to spin, will have to put it on the list of things to learn. I'm sure there is someone out there willing to make Kai Yarn.

    Chester be brave.

    LiBBiE in Oz

  6. Very interesting! It's got to feel good to get that heavy rug off for the summer!

  7. Hi there & greetings from Scotland!

    What a pretty girl Kai is :)

    I'd be fascinated to know what kind of clipper blades were used - are they the same as you'd use on a horse with a thick coat, or are there special ones for llamas?

  8. Wow, what a change - looks so different. The process looks similar to sheep shearing. I saw that for the first time couple months ago. You can see it here: Love how Chester and Beau stayed close to make sure all was ok throughout. So cute.

  9. Goodness! in that last 'before' picture she almost looks like a buffalo!

    I'm not a fiber person, but I would imagine that Kai's wool would be lovely stuff to play with. AFter it was washed, of course.....and combed.

  10. Oh, poor Kai. She got a buzz cut. I know someone who spins her own wool. If you don't get any other takers, let me know and I'll put you in touch with her.

    I think it's so wonderful that the boys were there supporting Kai through the whole ordeal. That's pretty big and I'm sure it made a big difference to her, having them there.

    Just curious...was George around, characteristically getting underfoot?


  11. I learned how to spin wool years ago. Very fun to do, however the poodles have hair/not fur so their clippings cannot be turned into yarn. It is pretty easy to learn how to spin wool-why don't you give it a try?

  12. I would love some of your fiber, but we live so far away. Thank you so much for this post. We are currently considering woolen sheep and this will add to our confidence in shearing season. She looks so much more comfortable now! Hey-there's one that spins, and I knit. If you want, she can spin and I can knit a little something just to get experience with real llama material:)-just a thought.

  13. Chester and Beau's reactions had me laughing!

    In the last pictures of Kai, her "before" picture looks like a bison standing there eating! What a difference after being sheered.

  14. Danni-I'm dying to know---what will you do with the fiber? Is it similar to alpaca? I think some knitting needles are in order!

  15. Adrienne did a great job! :)

  16. I had no idea the term "fiber" is used for llamas. I learn so much from you Danni. Sure hope the fiber can be used by an enthusiastic spinner and that person sends you back some yarn in trade? That would be a win-win deal!

  17. She looks like a whole different animal. What a talent to be able to shear a llama's and not get hurt.

  18. How did Kai act after the shear? Was she frolicy and bouncy after all that weight came off? She looks so cute. Was Honey hanging around too? Is this too many questions?

  19. It looks like everyone watches out for each other. How dedicated Chester and Beau are to Kai and look Honey is still hanging out with her new friends. Have a great week!

  20. awwww.... her pointy little butt is so cute! And I love seeing Honey right in the middle of it :)

  21. ♥ I love animals ♥ My dog Kelly plays the same little tricks on me when I give him a haircut - all those silly positions he maneuvers into thinking I'll stop. She looks fabulous darling!

  22. Very cool. I'm surprised there was no bucking or spitting. Maybe having the boys there was all she needed to feel calm?

  23. Danni--Kai is so pretty with her new hair cut! I know just how she feels with her new "do." I'm proud of the donkey boys for hanging in there with her. If you don't mind, I'd like to try a little bit of her fiber (maybe a couple of handfuls). I make soap and would like to try felting some fibers around the soap for gentle exfoliation.

  24. Hi Clairz :-) - Noooo, I don't spin. I don't knit either. Kai llama is here merely to be loved on, but it seems a shame to have her fiber go to waste? Would really like some? I'll post some close-up pics of the fiber and you can decide from that. :-)
    It would be really fun to see how it's done!

  25. Hi there, Dougie Donk, how nice to see your handsome face! I sent an email to my shearer asking her your question. Here is her reply:

    "Depending on what kind of clipper he has it varies.

    If he has an oster clipper he could probably do it with the coarsest/widest comb possible.

    If he is buying shearing blades, tell him to buy a 13 tooth comb and regular cutter.

    Get on Premier One livestock supply. They have ones they call camelid blades for either the clipper or shearer (they operate slightly differently). Also their customer service is phenomenal and he can ask questions.

    Or you can forward my email and number to him and I can point him in the right direction. Shearing the llamas is slightly different....more oil and different tension than clipping horses."

  26. Hi Carolynn - George was suspiciously absent throughout this entire ordeal, er, I mean process. He's not one for strangers or loud noises. :-)

  27. Hi Georgie! I won't be learning to spin any time soon - I already have so much on my plate here on the property. But I am very curious about the process, so maybe somebody out there will want to give it a shot with llama wool and let me watch how it's done. :-)

  28. The Burrow - I would be tickled to send you some of this. You're not all *that* far away. :-) Let me know if you are interested...

  29. To Anonymous - What am I going to do with the fiber? Well, right now, I'm checking around to see if there's any interest in it from blog readers. If not, well, I see a lot of birds getting some awesome nesting material. :-)

  30. Hey sugarcreekstuff - Kai is a goofball - she acted completely normal afterwards. She didn't act freaked out, she didn't act stressed, but neither did she spring in the air with joy. She did run down the hill at a pretty good clip when she thought I was going to let her into the pasture to graze, though. :-)

    And if you look at the 8th photo from the bottom, you'll see Honey hanging around outside the donkey/llama paddock. Wherever there is activity (and her buddies), that's where Honey will be. :-)
    (Never too many questions!)

  31. Hi CeeCee - I never said there wasn't any bucking and spitting.
    :-) :-) :-)

  32. Hi Denny1600 - I would *love* to send you a couple handfuls. I will send you an email to see how you want it. I think experiments like this are so much fun - what a great idea!

    "Darling, what IS your beauty secret?! Your skin looks mahhhvelous."

    "Well, I wash twice daily with an exfoliating llama fiber soap, of course. It's the latest rage. My skin looks like a 22 year old!"


  33. Danni, thanks for the Llama 101 shearing course. I've never seen it done in real life.

  34. This is off subject BUT....I *think* I read on one of your blogs that you keep a goldfish in your water troughs? Is this right? I'm seriously thinking of doing the same thing to keep the green goo from growing! lol.

    Let me know! I'm at



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