As the temperatures climbed on Saturday, the alpaca at Island Alpaca were in the process of losing their thick winter coats, a sure sign that spring is here. Alpacas do not naturally shed their fleece, and shearing is an important process in their well-being — especially as the weather warms. As in previous years, professional shearer extraordinaire Matt Best came down from New Hampshire for Island Alpaca’s annual Shearing Day.
With the help of Richard Byer, Mr. Best trimmed each of the farm’s 52 alpacas throughout the afternoon. Each animal produces about 7 to 10 pounds of fiber throughout the year, so the farm pulled in between 300 and 500 pounds of fiber on Saturday. The alpaca fiber will be cleaned and utilized for blankets, yarn, slippers, dolls, and other cold-weather accessories, which can be purchased in the gift shop.
Barn manager Eric DeWitt and his wife, veterinarian Cheryl DeWitt, were on hand to oversee the fiber festivities. The DeWitts joined the farm’s staff last fall after offering clinics about birthing and caring for alpacas on shearing day for the past 10 years. Dr. DeWitt gave the alpacas their annual shots, trimmed their toenails, and checked for health concerns, while the animals were submissive.
After the alpacas were finished with their comprehensive spa experience, they joined their not-so-furry friends in the sun.