The following information is recommended for the preparation of alpaca and llama fleece. By adhering to these guidelines you can help us make the fiber processing more efficient and more manageable. This can potentially reduce our handling time which could reduce extra associated costs and ultimately mean a finer product for you. This information has been gleaned from shearers and alpaca/llama owners who have years of experience with these animals.
1. Before shearing, if possible, blowout or vacuum your babies. This will obviously remove a considerable amount of dirt and vegetable debris from the fleece. Moreover, your babies will undoubtedly love the salon feel and special handling. The animal may handle the situation better if you use a long hose attachment so that the vacuum motor is as far away as possible. Also, you might consider using a vacuum head attachment that has a combing or bristle feature. This will help to 'rake' the fiber which will make for softer fibers and should make it easier, and faster for the shearer.
2. If vacuuming hasn't done the job, consider brushing the animal several times to free hay, straw, bugs, feces, and other particles from the fiber before shearing. Our equipment will only remove/eliminate some vegetable matter, as well as loosen some dirt and debris. We will not handle fiber that has fecal matter, urine or is contaminated with other potentially harmful material. In such cases we will notify you of the situation and request directions as to whether we should ship the fiber back to you or dispose of it locally.
3. There is no need to wash the animal or its fiber before or after it's sheared. However, if the fiber is unusually dirty or contains vegetable matter, you may want to either skirt it over a screen to dislodge this material.
4. If you do wash the fiber DO NOT AGITATE it as this will ruin the fiber for our purposes. Simply place the fiber in water with a small amount of gentle dish soap and mix it with your hands. Then place it into fresh warm water to rinse...again DO NOT agitate the fiber. After removing the fiber from the water lay it on a towel or screen and place it in the sun to dry thoroughly before packaging and shipping.
5. Now would be a good time to separate the fiber into individual colors and place each color in a separate bag. If you don't want to do this, we can do it for you. However there may be additional handling charges.
6. Next, place the fiber in plastic bag(s) (please do not use shopping bags) and place in an appropriate sized box.
7. Please do not put any type of non-organic/natural pest deterrents in the bags or boxes. Chemicals like mothballs may cause breathing issues for our workers inspecting your fiber after it arrives. You can use dried lavender as a natural deterrent.
7. Keep in mind that the longer your fiber is stored, the more it breaks down. We cannot tell you how long this takes as there are a number of factors involved. Such as: the storage climate, how well the bag is sealed, if there is moisture inside the bag, if pests have infiltrated the fiber, and how much and type of debris is in the fiber. Since our buildings are over 100 years old and can not be climate controlled or 'bug proofed' we try to process your fiber as soon as we can. Which is one of the reasons why we have the 1 month order policy mentioned on the 'Storage Fees' page.