Alpaca & Muscovy

skirting fleece Alpaca fleece preparation

Well, in between getting ready for shearing and early mating, the skirting does not happen by itself.

some folk do it immediately and send it off to the mills, others store it – it depends on timing and storage facilities.

we were a bit busy last year and in between halter training I am “getting on it” slowly.

here we do it all – hand spinning and off to the mill to be turned into yarn and sell the odd few that are not best fleeces for the other two!

A skirting table is a must so that the dirt and detritus can drop through to the floor –

which of course has to be cleaned up when the second cuts and vegetable matter (VM) fall through.

Fleeces are very large when spread out – mine is seven foot by 3.5 foot

I have looked like a haystack for a good while now and only another 20 fleeces to go with another nearly 40 due shortly.

I cannot seem to get my average for sorting a fleece out properly to less than 2.5 hours per fleece and more than twice that for a cria “haystack” fleece.

The fleece has to be laid shorn side down – in other words the fleece open to the elements is upside.

Then you need to mark on paper which fleece it is which year and what you want from it.

is it going to be hand spun? or off to the mill? or for felting? of for making cushions? or sold as is? or just rubbish for the bin?

To give you a quick basic idea – you need to remove the second cuts – the short pieces where the shearer goes back a second time.

Remove the rough hair from the legs, head, neck, belly etc and any other fleece that is not good. A good shake of the fleece usually throws out the second cuts and the portions you want to remove. helps with the dirt too.

Any fleece on the neck that is as good as the blanket (main body) then put them together.

any other useable fleece is second cut but remove guard hair and detritus too.

no doubt I will be lynched for the above but it is only my opinion and we only use the best here!

necks and legs we do not use – what you put in is what you get out – simples !

down the centre line you need to remove any really stuck in matter and the crows nest at the back of the neck.

then when the fleece is down to size and looking marketable – start removing vegetable matter.

when finished this side – turn over and do the other then do it again!

bag it up, mark it up and keep going.

when you have 20kg of one colour or to be mixed eg browns or grey, you have enough for the bigger mills.

Perhaps I am skirting within an inch of its life and too picky.

this is not how to prepare a show fleece and obviously if you are selling the fleece on its own – sell the lot!

no – one cannot be too picky (excuse the pun) because the mills send the fleeces back if there is too much “rubbish” left in them. onwards and upwards!