Tara Meadow Alpacas on the farm

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Salem Alpacas Manilla Ontario



Tara Meadows Alpacas

Beautiful Decorator Rugs

These beautiful decorator rugs are made from the fleece of our very own alpacas. We have a small alpaca farm located outside the Village of Markdale, Ontario. We currently have 11 alpacas and a new cria, named Deja


Alpacas before shearingIn the springtime, our alpacas are sheared by a local professional shearer. Although the alpacas do not necessarily like being handled and sheared, they are not harmed and it is generally not an unpleasant experience for them. They are strapped to a table with 3 or 4 helpers: one has the head to hold gently but firmly, and a few to hold down the front legs and the back legs.

Alpacas after shearing Although they are strapped down securely, having a helper ensures that they will not move or struggle during the shearing. The shears are very sharp so they must be held perfectly still. The right side of the alpaca is sheared. He is then flipped over to expose his left side and re-strapped down and secured. The blanket across the back and body of the alpaca is sheared first. This is the prime fleece, longer than the fleece on the neck or legs. This prime fleece is usually 3 - 6" in length throughout. Then the neck and legs are sheared, which is about 1 - 2" in length. The person is charge of the head, will prune around the ears and face and trim the top.

Alpaca shearing table

Health Check

While the alpacas are secured on the table, it is a perfect time to do an overall health check and grooming. We check their teeth for overgrown front teeth or fighting teeth in the males. Their hides are checked for parasites or healing sores. We trim overgrown toenails.

Cleaning the Fleece

The sheared fleece is placed into bags and marked with the name of the alpaca, the colour of the fleece and the date. Over the next few months each fleece is washed in my kitchen sink by hand with Dawn liguid soap and rinsed in warm water with a 1/4 cup of vinegar to take out the animal smell. It is then spread out on a screened table and allowed to air dry over 2 or 3 days.

Alpaca fleece washed black Alpaca fleece washed brown

Off to the Mill

Once completely dry, the fleece is packed and labelled and then shipped off to the mill to be processed into beautiful rugs. Depending on how busy the mill is, this usually take 2 to 3 months. Since each rug is handmade and the design is based on the quantity of each colour of fleece, no two rugs are identical.

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