Morning Beckons Farm Hosts Alpaca Shearing Contest

Hartford Courant
By: Denise Coffey
Photo: By Denise Coffey

Photo Caption: Terence Blake, Jay Mariacher, and Rusty Varrell, with Mariacher Shearing. Blake came in first, Varrell second in the novice class.

Original content from Hartford Courant.

Morning Beckons Farm was the site of the eighth annual North American Alpaca Shearing Contest, on June 24.

The contests pit a two-person crew against a clock. They were judged on how fast they were able to shear the fiber from an alpaca, the quality of the blanket they produced, and the appearance of the animal after they were done.

This is the third year that the contest has been held at Morning Beckons Farm.

Owners Julie and Vern Butler currently have nearly 400 alpacas on the 250-acre farm. Most of the alpacas were shorn a month ago. Their slim bodies and long legs and necks created a counterpoint to the 50 or so alpacas waiting to be shorn in a fenced-off area nearby.

Alpacas are typically shorn once a year. The 'blankets' they produce can weigh up to 10 pounds and can bring in anywhere from $70 to $125. Everything depends on the quality and color of the fiber, according to Holly Jacobs, manager at The Mill at Rosehaven Alpacas. Gray coats are usually worth more money. Light blonde and beige blankets are favored for their ability to absorb dye.

Chris and Jody Hatch came from Syracuse, New York to compete in the contest. He is a sixth grade English teacher and she buys and sells alpacas. They got tired of paying for shearers, so they started doing it themselves. Chris estimates he shears about 600 alpacas a year. That qualifies him for the journeyman class. Novices shear less than 250 animals annually and masters shear more than 1,200 annually.

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