Shearing Seminar Hosting Requisites

mattshearingThe seminar was developed as a two-day event, but can be compressed into one long day. Content and hands on are basically the same, but less time for Q and A with one day. With the two day class, I let questions lead us where the students want to go. With the one day we are more focused to the agenda.

Basic AGENDA for a one day class is:

8 am:   Welcome , Registration, etc. We usually take care of any house-keeping items such as signing waivers, etc.
8:30 to 10:  Classroom lecture and discussion
10 to 10:15:  Break
10:15 to 11:  Finish classroom. This of course depends on questions asked, etc.
11 to 12:  Laboratory
12 to 12:4: 5 Lunch
12:45 to finish (usually about 5pm) Lab


In the classroom we discuss the 1st principle of effective shearing- KNOW THE EQUIPMENT. Comparison of different makes of hand pieces, Comb and cutter selection, Basic care and maintenance, etc. We also do hands on attaching combs and cutters to the machine. We do not proceed until everyone is comfortable with the equipment.

In the Lab before lunch we introduce the second concept of effective shearing: KNOW THE PATTERN. We begin by learning the feet placement for the shearer as he moves around the alpaca during shearing. We incorporate line-dancing techniques to aid memory retention and comic relief. We then blend the footwork into the shearing pattern on the alpaca. We do not move on until everyone is comfortable with the pattern.

In the Lab after lunch, we talk about and demonstrate safe Take-down (restraint) and release techniques. We then shear an animal as a demonstration. Students break into teams of three (a shearer, a head holder, and a sweeper) and rotate through the positions until all have shorn an animal.

We then practice restraint and release as we re-shear the alpacas. This emphasizes the third principle of effective shearing: KNOW THE CONTOUR. Our goal is to send everyone home confident enough to do this in their own barn.


All advertising, registration and clerical duties. I like to limit the seminar to 12 people for better control and more intimate teaching. We have taught up to 16, but it makes for a longer day, and some lose focus. Seminar fees per student are your call.

A classroom setting. Tables and chairs for 12 people plus myself. Internet access is a bonus but not required. Electricity to run shears in the classroom. Consideration for weather/temperature in your area for the time period.

Copies of a manual that I will send to you. One for each participant. Pencils, pens, etc.
I strongly recommend a waiver/hold harmless agreement for participants to sign. I can help with wording if you like.

Any other materials/advertising as desired to hand out.

Refreshments. Most hosts have a Continental breakfast/beverages. This is completely up to you. We will take a lunch break. Your choice on how this is handled.

Restroom facilities.

A Laboratory area. We will set up two shearing stations side by side. Each station requires a rectangular area 8 ft X 16 ft minimum. Two solid anchor points for each station.

Electricity and adequate lighting.

Provisions for handling fiber. Bags, brooms, etc, etc.

Gates, catch pens, etc. for convenient penning of animals to be shorn. (just like shearing day).

Minimum of 14 animals to be shorn for each seminar. One for each participant and two for demonstrations. A word of caution: Although with over 400 students graduated from this seminar we have not had any serious cuts or injuries, sometimes legs ,tails and topknots look a little funky. We do clean them up afterwards. I would recommend fiber males if possible.


A manual/handout for you to copy.
All equipment used in classroom and laboratory.
Shearing equipment for sale from Light Livestock equipment.

I am sending this as a beginning point. I will probably think of more things and you will probably have more questions. I firmly believe this is the most extensive seminar of it’s type in the country. You may reference Jay Ward at Light Livestock or the Forsteners at Magical Farms.

My fees are $1000.00 per day for each day of instruction plus travel expenses round trip. I will be coming from NH.