High Desert Cowboy- How far is it up north?

Bruce

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I have the Premier 1 4000S. I can't get through 1 side of 1 alpaca before the shears stop cutting. I've watched dozens of alpaca shearing videos. I've tried making sure I wasn't doing second cuts, I oiled more, I oiled less, took the head apart many times to get all fiber bits out and nothing seems to work. I have 2 thoughts - either I really suck at this or the boys are just so dirty the blade dulls almost immediately. The do spend a fair bit of time rolling around in the dirt pit they made.

The company deserves its good reputation. I called them, got hints, sent the unit back for them to check out to make sure everything was right. Not only did they check out the machine and pay shipping both ways, they sharpened both the camelid and regular blade/comb sets - free. The only things I paid for were the oil and hand shears I ordered.

If the shearing guy comes around this spring I'm going to watch closely, ask questions and maybe he'll try with my shears. I don't know when he might show up or when you want to shear but if it is determined that these boys can't be sheared with this machine and you are still pre shearing/pre-purchase, I'll send them to you if you pay shipping.
 

purplequeenvt

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I have the Premier 1 4000S. I can't get through 1 side of 1 alpaca before the shears stop cutting. I've watched dozens of alpaca shearing videos. I've tried making sure I wasn't doing second cuts, I oiled more, I oiled less, took the head apart many times to get all fiber bits out and nothing seems to work. I have 2 thoughts - either I really suck at this or the boys are just so dirty the blade dulls almost immediately. The do spend a fair bit of time rolling around in the dirt pit they made.

The company deserves its good reputation. I called them, got hints, sent the unit back for them to check out to make sure everything was right. Not only did they check out the machine and pay shipping both ways, they sharpened both the camelid and regular blade/comb sets - free. The only things I paid for were the oil and hand shears I ordered.

If the shearing guy comes around this spring I'm going to watch closely, ask questions and maybe he'll try with my shears. I don't know when he might show up or when you want to shear but if it is determined that these boys can't be sheared with this machine and you are still pre shearing/pre-purchase, I'll send them to you if you pay shipping.
You need a blower to blow all (or at least some) of the dirt out prior to shearing. That’s what I always did with my llamas back when I had them. Blowing them out makes it a little easier on the blades.

I generally sheared with handshears.
 

High Desert Cowboy

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So far we are still producing as normal. Finisher pigs from this area go to California, and more wean to finish barns have recently been built which gives us some breathing room. If California closes down, then I’ll be hurting but for now it is business as usual. So knock on wood, cross your fingers, and say a prayer that California stays good and these other plants open back up quickly.
 

Ridgetop

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Here is more information on shears.
Bruce: Do you use a ceramic cutter? Most of the poor reviews on the Premier 4000 clipper were about llama and alpaca shearing. Switching to the ceramic cutter seemed to do the trick for them, as well as helped solve the problem of blades dulling too fast.

However, Llama and alpaca wool is completely different from sheep wool. It helps to know some stuff about differences in wool and clippers. Here is some information if anyone is looking to buy a large set of sheep shears.

For years Lister topped the list in sheep shearing tools. Both in the way they worked and in the price. Lister clippers when they first came out (30 years ago) were priced in the $1000.00-2000.00 + range, compared to the next highest priced brand at about $200.00. They were very lightweight, ran cool, and using them was compared to cutting through butter with a hot knife. The first Listers use a blade that was not interchangeable with any other brand, so you were in the hook for a lot more than the price of the clipper itself by the time you bought all the necessary blades. Remember, since blades dull so quickly, you always have to have at least 2-3 sharpened extra sets available while shearing. They were mostly owned by commercial shearers or wealthy showmen with whom showing sheep was a religion. Now they have come down considerably in price, and there are a lot of other comparable clippers in the market. At that time Oster was still the go-to clipper, being reliable and reasonably priced. The brand had been around for a long time so most cattle or horse showmen had one. The benefit to the Oster was if you already had one you could buy a sheep head and some sheep shearing blades and you were in business. Most of the 4-H kids with a single lamb to slick shear for Fair hired someone to put a show clip on their washed lambs. About the time the Lister was making its expensive appearance on the scene 2 other shears showed up. Heinigger was a German company with an excellent reputation and quality. They were more money than Oster, but lighter weight which is a factor when shearing. Shearing with a 5 lb. shears as opposed to a 7 or 8 lb. shears makes a big difference when shearing a flock. The next clipper was the Andis. This clipper was even lighter due to the plastic components. It was already a well-known brand in goat circles for its small clippers with interchangeable blades in different sizes.

There are newer clippers on the market now, some of them around $100.00. I would be careful of those less known cheaper ones, particularly the ones made in China. They are not very good, don’t hold the edge, and go bad quickly. Always read all the reviews about these clippers on different websites. Since these days most people buy on line instead at a sheep show where you can handle the tool and ask questions, getting as much information from other people is key.

First, what allows sheep wool to be spun are the microscopic barbs on the individual wool strands. The finer the micron of the wool as in the fine wool breeds, i.e. Merino and Rambouillet, the smaller the barbs. The coarser the wool strands, the easier the spinning since the larger barbs catch easier. Our Dorset wool was easy to spin, that type of wool is usually used for outer or more durable clothing like sweaters, socks, etc. Fine wool is used in items that would touch the skin since they can be spun into thinner wool strands. Fine wool is a bit harder to spin into yarn.

Second, sheep fleece is also full of lanolin. This is why stuff sticks in the wool, requiring the fleece to be “skirted” or picked over before washing and processing it into spinning wool batts. Fine wool breeders who raise their sheep for the niche market of hand spinning wool often keep their sheep in canvas coats if they don’t have lush grassy pastures. The lightweight cotton or canvass coats or blankets keep burrs, straw, etc. out of the wool. The lanolin filled wool of sheep causes more friction on the blades while shearing, collects dirt and adheres it to the fibers causing dulling of blades. Use of Kool Lube and blade wash while shearing can help with those problems. An interesting tidbit – sheep people call the unwashed fleece “in the grease”. A fleece weighs more before washing and processing because of the lanolin in the fleece. There are some people who prefer to spin fleece ‘in the grease’, however most home spinners prefer to use washed wool.

Third, llama and alpacas have different wool than sheep, Their wool has no barbs. Spinners have trouble spinning llama or alpaca hair alone because there are no barbs to catch and hold to each other during the process. Most spinners blend their llama and alpaca wool with sheep wool. The addition of the sheep wool provides the necessary barbs on the strands to enable the wool to twist into yarn.

This is the reason why there are different blades (camelid for llamas, alpacas, camelid species) as opposed to shearing blades that have wide ‘fingers” to lift the fleece up away from the body. Other types of blades are “finishing blades” used to cut a short coat of lamb wool almost to the skin for the show ring.

The blades except some of the large shearing blades are interchangeable on most of the heads so they can be used on other species. MOST IMPORTANT is the type of head you have on your clipper. Unless you have a sheep head, the head will not have enough power to cut through the lanolin rich wool of sheep no matter what blade you use. A heavy duty shearing clipper with a cattle head will not do the job even though it looks impressively powerful.

The pork packing plant I heard had closed was owned by a Chinese company here in America on the east coast or the Midwest.
 

Bruce

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You need a blower to blow all (or at least some) of the dirt out prior to shearing. That’s what I always did with my llamas back when I had them. Blowing them out makes it a little easier on the blades.

I generally sheared with handshears.
Hmmm, I can only imagine how they would freak out with the compressor running and a high wind blowing on them. But it might be worth a shot with Teddy since he is more calm.

Bruce: Do you use a ceramic cutter? Most of the poor reviews on the Premier 4000 clipper were about llama and alpaca shearing. Switching to the ceramic cutter seemed to do the trick for them, as well as helped solve the problem of blades dulling too fast.
No I have the metal cutters.
 

Ridgetop

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You might want to try the ceramic cutters before discarding your shears. The angle at which you hold the blades is also important. If you hold it at too steep an angle the blades get tangled and don't cut properly. You have to hold the shears with the blades horizontal to the skin. Using your other hand to pull the skin taut as you shear helps too. What do the blades sound like when the cutter is running? They should sound smooth with no clicking.

Definitely have your shearer try your Premier shears when he comes. Then have him watch you shear for a bit as you get the hang of it. Most problems shearing are due to operator error putting on the blades, dull blades, angle of shearing, dirty wool, lack of Kool Lube on the blades to cool them down, or all the previous. I don't put the blades on our clippers. I have DS1 do it, In Jr. Hi and Hi school he used to do shearing demonstrations to grade schools and the public at Farm Days. He was very good - a nice smooth job, never nicked a ewe, and the fleece came off in one piece! LOL
 

High Desert Cowboy

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I purchased the 4000S with metal blades and I bought a separate ceramic blade and 13 tooth comb to try as well. I’ll definitely post about it. Skunk started looking bad again yesterday, and was pretty lethargic today so he got a bottle and seemed to look better. He’ll just have to go to a bottle I suppose. My friend who took the triplet last year has another boy who asked if I had another bottle lamb this year. That lamb did so well after they tube fed it for three days and kept it by the stove I figured it’d be as good a place as any for the little guy. And he’s not near that gone. He nurses a bottle just fine and seems plenty energetic.
 

Ridgetop

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That sounds like a plan. Bummer lambs are a pain in the neck to busy shepherds. Sounds like you made a good decision. I will be watching to see how you like your shears. I am always watching for anything that would be easier for me. The Heiniggers are great, but get heavy after a couple sheep. This is why many of my Dorpers have mushroom tops. I persuade myself that it shades their skin so they don't get sunburn. I am just too lazy to shear their backs. I do have a large brush off a road sweeper that I would ike to get mounted on a post so the sheep can scratch and rub off their shedding fleece. It is currently laying in the night g=fold but I never see them go near it. By them gifts, but do they appreciate them?
 

High Desert Cowboy

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So updates....The premier shears came, but I haven’t really had a lot of time to test them out, we’re hoping tomorrow will be a good time. I found out the bottle lamb skunk didn’t make it. He just wouldn’t drink, it would take forever for him to finish a bottle because he just wasn’t interested in eating. Total opposite of his sister, who is a tenacious eater and will spend forever suckling to get some food in her. Bellwether will not stand still for her and on a couple of occasions has turned around to head butt her own lamb for nursing on her. We have to hold her still a couple times during the day so the poor little thing can get enough to eat. I plan on weaning this poor little thing ASAP so that I can send bellwether to the Navajos, they like these older mutton ewes. They’re separated to the smaller pen which is a true blessing because it’s been easier to work the dogs. Bellwether would never flock up and made things difficult, and once I’d put Bella on her she’d stop and not go anywhere. Dotty stil looks huge but no babies, if she doesn’t change something soon I’m going to have to change plans. I’ve been avoiding stressing everyone too much because I don’t know with her but it’s getting hot and things need to be done. At this rate I’ll end up with 3 babies and two useless ewes so I probably won’t get much as far as selling them. The plan may devolve into keeping Ivory for next year so that I can at least have something to breed, I probably won’t earn enough this year to buy more ewes. But putting lambs on the ground next year can help buy for the following year, so my plans aren’t derailed, just slowed down a little.
I did finally get a break this weekend and spent Friday and Saturday branding which is a blast when you get the right crew. Gathering cows in the corrals and dragging calves to the fire is a great time and always worth some laughs. Someone brought a metal plate to heat up with the the irons so that we could cook up some Rocky Mountain Oysters as we worked and it was hilarious watching my boy try one for the first time. He took one bite and spit it out then turned a little green when I ate a couple. I also got vaccinated with bovi-shield and a copper and selenium booster so I’m set! Overall a great time and a good escape.
 

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