Alpaca Shearing and Fiber Sorting Training

Although this event has passed, this page has remained published for reference.
Want to learn how to shear alpacas? Want to know what to do with your herd’s fiber once it’s sheared off?


For the first time ever, SUNY of Cobleskill, NY is offering the Fiber Sorting & Grading Courses in conjunction with the Alpaca Shearing Seminar. Take your current fiber business to the next level or become certified in sorting or shearing to create another stream of income. This is also great for those looking to start a new business as a professional alpaca shearer or certified fiber sorter.
May 11-14, 2018 ~ Orleans, Nebraska

May 11 Sorting & Grading Basic Course
May 12-14 Sorting & Grading Advanced Course
May 12-14 Beginner Alpaca Shearing Seminar (by Premium Harvest Shearing)

Choose the Sorting or Shearing track for yourself or come as a team to learn it all. Since shearing and sorting are so closely related to one another in the outcome of alpaca products and an alpaca business’ bottom line, the sorting students will get some time with the shearing class and shearing students with the sorting class.


Sorting & Grading Basic Course (May 11, 2018)

Once the fiber is sheared, it must be assessed in order to determine what product it is best suited to become. The Basic 1-day course offers an introduction to a standardized US Fiber Sorting/Grading program and is designed for anyone interested in learning more about natural fiber production. Both current producers and non-producers will benefit from the knowledge gained in this informative course. The goal is to have natural fiber producers gain the knowledge to return to their farm and organize their fiber for production. Management, harvesting, and sorting are the building blocks for the workshop with hands-on time to gain experience. Information on yarn production is included to familiarize the students with processing at artisan mills. Students will leave the one-day event with the tools they need to get their fiber out of storage and separated so that they can maximize yield and minimize cost at their mill. In addition, it will prepare them with the background knowledge necessary to continue into the Advanced Course and, if desired, the Apprenticeship/Mentor Program. To learn more about the Sorting & Grading Courses, visit the Sort Grade Class website (link). The cost of this 1-day course is $150. To register for the Sorting & Grading Basic Course, go to the SUNY Cobleskill website (link).


Sorting & Grading Advanced Course (May 12-14, 2018)

In this Advanced 3-day Course, you will build on the overview and training presented in the 1-day Basic Course (a prerequisite).  It is geared to those individuals who want more in-depth education and/or are interested in developing a business sorting for other fiber bearing livestock owners or fiber purchasers. After a review of material covered previously, this course will provide a more in-depth study of fiber characteristics, structure, types, and how to identify them. An extensive review of fiber samples along with hands-on fleece evaluation, sorting, and grading will follow. You will have the opportunity to examine alpaca, wool, and other fiber types we have available. In addition, instruction in documentation and record keeping will be presented, along with requirements for different sorting clients as it will be required for those who choose to continue the training in the Apprenticeship. To learn more about this course and the requirements for the apprenticeship, visit the Sort Grade Class website (link). The cost of this 3-day course is $475. To register for the Sorting & Grading Advanced Course, go to the SUNY Cobleskill website (link).


3-Day Beginner Alpaca Shearing Seminar (May 12-14, 2018)

Proper shearing of your alpacas is essential to the health of your herd and the profitability of your business. This seminar will focus on the most important aspects of learning to shear alpacas successfully as well as in-depth classroom teachings on equipment function and proper use. The rest of your 3 days will be spent on the shearing mat shearing & handling alpacas. You will come away from this class KNOWING how to properly shear alpacas for maximum harvest. Great for those who are interested in starting an alpaca shearing business, want greater control over the outcome of their shearing days, or simply want the flexibility to shear on their own timeline. You are welcome to bring your own alpacas, but it is not necessary. Both huacaya and suri alpacas will be provided for your training. You can find a more detailed class description on the Premium Harvest Shearing website (link). The cost of this 3-day seminar is $325. To register for the Beginner Alpaca Shearing Seminar, go to the SUNY Cobleskill website (link).



Harlan County Fairgrounds
506 S. Nebraska Avenue
Orleans, Nebraska

The Sorting & Grading Courses will be held in the Ag Center and the Shearing Seminar in the Sheep Barn. There is plenty of covered barn spaces for you to bring your own alpacas to shear. Water and electricity will be available. Hay can be provided upon request. Contact Tashia Butterfield of Butterfield Alpaca Ranch, our host, with any on-site or logistical questions at or (308) 920-0865.


A block of rooms is reserved at the Super 8 in Alma (link) under “alpaca training”. Many other hotels, B&Bs, and cabins are available in the area as well. Check out the Harlan County Tourism website (link) for more information.

Alma is located next to the Harlan County Reservoir, the second largest lake in Nebraska, so there are many RV/camping pads available throughout the area. You can find a listing on the Harlan County Tourism website (link), including information on those available by the Village of Orleans where the classes are being held. Choose Alma for lake access and views. Choose Orleans for closest proximity to the classes.

Travel – Drive Times & Airports

– Drive Times –
Wichita, KS – 4 hours
Denver, CO – 5.25 hours
Kansas City, MO – 5.25 hours
Des Moines, IA – 5.5 hours
Sioux Falls, SD – 6 hours
Oklahoma City, OK – 6.25 hours
Casper, WY – 7.25 hours
Minneapolis, MN – 9 hours

– Closest Airports –
Harlan County is a small farming community with lots to offer, but nearby commercial airports is not one of them. Airports are listed below in the order of proximity to Orleans/Alma. The longer you are willing to drive, the cheaper airfare will be. Pick-up and drop-off by the host farm, Butterfield Alpaca Ranch, can be requested for the Kearney and Grand Island airports and they will do their best to accommodate.

Kearney, NE – EAR – 1 hour drive away
Grand Island, NE – GRI – 1.75 hours drive away
Lincoln, NE – LNK – 2.75 hours drive away
Omaha, NE – OMA – 3.5 hours drive away

About the Area

Orleans and Alma are located near the Harlan County Reservoir/Lake, which is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. As the second largest lake in the state, it offers a plethora of activities from boating, fishing, and hiking to shopping, museums, and live theatre. Make this more than a business trip and explore the beauty and culture that this charming area of Nebraska has to offer. Visit the Harlan County Tourism website (link) for more information.

Need to Know More?

For class information, please call SUNY/Cobleskill or Wini Labrecque (724) 272-4285.
For area information, contact Tashia Butterfield of Butterfield Alpaca Ranch, at or (308) 920-0865.


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