A WA teenager has began an alpaca shearing enterprise on house soil after travelling the world and shearing the weird creatures.
Ethan Gellatly, 19, branched out and launched his personal enterprise two years in the past after seeing the chance to capitalise on a job many sheep shearers don’t love to do.
The WA Faculty of Agriculture — Harvey graduate has alpaca shearing all the way down to a effective artwork and works together with his wool-handling mate Brendan Evans.
The pair met at college, with Brendan a few years older, and now they journey the State shearing alpacas collectively.
They journey from their house in Perth to go to farms scattered between Geraldton and Albany.
Whereas most of their purchasers have fewer than 10 alpacas as pets, some use as many as 40 alpacas to assist guard sheep flocks with about two or three assigned to a mob at a time.
“Shearing is simply one thing I’ve at all times liked,” Ethan mentioned.
A fourth-generation sheep shearer and third-generation alpaca shearer, Ethan first picked up a comb on the age of seven, serving to his father — Trevor Gellatly — shear sheep within the WA Wheatbelt.
One in every of Ethan’s fondest reminiscences was when, on the age of 5, his grandfather helped him to shear a sheep at a shed in Corrigin.
“Just about from that age I needed to shear,” Ethan mentioned.
Born in Pingelly, Ethan moved to Perth together with his household when he was a baby however continued to tag alongside when his father Trevor would journey to shear sheep throughout WA.
Ethan boarded at WA Faculty of Agriculture — Harvey and specialised in sheep husbandry, however discovered he was drawn to alpaca shearing for one thing completely different.
Ethan has shearing in his blood.
His great-uncle Kevin Gellatly is well-known within the business as a sheep-shearing legend, an Australian Wool Innovation shearer coach and a member of the Australian Shearers’ Corridor of Fame.
Ethan himself is at present the Australian novice champion for sheep shearing after final 12 months successful the novice remaining competitors on the Australian Nationwide Shearing Championships in Dubbo.
Kevin began to shear alpacas within the US about twenty years in the past after alpaca stud house owners caught wind of his skills and flew him the world over to assist with the exhausting activity.
“The enterprise began to get too massive for him, and so my dad began going over to assist, and consequently I ended up tagging alongside too,” Ethan mentioned.
He has now travelled the world, travelling to the US to assist his father with woolhandling between the age of six and 15 earlier than a fast break to complete highschool.
Final 12 months, Ethan determined to begin shearing within the US on his personal after years of serving to his father.
He then spent three months shearing alpacas alongside the east coast between New York State and North Carolina this 12 months, shearing 30 to 100 alpacas at every farm.
Whereas alpaca shearing would possibly appear to be a random option to make a residing to some, Ethan is comfortable to be making a residing doing one thing he’s good at and in addition enjoys.
He’s flat out shearing for 20 to 28 days a month, and has learnt loads about enterprise alongside the best way.
In Australia, alpacas are shorn between September and February whereas within the US they’re shorn between March and June.
The precise shearing doesn’t take lengthy — about 4 or 5 minutes — however that timeframe is doubled by the 5 minutes or so it takes to arrange every animal.
“Alpacas are what we politely say as soiled, they spit, they’re loud … they scream generally when they’re shorn,” he mentioned.
“It’s fairly daunting for a sheep shearer to begin shearing alpacas, it’s utterly completely different.
“Like sheep, they get overgrown (with out shearing) after which it’s unhealthy for the animal.”
Whereas laid out, the alpacas are additionally given what Ethan jokes is a mini spa therapy — a fast enamel and toenail trim and any well being injections they want.
Alpacas are well-known for spitting, however the aforementioned screeching and spitting is uncommon.
Ethan mentioned the calm animals had been truly “fairly skittish” and timid, which meant it didn’t take loads to maneuver an alpaca.
“So similar to low-stress inventory dealing with, if you happen to get inside their bubble they may transfer away,” he mentioned.
“Each on occasion you’re going to get an aggravated male, like a variety of completely different livestock. To allow them to be aggressive.”
As his personal boss and a younger man operating his personal enterprise, Ethan mentioned he had learnt that “phrase of mouth is the whole lot”.
“In the event you do a very good job, individuals are going to speak about it,” he mentioned.
“It didn’t take lengthy for my shopper base to blow up, as a result of there may be a variety of work.”