at Hillot farm, everyone is crazy about alpacas

As soon as she walked in…

As soon as she entered the first encirclement, Carlos and Raul, two young men, lunged at Carola, who appeased them with her words, sometimes in French, sometimes in German. The 50-year-old explains that more than 15 years ago she and her husband met an alpaca breeder not far from their town of Ulm, near Munich. “I immediately fell in love with these monsters,” said the man who gave up his secretarial job overnight to settle in the Landes.

There are between 6,000 and 10,000 alpacas in France.

Thibault Toulemonde

Today, the appearance of his first animals seems far away. Now, she’s the one we contact when someone no longer knows what to do with their alpacas. The animal can be purchased without more conditions than a cat, for a fee of 1,500 to 2,500 euros. “I picked up Carlos from a divorced family,” Carola pointed out, restraining the frenzy of the two imitation llamas, which rushed to the bucket of cereal she was holding. “I collected it because of its black wool, which is quite rare. »

Wool is hypoallergenic

Breeders do not maintain herds just to please the eye. A stone hurled from the surrounding area, adjacent to the Schölls’ home, was Carola’s spinning mill. She holds workshops there to learn how to spin alpaca wool, which is warmer than sheep’s wool and, above all, hypoallergenic. At the start of the holiday, his agenda is almost complete for the coming days.

When she’s not teaching with her spinning wheel and manual carding machine, the 50-year-old works on her creations, sweaters, hats, scarves and even earrings. “With the amount of wool needed, I couldn’t shoot my animals alone. After they are cut, I send the raw materials to a micro-spinning mill in Marmande, which works with all types of wool, she says. I can buy alpaca wool directly, but I want to be sure of the original quality. »

There are between 6,000 and 10,000 alpacas in France. A number too low to hope to apply the common and strict specifications to French breeders. “The quality of alpaca wool is divided into five categories. But France does not have enough breeders to identify more than two qualities,” pointed out Clare Faber, vice president of the South-East and North (Arsen) Alpacas association.

“I fear that one day we will have the same problems as for some breeds”

Nor can a real French alpaca wool industry be found. Even less to hope to compete with the actual prices of the Peruvian market, where 4 million were listed in 2012. A partnership with the German market, offered more in alpacas, even even the Netherlands, could be a solution. “It was complex enough to bring together French breeders …”, Clare Faber refuted.

The frame is used for spinning wool.

The frame is used for spinning wool.

Thibault Toulemonde

animal care

Carola Schöll sees another dark spot in this European conglomerate. “German breeders are in a genetic race to have furry alpacas so that they are more profitable,” she said. I am afraid that one day we will have the same inbreeding problems as with certain breeds, with animals that are in poor health. »

Her animals, the breeder takes care of them the most. She refused to exceed 13 and sold, after assuring the seriousness and precaution of potential buyers, that the males had reached adulthood and she did not want to count as stallions. All to be able to work with her husband to ensure optimal herd tracking between mowing, filing teeth, trimming nails, deworming… She even offers breeding lessons for future alpaca buyers.

Alpaca wool is warmer than sheep's wool and above all hypoallergenic.

Alpaca wool is warmer than sheep’s wool and above all hypoallergenic.

Thibault Toulemonde

His animals are always aged 31 to welcome curious children to visit the Hillot farm. Carola laughs: “There are 300 to 500 people coming to see us every year. I love watching the kids open their eyes wide when they see the animals. I am not able to stop immediately. »

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