As soon as she enters the first …
As soon as she enters the first enclosure, Carlos and Raul, two young males, rush upon Carola, who reassures them with her words, sometimes in French, sometimes in German. The 50-year-old explains that a little over 15 years ago she and her husband met an alpaca breeder not far from their city of Ulm, near Munich. “I immediately fell in love with these beasts,” says the one who gave up his job as secretary overnight to come and settle in Landes.
The arrival of his first animal seems far away today. It is now her we contact when a person no longer knows what to line up with his alpacas. The animal can be acquired without more conditions than a cat, for a fee of between 1,500 and 2,500 euros. “I picked up Carlos from a divorced family,” Carola points out, holding back the zeal from the two imitated llamas who rush to the bucket of grain she’s holding. “I collected it for its black wool, which is quite rare. »
The breeder does not maintain his herd only for the pleasure of the eyes. A stone’s throw from the fences adjacent to the Schöll couple’s house is Carola’s spinning workshop. There she holds workshops to learn how to spin alpaca wool, which is warmer than sheep wool and above all allergy-friendly. By the start of the holiday, his agenda is already almost finished for the coming days.
When not teaching with her spinning wheel and her manual cards, the 50-year-old works on her creations, sweaters, hats, scarves and even earrings. “Given the amount of wool needed, I can not spin my animals alone. After they are cut, I send the raw material to a micro-spinning mill in Marmande, which works with all types of wool,” she says. I could buy alpaca wool directly, but I prefer to be sure of the original quality. “
There are between 6,000 and 10,000 alpacas in France. A figure far too low to hope to apply common and stringent 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, ”points out Clare Faber, vice president of the association Alpaca’s Southeast and North Regions (Arsenic).
“I am afraid that one day we will come to the same problems of kinship as in certain dog breeds”
It was also impossible to found a real French alpaca wool industry. Even less to hope to compete with the prices practiced in the Peruvian market, where 4 million animals were listed in 2012. An approximation to the German market, more delivered in alpacas, even Dutch, could be a solution. “It’s already complicated enough to gather French breeders …”, rejects Clare Faber.
Carola Schöll sees another dark spot in this European consortium. “German breeders are in a race for genetics to get more and more hairy alpacas, so they are more profitable,” she says. I am afraid that one day we will come to the same inbreeding problems as with certain dog breeds, with animals in fragile health. »
Her animals, the breeder takes the greatest care of them. She refuses to exceed 13 heads and sells, having ensured the seriousness and caution of the potential buyer, the males who have reached maturity and whom she does not want to count as a stallion. All in order to work with her husband to ensure an optimal follow-up of her herd, between clipping, filing teeth, nail clipping, deworming … She even gives breeding hours to future alpaca buyers.
His animals are always on their 31st to welcome the curious, children in mind who visit the Hillot farm. “Between 300 and 500 people come to see us every year,” Carola smiles. I love watching the kids open their eyes when they see the animals. I probably won’t stop right away. »