The Fascinating Case of the Dutch-Hungarian Alpacas
What connects the Andes highlands, the Netherlands and Hungary? Alpacas!
Soft fur, long necks and large, expressive, black eyes - the alpaca is a novel trend in Hungary. But how did these descendants of the South American vicuña end up here? Ms. Katalin Könye, owner of the Őrségi Patakparti Alpaka Farm answers our questions.
The alpaca farm is located in the Őrség National Park, and is surrounded by verdant, green forests. It has a guest house and visitors can pet the alpacas grazing in green pastures surrounded by a rustic, sylvan landscape.
“We started breeding alpacas eight years ago,” Ms. Könye tells us, “and we bought our first three animals from Dutch farmers at Alpaca Oord (Dutch language link). They were a lot of help and we are still friends. They visit us from time to time.”
According to Ms. Könye, alpacas are still a very new trend domestically. Most own them as pets – However, this South American member of the Camelidae family can actually be a source of income. The Őrségi Patakparti Alpaka Farm actually breeds them as livestock animals. Their wool is softer, lighter, and less prickly than sheep wool.
“Our Dutch partners did the shearing in the first few years,” she explains, “They were the ones who taught us – as well as other breeders in Hungary – how to shear these animals.” The farm now breeds their own alpacas and produces quality threads for knitting as well as souvenirs, made from alpaca wool.
Joining the alpaca scene is a little tricky. “Many animals that you can buy in Hungary today are actually alpaca-llama crossbreeds. You can buy these for HUF 200-300 thousand (€580-870), but licensed, purebred alpacas start at HUF 500 thousand (€1.450),” remarks Ms. Könye. This is the reason that they chose Kevin Hamstra at Alpaca Oord in the Netherlands as a partner. “These Dutch breeds are reliable, documented and licensed, which is important,” she tells us.
Will the Patakparti Alpaka Farm sell purebred alpacas in Hungary? “Our grounds provide ample space for the animals for now,” Ms. Könye says. “But as the herd grows, males will start fighting each other, so we might indeed start selling them in the future.”
Why do farmers really choose the alpaca? “In truth, because they’re beautiful animals,” Ms. Könye answers. “We just love them!”
With special thanks to Katalin Könye of the Őrségi Patakparti Alpaka Farm.