11 Things We Didn’t Know About Alpacas Until Visiting Mistletoe Farm

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It only takes one look at alpacas to fall in love. They are just too cute with their fluffy coats and derpy overbite. When we learned about Mistletoe Farm Alpacas in Franklin, Tennessee, we knew that we would have to visit. It’s probably enough to just see alpacas, and honestly, if you just want to skim through the pictures, we wouldn’t blame you. However, our hosts, Leanne and Tom Butchko, were a wealth of information. We learned things we never knew we didn’t know about the alpaca. That’s how we came up with our eleven essential alpaca questions you need to know.

Where do alpacas come from?

Alpacas are native to South America. Particularly high in the Andes of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Ecuador, and Northern Chile. All alpaca are domestic, but they are descendants of the wild vicuña, a South American cousin of the camel.

What’s the difference between alpacas and llamas?

They are both domestic animals, but llamas are larger and used for pack animals. In contrast, alpacas are smaller and primarily used for their coats. Llamas are descendants of the wild camelid guanaco. Alpacas, llamas, and their wild cousins vicuñas and guanacos can still interbreed. It wasn’t until genetic tracing in 2001 that alpacas were reclassified from the guanco line to the vicuña line.

Are there different breeds of alpaca?

Alpacas breeds are either Suri and Huacaya, based more on their coats than scientific classification. Huacuaya is the most prevalent breed, with thick fluffy coats suitable for living high in the Andes. When you picture an alpaca in your mind, it’s probably a Huacaya, with fluffy, full hair. In contrast, a Suri Alpaca has fat, flowing locks. Mistletoe Farm only has Huacaya bloodlines.

How many colors do alpaca come in?

You’ve probably heard that Eskimos have 50 words for snow. Well, there are over 52 colors of alpaca in Peru. Of course, alpaca is central to Peruvian culture and history, like snow is to Eskimos. So much so that alpacas were considered a gift from the gods in Peru. You might even say alpacas are as important to the native Peruvians as snow is to Eskimos. As for the rest of the world, Australia has 12 classified colors, and the United States has 16.

Do alpacas produce wool?

The Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939 is a federal law that requires persons manufacturing or selling products containing wool to accurately label each item. Under the Act, ‘wool’ means “the fiber from the fleece of the sheep or lamb or hair of the Angora or Cashmere goat.” [15 USCS § 68] So, you better not call the hair of alpaca wool, or the sheep mafia will get all up in your grill. The industry term is fiber.

What’s special about alpaca fiber?

Unlike wool, alpaca fiber has no lanolin. It is warmer, softer, and virtually hypoallergenic. A single alpaca can generate five to ten pounds of fiber, usually during their spring shearing. The small folds in alpaca fiber determine its quality. Typically, the crimpier the fiber, the higher the quality.

What kinds of fiber products can you get at Mistletoe Farm Alpacas?

We loved the cute miniature felted alpacas, and the shoe inserts seemed incredibly functional. They even had drier balls and yarn balls too. However, the scarves, hats, and headbands stole the show. We had to take one home with us. What’s even cuter still is that Leanne knew which animal it came from and how she dyed the fiber from plants in her flower garden. Most of these products are from the farm’s own animals and sent to a custom textile house for knitting.

Are alpaca clean animals?

Alpacas might be the cleanest animals in the barnyard. Their fiber naturally repels dirt, so they are always cute and pettable. Not only do they not smell, but they also use a specific part of the pasture for a communal bathroom. It’s like they come litter box trained.

Are alpaca friendly?

We could tell the difference between alpaca born at the farm and those they acquired later in life. The farm alpacas loved to be petted, especially the female alpacas in the morning. The alpacas they brought to the farm weren’t mean or aggressive, but they were a bit shy. The male alpacas were kept in a different pen, and depending on the group and the day, they might not be part of the visit. The staff did a great job making sure the visit was safe and age-appropriate.

Where is Mistletoe Farms?

The farm is located in Middle Tennessee with easy access from I-840 or I-65. It is 18 miles south of Nashville and 10 miles east of Franklin. It’s the perfect add-on to a weekend getaway to Franklin and just around the corner from Arrington Vineyards. The address is 4212 Crowder Road, Franklin, Tennessee 37064 or follow this pin.

How do you visit Mistletoe Farms?

Visits are always by appointment only. Right now, they are only running private visits and require masks at all times. A 1/2 hour private visit is 50$/5 people and an hour visit is 100$/10 people. Hours and times vary based on weather, classes, and the Butchko’s day jobs. Since Tom is a tax accountant, they’re especially limited during tax season (February – May). In the case of rain, visits will need to be rescheduled. The best way to schedule an appointment is through their scheduling link.

Wrapping up our visit to Mistletoe Farms Alpacas

Was this article written just so we could post alpaca pictures? Maybe. But is there anything wrong with that? We hope that you get a chance to visit with alpaca, take a few pictures, maybe buy a hat, and make some good friends with good folks. Thanks for following along, and we hope you learned a thing or two about the adorable alpaca along the way.  
Disclosure: We made this piece in association with Visit Franklin Tennessee and Mistletoe Farm Alpacas. Still, our opinions that alpacas are ridiculously cute are entirely our own. You probably agree since you made it to the bottom of this piece – lol. For more Alpaca inspiration (and a daily dose of cuteness overload) check out their InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts. As always, the views and opinions expressed are our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.

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Mistletoe Farms Alpacas
Mistletoe Farms alpaca
Mistletoe Farm Alpacas

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