Meet Meadowrock's Topaz

Alpaca Registry #35249023
Born May 09, 2015

Momma Opal lovingly attends to her cria who is not quite an hour old. Since Topaz was born she has been cleaned, weighed, rubbed down really good with a towel, dried with a hairdryer, weighed in (19.0#), and yet she still hasn’t tried to stand up. It doesn’t usually take this long and I began to worry. To encourage her, I try lifting her from her sternum. She stands on her front legs but her back legs are tucked up. Oh no! I gently lay her back down and proceed to do some testing. Both legs flex properly as I stretch them, nothing seems to be wrong. Over the next two hours, I sit with her, gently massaging and slowly stretching both her hind legs. In and out, in and out. Once in a while, I lift her into a standing position to measure progress. Finally, she stands on her own, a bit wobbly, but standing. I run and get the camera just in time to capture her first steps you see in the right photo. It’s now 11 am and Topaz is 3.25 hours old.

Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a very long day with these two.

After all the attention and care Opal gave Topaz, she wouldn’t let her nurse. I immediately check Opal’s plumbing only to find plenty of milk and no tenderness.

Breeders keep spare colostrum in the freezer and I go to work thawing mine. By 12:45 pm Topaz, now five hours old, finally eats 1.5 ounces. I don’t want Topaz to bond to me so Jim and I set up a routine of alternating between my bottle-feeding her and then when it’s time for her next feeding, Jim and I work as a team on getting the two of them together.

Jim holds Opal while I gently introduce Topaz under her. Throughout the afternoon we persist and on the fifth round, now 6:25 pm, Topaz nurses while Opal is held around her neck. When Opal isn’t held, as soon as Topaz goes under her she walks away leaving Topaz wondering what happened to lunch. On what we decide to be our last assist of the day, 8 pm mind you, Jim lightly holds Opal around the neck and Topaz nurses for the second time. This time Jim quietly drops his hands to his side and doesn’t move. After a few moments, seeing Opal is accepting Topaz, he takes a slow, small step back. Opal almost walks away but he stays right there with her until she is comfortable again before taking the second step back. Pretty soon Opal and Topaz are standing by themselves in the middle of the stall, mom with cria nursing. Success!

Once the two of them connected, Topaz continued to nurse from Opal until she was almost two years of age, an adult alpaca.

Opal lost a previous cria, her first, Topaz is her second, due to mishandling by a shearer’s assistant. This young man, not knowing any better, kneed her in her side while moving her into position. This was 45 days before her due date and she gave birth three days after shearing. It was simply too early and the cria too underdeveloped. I believe this influenced Opal’s nursing behavior. Even now, you will find Topaz not too far from her mom, Opal.

Topaz is now one-week old and I separate Topaz & Opal from the herd to give them more bonding time together and take their picture. Topaz is strong, curious, and full of energy. She is the first of three cria born in 2015. She will be two and half months old before Gypsy, the next cria is born.

At two months, Topaz is cria sheared. We leave their face and legs unshorn not only because it makes them look so cute but also to get the shearing done more quickly so we don’t overly stress our young juvenile alpaca. She’s a handsome girl!

At four months, Topaz feigns shyness. Don’t let her fool you. When you come for your tour, out of the herd, Topaz will most likely be the one that will allow you to hug her, she is very sweet.