Yeah, for real. Yesterday was rough for the farm -- we lost one of our absolute favorite females, one that we had owned since cria-hood and who was among the most sweet and lovable you will find, to a terrible dystocia. As if she knew that we needed cheering up, our long-overdue dam, Great Day, decided to produce her cria last night. It was a perfect textbook birth, which allowed me to focus exclusively on the question, "Wait ... What color is that?"
At first, I thought he was dark fawn, like his dam; a little disappointing, though any healthy cria is a happy event, and especially so yesterday. As he dried off, though, I realized that he was not fawn at all: he was rose grey. The whole alpaca. All over. Light, lilac-shaded, smoky grey.
As seems to happen not infrequently, a post of his photograph on our Facebook page (and others) evoked some skepticism -- and that's understandable. The photo kinda looks like my camera settings are off, and the eye corrects with what it knows -- which, to an experienced alpaca breeder, is going to be a dark fawn. Perhaps the skeptics are right, and he's going to transform into fawn eventually. I hope not, but it is possible -- I've never had, or even seen, a cria born that was this color, so maybe that's just what they do. Somehow, I doubt it, though. This guy's fleece is really well and truly a lilac color.
I believe that this male represents a "self lilac grey" coloring in alpacas. What the heck does this mean? Well, most alpacas that we call "grey" don't actually have solid grey fleece. They have some grey fibers, along with some white and some black, all mixed together, which looks grey from the outside. Rose greys also have brown fibers. "Self colored" animals are all one solid color -- every hair (or fiber) shaft is the exact same color. "Self grey" is very, very rare in alpacas, but it is something that many serious grey breeders are striving for. This boy's fleece is one of the closest to "self" (solid) lilac grey that I have seen. He does have a few white fibers, though (bolstering the hypothesis that he is indeed a "true grey").
Only time will tell whether my hypothesis is correct, and whether this male will continue to mature into a self lilac grey alpaca. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy watching him grow up ... 'Cos did I mention that, color aside, this little dude's fleece is killer?