Ameraucana, Araucana, Easter Egger, Olive Egger, Rainbow Layer. What’s the difference?
So you’re ready to buy these cute fluffy chicks that everyone is raving about! Blue eggs, rainbow layers, who wouldn’t want some of these beautiful hardy birds with the fun egg colors? You walk into your local country store and see them and the sign says Ameraucana/ Araucana.
The fact is these little guys are a hybrid of various genetic backgrounds that happen to possess a blue gene. Most of the commercial hatcheries mistakenly label all of these as Ameraucanas. This post serves as a guide to help clear up the confusion on all of the names you may see.
An Easter Egger is a hybrid chicken that possesses a single blue egg gene from one of its parents. They are not recognized by the APA and not considered a specific breed. They do not breed true season after season. They lay a large to extra large egg. Egg colors range from blues, to greens, pinks and even browns. They are used for eggs and not meat as the body structure is usually quite small (we have eaten a few and they are best left to a slow roast (crockpot even) and then picked for pulled sandwich meat).
The reason hatcheries call Easter Eggers an Ameraucana is simply due to lack of understanding about the specific genetic traits of an Ameraucana.
Some examples of a parent carrying the blue egg laying gene would be: Ameraucana, Araucana, Cream legbar
An Olive Egger is another hybrid breed that possesses a blue egg gene crossed with a very dark brown egg gene. They are not recognized by the APA and not considered a specific breed. Like the Easter Egger, they also do not breed true. They lay a large to extra large egg. Egg colors are medium to very dark green. New chicks born from a blue egg gene parent and dark brown gene parent are typically called first generation olive eggers. You can breed a first generation olive egger a second time with a dark brown layer which gives you an even darker green color.
Some examples of a set of parents for the Olive Egger are:
Dark Brown– Maran, Welsummer, Barnevelder
Blue– Ameraucana, Araucana, Cream Legbar
A&B- Cal Ranch EE, C- Half Blue Ameraucana & half Welsummer from breeder
Ameraucanas breed true and have 8 large fowl colors recognized by the APA standard (as of 2016). Ameraucanas only lay a slate blue egg, have a pea comb, have slate blue legs, red ear lobes, and are tailed, muffed and bearded. The recognized plumage colors are Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, White and then the Self Blue (Lavender) may be added in 2017 which would make a 9th. Ameraucanas are mostly only available through breeders with a few hatcheries picking them up recently. Ameraucanas and the Araucanas are also more flighty as they had natural select breeding from predators throughout their existence.
The Ameraucana was bred from the Araucana. It took many generations of perfecting the Ameraucana to have a tail, a muff and beard.
If you would like to do further research on the Ameraucana chicken visit this website http://ameraucanabreedersclub.org
Araucanas breed true with 5 large fowl colors recognized by the APA standard. They only lay a blue egg, have a pea comb, and are rumpless, have tuft fathers, willowed legs except for the black and white, with yellow or white skin. Similar to Ameraucana, Araucana are only available through breeders.
Learn more about the Araucana at http://www.araucana.net/