True Ameraucana Chickens

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.

 EASTER EGGER

 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

OLIVE EGGER

 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

AMERAUCANA

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

ARAUCANA  

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/

We have investigated the local southern Utah country stores regarding their chick hatcheries.  After some digging around we were able to call up and speak with the hatchery.

After a long chat, we have concluded that the hatcheries are indeed supplying some form of Easter Egger. They will claim otherwise, however they also falsely claim that their breeding stock is sourced from the Araucana bloodlines of Chili and then were “Americanized”, hence the name.  Made for a good laugh 🙂   They also had never heard of the APA standard and had no idea on the correct colors.

I have confirmed that there is a hatchery who actually sells Ameraucanas and talked to the manager personally.  He did have the correct information and was familiar with the APA standard.  He told me it is very upsetting to him that other hatcheries call the Easter Eggers an Ameraucana.  He also knew exactly what he was talking about and gave direct answers unlike the other hatcheries who gave impartial answers.

I  recommend if you would like actual Ameraucana, Araucana, or similar breeds you work with a small breeder or local source with true bloodlines.  If you are unable to find one, the hatchery below does have the correct information and can provide you with a true Ameraucana.

Cackle Hatchery  https://www.cacklehatchery.com/baby-chicks/colored-egg-layers.html

The two hatcheries I called up that one of our local country stores uses are from Idaho and Iowa.  I would avoid these hatcheries if possible.

More resources to learn

http://www.amerpoultryassn.com/BC_Links.htm

http://www.backyardchickens.com/products/olive-egger

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/361185/easter-egger-club

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