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PHOTO: Jean Bungartz/Wikimedia Commons
Use: These colorful chickens are actually two distinct breeds, known for production of blue shelled eggs. Unique feathering traits also make these both ornamental breeds.
History: There is often much confusion about these blue egg laying chickens. Araucana chickens were first imported into the United States in the early 1930’s. Little is known about their history prior to that time. They were admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1976. Ameraucana chickens were developed in the 1970’s in the United States from Araucanas. They were developed as a practical barnyard fowl that laid pastel shelled eggs, but without some of the limiting genetic factors related to rumplessness and tufts. Ameraucanas were admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1984.
Conformation: Araucanas are a medium-sized chicken with a plump and well-fleshed carcass. They have a pea comb, tufts protruding from each side of the neck, no tail and are recognized in Black, Black Red, Golden Duckwing, Silver Duckwing and White varieties. They lay blue shelled eggs. Standard weights: Cock: 5 lbs., Cockerel: 4 lbs., Hen: 4 lbs., Pullet: 3 ½ lbs. Ameraucanas are slightly larger than Araucanas lending the breed to more usefulness as a dual purpose chicken. They also lay blue shelled eggs. Ameraucanas have a pea comb, a beard and muffs and all varieties have slate colored legs. They are recognized in Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten and White. Standard weights: Cock: 6 ½ lbs., Cockerel: 5 ½ lbs., Hen: 5 ½ lbs., Pullet: 4 ½ lbs.
Special Considerations/Notes: Many hatcheries over the years have sold ‘Araucanas’, ‘Ameraucanas’ or most recently ‘Easter Eggers’ which is a non-standard mix of chicken that lays blue shelled eggs. The blue egg shell trait is dominant and crossing with other breeds leads to a variety of pastel shell colors including shades of green and pink as well as blue. Pure specimens of either breed have the specific traits listed above; other chickens that lay colored eggs without those specific traits are likely crossbreeds known as Easter Eggers.