Ameraucanas or Easter Eggers?

Our store flock consists of four very friendly and colorful chickens who love visitors and don’t even mind having children poke their fingers through the fence. One is a Lavender Orpington and the other three we generally call Ameraucanas. But after reading this story by Rachel Conlin in Mother Earth News, we might have to start calling one of them an Easter Egger.

We are well aware that true Araucanas are both rare and difficult to keep in these northern climes, so we generally have been skeptical when we hear that someone has Araucanas for sale unless it’s a reputable breeder. But we have assumed that most of the birds who lay blue or green eggs and look sort of Araucana-like probably are Ameraucanas. Now we're not so sure.

Which do you have? There’s a lot more information in the Mother Earth News story, but here’s the short version:

There are only 3 breeds of chickens that lay colored eggs and only two are actually recognized breeds; the Ameraucana and the Araucana. The third, known as the Easter Egger, is not a recognized breed, but rather a cross between any other chicken and either an Ameraucana or an Araucana. True Ameraucana & Araucana chickens are in fact not that common. Many people believe they may have one of these breeds, but it is more likely that most people have the Easter Egger. Araucanas originally came from Chile and were introduced to North America around 1921. They were standardized and accepted into the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1976. They do not do well in cold climates and are quite rare. Araucanas are rumpless (no or little tail feathers) and have ear tufts - feathers protruding from the ear area. They lay blue eggs only. The Ameraucana is not very common either. It is America’s most newly recognized APA breed. There has been much discrepancy over the years regarding origins, standards and such for these two breeds. APA created a standard and recognized the Ameraucana breed in 1984.

The characteristics to meet the APA standard for a true Ameraucana are as follows:
• Must be a blue egg layer; the shade of blue can vary, but it must be blue
• Must have a ‘pea’ comb, a small, plump red comb towards the front of head
• Must be bearded and muffed, but cannot have ear tufts
• Must have slate blue legs, although the black variety sometimes has black legs
• Males must have red ear lobes
• Cock weight is 6 ½ lbs. and hen weight is 5 ½ lbs
• There are 8 accepted colors: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, White

Other characteristics include curved beaks, large expressive eyes, absent or small wattles, full hackle, a well spread tail carried at an angle and 4 toes. Those characteristics apply to both males and females. The breed also comes in a recognized bantam variety.

We have been told by people who know about these things that our hens qualify on all those counts, so they probably are Ameraucanas. The breed standard doesn't say anything about being friendly, people-oriented and, in general, just big personalities. So if anyone comes up with a breed with those characteristics, we'll be happy to sign our chickens up!
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