Ameraucana, Araucana, and Easter Egg Chickens
Many hatcheries sell ‘Ameraucana’ chickens or various misspellings of this name. There is a considerable amount of confusion about this ‘breed’ of chicken. The terms Ameraucana, Easter Egger, and Araucana are often used interchangeably despite the fact that they are not one and the same.
To add to the confusion, most hatcheries listing Ameraucana and Araucanas are actually selling mixed breed chicks that do not meet the specifications for either. These mixed breeds are what we call ‘Easter Eggers’ or ‘Easter Egg chickens.’ All of these chickens produce eggs with colorful shells (well, except for the roosters, of course). They come in shades of green, blue, tan, pinkish, brown, buff, and white…hence the name ‘Easter Eggers.’
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True Auraucanas are ‘rumpless’ – having no tail or tail feathers. They also must have pea combs and ear tufts (small feathers growing from the flap of skin next to their ear hole). These ear tufts are specific to the breed raised in the United States. The genetic makeup that results in these tufts also causes a very high mortality rate in the offspring of two genetically pure Araucanas. Because of this, purebred chicks are extremely rare and costly, if available at all.
These birds on the other hand, have no ear tufts. Instead, they have a beard and muff. These are fluffy feathers around their chin and their ears, but not growing from the flap of skin behind the ear. Ameraucanas also have a pea comb. They come in a variety of colors, lay colorful eggs, and are very easy care birds, making them a great addition to the home flock.
Easter Eggers may be a mix of either of these breeds along with any other breed. They may or may not have a pea comb, beard, and muff. Some will lay eggs in beautiful shades of green and ‘blue’ or they may lay eggs in the more common shades of brown, white and tan. The birds themselves may be almost any color, but they all seem to have quiet, easy care temperaments. Chances are, if you order either Ameraucanas or Araucanas, you are actually ending up with Easter Eggers.
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If you aren’t planning to show or breed your flock, Easter Eggers will do just fine. Expect 3 or so eggs a week each from hens in good laying condition. They don’t tend to go broody, which is good if you just want eggs. I have found my Easter Eggers to be very easy care, shy, and docile birds…and I love the colors of their eggs!
Easter Egger Customers Love the Fun Colors!
I have a number of egg customers who really enjoy getting a green egg or two in their cartons each week. There have also been people who got one dozen from me and then didn’t want any more. I suspect that they thought the green eggs went bad and threw them out. If you are planning to sell eggs from your home flock, you may want to check with your potential customers to be sure that they understand that there is nothing wrong with your green eggs. Sometimes it just takes a bit of education to turn them into loyal customers.
Adding Easter Egger Chickens to Your Flock?
Another thing to consider when choosing breeds of layers is how many eggs to expect from each hen per week. Easter Eggers are not a highly productive breed, but what they lack in laying propensity, they make up for in character and conversation starters. They are also active foragers and like to spend much of their day scratching up their own grub. I have several Easter Eggers in my flock, including my rooster Brutus. He tried, unsuccessfully, to chase off a fox last fall and lost half his tail feathers in the process. Now that’s a plucky rooster!
Have you ever raised any of these breeds of chickens? I’d love to hear about your experiences!