The Ameraucana is a most unique chicken among its peers.
It is a fairly recent addition to the chicken breeds making its’ debut in the 1970s. It has a staunch band of breeders and followers in this country and many others and is slowly gathering more folks who are becoming devoted followers.
The history of the Ameraucana is a bit convoluted as we shall see.
In this article we will explore the Ameraucana’s temperament, egg laying, color varieties and more.
Ameraucana Appearance and Temperament
The coloring of the Ameraucana is quite variable, with several color palettes to choose from – anywhere from black to white, blue to wheaten. The variety of colors available makes this a very pretty bird.
It is considered a winter hardy, dual purpose breed.
The beard and muffs give the bird a somewhat ‘chipmunk face’, looking like their cheeks are puffed out!
With the eyes being bay red, they can look a bit fierce, but they are quite a docile bird, the look is deceiving.
In reading reviews for the temperament of this bird I noticed a wide variety of behaviors. Whether or not this reflects upbringing or other circumstances is hard to determine. Its temperament has been noted as anywhere from skittish to docile and gentle. It is generally a friendly bird but doesn’t necessarily enjoy being picked up and cuddled.
The Ameraucana is usually sociable with its’ own kind and usually sits in the middle of the pecking order, it also enjoys human contact and interactions, most folks say it is a very smart and predator savvy bird.
The Ameraucana is said to have a hawk-like appearance and some enthusiasts appreciate this quality for free-range flocks. It is thought that the mimicry deters attacks from actual hawks or other animals. The laser-focus of their bay red eyes only adds to this theory.
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The Ameraucana was accepted to the American Poultry Association in 1984. There is also a bantam Ameraucana which was accepted by the American Bantam Association in 1979.
The Ameraucana has a pea comb which is red as are the wattles. Wattles are on the small side or can be non-existent.
Eyes are a reddish bay color.
Ameraucanas have both beards and muffs. It can be difficult to differentiate between the muffs and beard, but on close inspection it should be clearer to see.
The tail should be carried upright almost at 45 degrees to the body.
Depending on the color of the plumage, the legs and feet should be slate blue to black. There should be four toes on each foot and the shanks should be clean of feathering. The skin on the bottom of the foot is white, as is the skin of the bird.
There are eight recognized colors for the Ameraucana:
- Blue wheaten
- Brown red
The Ameraucana is considered a light fowl and weights should be around 6.5lb for males and 5.5lb for females.
Bantams should weigh in at 26-30oz. for males and 24-26oz. for females.
Egg Laying and Broodiness
The Ameraucana is beloved for its’ light blue eggs. It is a moderately good layer, producing about 3–4 medium sized eggs/week. It can be a bit of a late starter, so don’t expect your eggs at 18-20 weeks. Some folks reported they had waited 5-7 months before any eggs appeared.
In past times blue eggs have been promoted as having less cholesterol and more protein. This was simply a market ploy to get people interested in blue eggs. It may seem strange now, but blue eggs were not always popular.
The eggs have exactly the same nutritional value as a green, brown, pink or white egg.
Ameraucanas are non-broody for the most part. Occasionally one will go broody, but it is not a regular occurrence.
The Ameraucana does not have any significant health issues unlike its parent the Araucana.
They will live around 7-8 years on average.
And due to their predator-savvy abilities, they tend to outlast other breeds in their flock. They are fantastic foragers and smart about their enemies, another feather in their caps.
Background and History of the Ameraucana
The recent history behind this breed extends back into the 1920s’ and to South America – Chile to be specific.
The Mapuche Indians originally had two types of chickens – the Collonca and Quetero. These breeds were very old even to the Indians and were first noted and written about by the Spanish invaders back in the 1500s.
The two breeds were bred together either naturally or by human intervention – no one knows – and from this union came the Araucana. The Araucana is a parent bird of the Ameraucana chicken.
The Araucana chicken was (and is) a very rare bird. The genetic make-up of this bird is such that that it carries a lethal gene which can kill chicks in the shell. The lethal gene gives the Araucana its’ unique tufted ears. If both parents contribute a tufting gene (ET) – the chicks will die in the shell.
Ameraucanas were bred to retain the blue egg gene but eliminate the lethal gene of its parents.
The Araucana was brought to the US in limited quantities in the 1920s following the presentation of the bird by Professor Salvador Castillo at a conference in Santiago, Chile.
One of the folks instrumental in raising Araucanas and eventually ‘creating’ the Ameraucana was Mr. Keller of the Pratt Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania.
He cross bred the Araucanas with other birds resulting in a mélange of different birds – some with ear tufts, some with muffs and beards, some rumpless, some with full tails etc. – all were called Araucanas.
Interestingly, in the UK, Australia and many other countries, both Araucanas and Ameraucanas are accepted as the same breed, whether they are rumpless or tailed.
Is the Ameraucana Right for You?
These birds are considered to be docile and people friendly. They are quite hardy -although some people say they don’t tolerate very cold climates. They seem to tolerate NY winters fairly well as long as they have dry and draft proof accommodations.
They will bear confinement but don’t do it well. They are a fairly independent bird so do love to free range if they can.
A huge plus for many folks is that they lay a moderate to good amount of light blue eggs. It seems blue eggs are becoming ‘a thing’ in many supermarkets where they are selling for a not insignificant amount!
As with most roosters, they can get a bit cranky at times, but they are not overly aggressive that I have found during research.
Others have reported that their Ameraucanas struggle to handle highly humid and hot environments. The differing experiences may have a lot to do with the colorful lineage of the bird in question.
Many hatchery and other breeders offer birds labelled as Americana or Americauna. These are not Ameraucanas – note the spelling…
It has been used as a marketing ploy for many years now. What they are selling is in fact Easter Eggers – which is not a pure breed at all. An Easter Egger is a hybrid and while there is nothing wrong with Easter Eggers you should know the difference – because many private ‘breeders’ apparently don’t.
A telltale sign in some of the hatchery catalogs is if the birds are advertised as ‘recommended for laying or not for exhibition or 4H use’.
Ameraucanas are still relatively rare birds, so if you are paying $5-10.00 for a bird it is very likely not a pure breed. True, pure Ameraucanas sell for around $20.00 for a hen and $18.00 for a rooster.
The Easter Egger is a hybrid of either the Ameraucana or the Araucana and another breed of chicken. On the other hand, the Ameraucana and Araucana are considered to be pure breeds.
Like the Araucana and Ameraucana, the Easter Egger may also lay blue eggs, have muffs, or even beards.
The Ameraucana is still considered to be a rare breed here in the US. If you can afford the outlay to get some of these lovely birds they are well worth the money.
As we mentioned, in Australia, UK and many other countries the Araucana and Ameraucana are considered the same breed, so it can get a bit confusing!
The Ameraucana is certainly a pretty addition to your flock – both in plumage and colored egg laying.
Do you have Ameraucanas? Let us know in the comments section below…