The Araucana : Pure breed chicken, originally from Chile, South America. The print to the right is from the 1920's
This breeds distinguishing features include Blue eggs, the colour permeating through to the inside of the shell, unlike all other egg colouring; Remarkable feathering around the face : Muffs, tufts, beard, ears; Rumplessness
The Araucana is an unusual bird with an, as yet, undetermined path of movement around the world. There are many tall tales. We have been collating social and industrial history that might give some answers how they came to Northern Europe.
Egg colour :This is the only breed which should carry the blue egg gene alone, it was used in the creation of the Cream Legbar to give that breed its blue tinted egg.
Unfortunately the genetics are no longer as pure as they would have been in the early 1900's, which means that most birds will lay a wide variety of shades from greyish blue, through green into khaki and olive. As breeders over the decades have introduce new feather colouring to the breed, as well as altering other features, so the blood lines introduced from other breeds to achieve their end goal have caused the contamination of the egg colour genetics. Examples include using Marans to 'improve' the cuckoo barring, the mix of blue and dark brown eggs gives the dirty khaki coloured eggs.
Sadly the rapid rise in poultry keeping in recent years has not been matched with the knowledge on good breeding and selection, so the few remaining strains of good laying birds are being swamped by inferior stocks, or worse, simply unrecorded, unselected stocks
There is now a colour chart to be able to compare and define the colour of your birds eggs, these are given out with membership of the Araucana club, just one good reason to join. Members also get a list of breeders and very high quality newsletters. Well worth the membership fees.
This chart is also available on Ebay direct from the gentleman who spent several years, painstakingly collected chips of eggs from birds all over the world. If you have any interest in Araucanas this chart is a must buy so you can assess your own birds and compare with other breeders when adding new stocks to your flock.
Origin : Arauca Indians of Northern Chile - Blue and green eggs have been reported from South America from the mid-sixteenth century onwards. The movement of birds around the world is a subject of a number of Sensational Tales over the past 100 or more years, the more likely facts are bound to be more prosaic.
I am gathering some notes about the more likely history as time permits
Rumpless : The Americans have different standards for the Araucana : They define their true Araucana as being rumpless - that is they have no tail, no parsons nose. In most of the rest of the world, including the UK, both the tailed and rumpless are accepted as pure as reflects the variety of stock found in Chile, their place of origin.
The American hatcheries also produce the Ameraucana, which are mostly mongrels, but there are now moves to standardise some colours and they are getting recognition as true breeding lines over there. There are likely to be birds offered over here which will be mongrels rather than anything recognised. The blue tint is so popular that demand for birds outstrips supply, which means that some breeders with less integrity are cashing in on it.
Facial feathering :
Pea comb :
Utility Qualities : - A laying flock of Araucanas will not produce as many eggs as other productive hens, and an flock selected for exhibition qualities can be really disappointing, but with good presentation and marketing the eggs should command a premium price. The blue egg is a rare and prized commodity, unfortunately contaminated colours are also sufficiently novel for so many breeders not to be critical what their birds produce. There is a terrible amount of dumbing down of all breedstocks in the UK nowadays and very low standards to be considered acceptable. Demand outstrips supply, and so people will pay good money for poor standard birds, so perpetuating more of these being produced. If we are not to lose the few remaining decent strains its up to each buyer to question the breeder how they selected the parents and the eggs to hatch. Many have simply bought a few eggs from Ebay from unknown breeders, around the country, and are selling on the eggs or youngstock without knowing anything of the parents or the hatched generation.
There are records from the 1920's to 1950's of Araucana's being able to lay around 240 eggs a year but the days of birds like these are long gone, and, while poultry keeping is fashionable without any principles being applied to the selection of each generation, they are not likely to be seen in the near future. A proven 180 - 200 a year would be a good aim at this stage - this is now woefully rare, as are any keepers or breeders who record the eggs laid of their birds, to be able to assess their birds quality.
If you are wanting good blue egg layers be careful about where you get birds - if you can incubate hatching eggs - that way you know they are from blue egg parents, but ensure you are confident of the quality of the parents, the high demand for araucanas in the past few years has lead to the decline in the breed. Too many breeders do not care about faults of the comb, of the facial feathers, and such, and have bred from faulted birds perpetuating the errors. If you can, visit the breeder before hand and see the birds and egg colour yourself. When buying youngstock always travel to the breeder, never rely on third party dealers or someone dropping birds off to you.
You may find help Finding Breeders here.
Tim and Jill Bowis
Kintaline Mill Farm,
Benderloch, OBAN Argyll PA37 1QS Scotland all text and images are copyright, do not use without express permission and links back to this site. Website online : 1999-2015 Contact Us ~ ~ About Us
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