Keeping chickens can be a fun way to have some small farm animals without a huge amount of work. Chickens are surprisingly personable and display unique and interesting personalities to their caretakers who take the time to get to know them as individuals. Learn how to care for them so that both you and your chickens will do well.
History of Ameraucana
The Ameraucana chicken is a relatively new breed that was developed in the 1970s. They were accepted by the American Poultry Association (APA) as a distinct breed in 1984.
While some people think that the Araucana chicken and the Ameraucana chicken are the same breeds and that they are nicknamed the “Easter Egg Chicken” or “Easter Eggers,” these are three different kinds of birds.
Although it’s not entirely clear as to which of these three came first, it is likely that the Easter Egg chicken showed up first. These birds carry the gene for blue eggs but can lay eggs of any color, including white, brown, green, blue, and pink.
The many different egg colors actually result from the fact that the Easter Egg chicken is of uncertain ancestry. These carry the genes for laying some or all of these different colored eggs.
A true Ameraucana chicken was originally bred from the Easter Egger chicken but was selected for very specific characteristics. One of the most important of these is the ability to lay blue eggs.
While this characteristic continues to be worked on by dedicated breeders to produce a pure blue shell, as a general rule all Ameraucanas lay only blue eggs. If you want a backyard flock it may not matter to you if you have Araucanas, Ameraucanas, or Easter Eggers.
However, if you fall in love with your chickens and decide you want to show them, you may be in for a big disappointment if yours are not purebred. Mixed breed chickens will be disqualified from the show ring no matter how nice they are. They must meet the breed standard before they can be shown.
Ameraucana Breed Standard
Ameraucanas must have certain characteristics if they are to be accepted as purebred representatives of the breed. They must be one of the acceptable colors for the breed. These colors are:
- Blue Wheaten
They must also possess certain other traits, including:
- Possessing a full tail instead of being rumpless
- A pea comb
- Muffs on both sides of the face, which are feathery puffs that nearly hide the face
- Curved beak
- Small or absent wattles
- Small earlobes
- Expressive eyes
- Fairly large wings
Note that, as with many breeds of chickens, Ameraucanas come in both a full-sized version, what might be thought of as a “regular-sized” chicken, and a bantam variety, which is a smaller version of the same thing. The breed description for both types is the same, except for the size distinction.
The weight of a chicken is a part of its classification. A bantam chicken must weigh in at between 1.625 and 1.875 pounds for males and 1.5 and 1.625 pounds for females. A full-sized chicken must weigh between 5.5 and 6.5 pounds for males and 4.5 and 5.5 pounds for females.
The specific weight depends on the age and classification of the chicken. Any Ameraucana chicken that is more than 20% outside of its allowable weight limits will be disqualified.
Personality and Temperament of Ameraucana
The typical Ameraucana chicken is calm and docile. While they can get excited if there is a reason to do so, they are not anxious or excitable by nature. This makes them the ideal chicken for a first flock, especially for a child or someone who has concerns about being able to take care of their chickens.
An Ameraucana chicken is curious and bright, making it enjoyable to have around. This chicken has also been described by many as being adaptable and entertaining. These birds fit in well most places, as long as they are kept safe and their basic needs are met.
Hens do not usually go broody, so they don’t usually spend a lot of time sitting on eggs and waiting for them to hatch. However, if an Ameraucana chicken does turn broody and manages to hatch out a few chicks, it’s likely that her stable temperament will help her be a great mother.
If a rooster is kept with the flock, this calmness is of special importance because many breeds of roosters can become very aggressive. A large, hostile rooster can even be dangerous to a small child. The quiet disposition of the Ameraucana means that problems related to behavior issues are unlikely to occur.
Ameraucana Egg Laying
Ameraucana chickens are reliable egg layers that can be depended on to lay well throughout much of the year. While they do not lay as many eggs as some breeds that have been bred solely for egg production, they do produce consistently.
The typical Ameraucana chicken lays about 150 eggs per year. These eggs tend to be uniformly large and consistent in size. They are all blue. If a chicken produces other colors of eggs, it is not a purebred Ameraucana chicken.
Most chickens lay eggs throughout the warmer weather, where the days are relatively long, but they begin to drop off in production as the weather changes and the days begin to shorten. To keep chickens laying all year, provide them with ample food and a light source.
They will still stop laying when they molt, but the extra care will result in many more eggs over time. When the blue eggs from the original Easter Egger chickens arrived on the scene, people touted them as being more healthful than other eggs.
They claimed these eggs were lower in cholesterol and had a higher nutritional value than other colored eggs. Despite the fact that these claims have been proven false, many people still believe blue eggs are superior.
How To Take Care of Ameraucana
The Ameraucana chicken is generally a healthy chicken with no major health concerns related to the breed. This is quite unlike the Araucana chicken, a breed that is often confused with the Ameraucana.
Araucana chickens carry a gene that is linked to the tufting gene of this breed’s ears. While these tufts give the breed an appearance similar to the Ameraucana, it is not the same. In the Araucana, the tufting gene is linked to a fatal flaw, and if two parents pass the gene on to their offspring the babies will die before ever being able to hatch from their shells.
Despite the similarities in appearance and names, the Ameraucana chicken does not carry this gene. Owners who want to breed their chickens don’t have to worry about this horrible condition killing any babies before they can hatch.
Ameraucanas are considered winter hardy, which means they can handle the cold quite well. They do need protection from extreme cold and from drafts. They must also have access to water at all times, and they must receive an adequate amount of feed to support them through bad weather.
They should be kept in clean quarters with no buildup of manure or shed feathers, and perches should be provided to allow them to roost.
5 Tips for Raising Ameraucana Chickens
- Since these chickens are not usually broody, it’s best to start raising them with either young chicks from a commercial hatchery or young adult birds purchased locally. If you buy them locally, you’re more likely to be able to get help if you need it.
- Give your chickens a good shelter. They need something that will protect them in all kinds of weather. You also want a shelter that is made for you to be able to easily reach in and gather the eggs every day. It’s much nicer if you don’t have to go inside the shelter every time you want to collect eggs.
- Provide the chickens with room to roam. Since they may range far afield if allowed to, it’s usually best to confine Ameraucanas to a large pen that provides protection from predators while still allowing them plenty of space.
- Make sure your chickens can get back into their shelter every night. If your Ameraucana chickens are used to their shelter, they will return to it every night on their own. All you need to do is to lock them in to protect them from predators.
- Feed your Ameraucana chickens a good-quality commercial feed every day. Such feed has everything they need in it to keep them healthy. It also has what they need to allow them to lay eggs when they are old enough to do so. Also, keep water available at all times. In freezing weather, a water heater can help.
The Ameraucana chicken is an excellent breed for a home flock. These birds are typically hardy and adaptable, and they tend to be calm in most situations. They are also a fun breed to raise, as not only are the chickens enjoyable as pets, they also produce blue eggs that can be eaten or sold and that make for interesting conversation.