Ameraucana Chicken

(All Other Standard Breeds class)

Prepared by Michael Schlumbohm and Keith Bramwell, Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Male Americana Chicken The Ameraucana is a lighter weight white-skinned breed known for laying green shelled eggs. Many hatcheries sell "Ameraucanas/Araucanas" or what they call "Easter Eggers". However, the majority of these chicks sold by hatcheries are not the true Ameraucana. Many of these hatchery birds have various colors with no set pattern, have incorrect shank color, may or may not have beards and muffs, and may or may not lay a green or blue egg. The true Ameraucana is recognized in eight established varieties; these include Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White all of which were recognized in 1984. True Ameraucanas also must have a full beard and muffs, a pea comb, have either slate or black shanks with white bottoms of the feet, and they must lay a green or blue shelled egg. The Ameraucana is often confused with the Aracauna, which originated in South America. The differences between these two breeds, when bred in standard form, are very obvious. The Araucana is rumpless, meaning it has no tail feathers or tail structure, and it has ear tufts as opposed to the beard and muffs of the Ameraucana and should always lay a blue shelled egg. In addition to this the Araucana is somewhat smaller, has yellow skin and the color of the shanks should be either, yellow, willow, or black depending on the variety. If one wants to raise true Ameraucanas he or she should go to a breeder to acquire them.

Standard Weights
Cock: 6.5 lbs.
Hen: 5.5 lbs.
Cockerel: 5.5 lbs.
Pullet: 4.5 lbs.

Type wise the Ameraucana is a pretty typically shaped dual purpose bird. The body is moderately long, deep and wide. The back is moderately long and the shoulders are carried slightly elevated. There is smooth transition at the junction of the back and tail and the tail itself is medium in length and well spread and carried at an angle of 45 degrees. The breast is prominent and well rounded. The most distinguishing feature of this breed is its head. The skull is relatively broad the comb is pea shaped and the wattles are hidden by the beard and virtually non-existent. There is one group of feathers located directly under the beak, this is referred to as the beard and should be large and full. The muffs are located on both sides of the beard and should also be very large and full. As stated before the shanks, feet, and toes should be slate or black, depending on the variety. The bottoms of the feet should be white. This is a very important point when evaluating and choosing Ameraucana breeders and show birds for breed preservation and or exhibition.

The History of the Ameraucana is certainly an interesting one and quite unlike any other breed of poultry that has been recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA). The history of the Ameraucana breed is closely linked to the Araucana breed; from this breed the Ameraucana has inherited the genes for blue egg color. Genetically speaking the green appearance of eggshells is the result of crossing birds with the blue egg gene with birds that have the brown egg genes, this is the reason that most Ameraucanas lay a green rather than a blue egg.

To briefly summarize, the Araucana came to the United States from the country of Chile around the year 1930. In their native land the local Indians kept them around for egg and meat production. These original Araucanas still resemble our Araucana today by having no tail, possessing ear tufts, and laying a blue egg. However, some of these early stocks produced bearded and tailed offspring as well. Naturally, these unique new birds caused quite a stir. Due to a new craze for blue egg laying birds many hatcheries began to cross them with other breeds (most likely brown egg breeds) in order to produce a higher volume of these birds. Yet, a few breeders preserved the original type of Araucana and their bearded, tailed off-shoots. Since before the 1960s, breeders were regularly producing both types. While some paying much attention to the bearded and tailed individuals. Due to lethal genes being associated with ear tufts, tufted individuals more or less weeded themselves out of those Araucana flocks. This splitting of the breed caused a lot of tension and disagreement between breeders of Araucana stocks. Despite this varied stock the Araucana breeders decided to propose to the APA a standard description and set up a qualifying meet. However, this first attempt failed due to poor uniformity among the breed. The APA then decided to set their own standard for the breed. Finally after much tension the Araucana breed was accepted in 1976 which required them all to be tufted and rumpless.

Female Americana Chicken This is where the Ameraucana history begins in earnest. Some breeders were naturally upset that the tailed version of the Araucana was not accepted. So an effort was made to get the bearded, tailed version accepted, however this movement failed. But breeders continued to show their birds as an American Araucana. Don Cable and Mike Gilbert were the main pioneers in this breed and both had worked heavily with the bantam version of the American Araucana and eventually the two formed a club in 1978. Through this club a fixed standard was voted on as well as a name change from American Araucana to simply Ameraucana. In 1983 at the APA/ABA joint national meet 75 Ameraucanas were exhibited. The American Bantam Association (ABA) immediately accepted all eight varieties to the Bantam Standard. However, the APA was not as quick in their response to accept or reject the Ameraucana. It wasn't for another year at the next APA national meet that the APA finally accepted all eight varieties in bantam and in large fowl. Accepting the large fowl was a somewhat strange move as the Ameraucana club only submitted the proposal to accept the bantam version. It turns out that another separate club was forming a standard for a large fowl version and acting on this proposal the APA accepted the Ameraucana large fowl in the same varieties as accepted in the bantam version of the breed.

From the time the Araucana and later the Ameraucana were introduced to the public they have attracted more attention from those who are interested in producing green shelled eggs rather than those who are interested in serious exhibition. After all, this is the main reason this breed was kept and bred and egg shell color has no bearing in exhibition poultry judging in the US. It therefore, makes sense that most of the Ameraucanas in this country are kept primarily for utility rather than for show purposes. This is not to say however, that there aren't any good show quality Ameraucanas, because they do exist and have been named class champions on numerous occasions. But these birds are seen less often than those just kept for egg production. Unfortunately, most "Ameraucanas" that are found in yards and at fairs are merely "Easter Eggers". More awareness needs to spread about the fact that these are not true purebred birds in any sense and it would be nice for more people to keep, breed, and show the true Ameraucana.

Bantam Ameraucana
(All Other Comb Clean Legged class)

Both the APA and ABA recognize the bantam Ameraucana. The bantam version was created in the United States. Shape and color requirements are similar to the large fowl, for a full shape description consult the APA and or ABA standards. The APA and ABA recognize the following varieties: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White.

Standard Weights
Cock: 30 oz.
Hen: 26 oz.
Cockerel: 26 oz.
Pullet: 24 oz.

Works Cited
The American Standard of Perfection Illustrated: A Complete Description of All Recognized Breeds and Varieties of Domestic Poultry. Burgettstown, PA: American Poultry Association, 2010.
"Ameraucana History." ameraucana.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
Bantam Standard for the Breeder, Exhibitor, and Judge. 2011 ed. Kansas City: Covington Group, 2011.