Andalusian Chicken

(Mediterranean class)

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

Male Andalusian Chicken The Andalusian is a non-sitting egg laying breed that lays a white egg and has white skin. It is only recognized in Blue and it was admitted to the American Poultry Associations (APA) Standard of Perfection in 1874.

Standard Weights
Cock: 7 lbs.
Hen: 5.5 lbs.
Cockerel: 6 lbs.
Pullet: 4.5 lbs.

In size and type the Andalusian is intermediate in stature between the Leghorn and Minorca breeds. Andalusians are a larger framed somewhat angular bird. The comb is single and the earlobes are medium sized and white. This single comb should lop over to one side on mature females, while standing erect on males. The back is long and moderately broad and it slopes from the shoulders to the tail. There is moderate break at the junction of the tail and back with the tail being long, well spread, and carried at an angle of 30-40 degrees. The breast and body are well rounded and carried rather high in front with the legs being rather long.

The color of a well-bred Andalusian is very striking and also difficult to breed. The ground color is a slaty blue with each feather laced in darker blue approaching black. The comb and wattles are bright red and the shanks and toes are dark blue, the bottoms of the feet should be white.

The name Andalusian is a bit of a misnomer. In 1879 Harrison Weir visited the southern part of Spain, where the district of Andalusia is located, and inquired about the Blue Andalusian chicken. To his surprise the bird he was looking for was mostly unknown. So it is assumed that this breed has no special connection to Andalusia Spain. However, there are two other accounts that blue colored chickens were found in other parts of Spain. Granted it is not uncommon to find blue colored birds in mixed flocks where both black and white birds are found, so it is still not out of the question that the original "Andalusian" came from Spain. Most likely, the breed was first exported to England via Cadiz, which is in the province of Andalusia. This gave the English breeders the idea that they were common in Andalusia.

Mr. John Taylor, who later became well known for his Andalusians, imported the first Blue Andalusians from Spain to England in 1851, where only white "Spanish" had been previously known in England. These blue birds were incidentally very difficult to find. Of the 12 birds that he bought only three were representative of a pure Andalusian. He then crossed these birds with his original stock and this was the foundation of the Andalusian breed in England. However, not all blue "Spanish type" chickens descended from this cross.

The chickens called Andalusians in the middle of the 19th century were generally described as "gray" in color, and were considered a variety of Spanish. In England blue chickens were also obtained from crosses of Black and White Minorcas and in some parts of England the Andalusian was called the Blue Minorca. The reason for calling them Minorcas comes from a similarity in shape and accounts of pure Minorcas occasionally throwing white and blue offspring. In addition to using Minorcas to produce blue chickens the Spanish breed was also used. There is one account of a breeder crossing a white Andalusian and a Black Spanish and the resulting offspring were described as a "pigeon blue". There must have also been some confusion between the Minorca, Andalusian, and Spanish, and the names were probably interchanged between the three breeds so it is sometimes unclear as to which one is actually being discussed. Later when the breed became more established, it is likely that any blue chicken could have been called an Andalusian. Over time though the Andalusian was bred as a unique breed and it eventually developed characteristics that made it readily distinguishable from Minorcas and Spanish. The first Andalusians were shown in America around 1850-55. However, it is not known exactly when they were first brought here, or whether those first birds were imported under that name. Much like in England, these first Andalusians shown in the United States could have been "made" from crosses of Black and White Spanish, or Black and White Leghorns, or they may have only been called Andalusians because they matched a description of birds called Andalusians by English authors, but no one knows for sure. What is known though is that in later times Andalusians were both imported and "made in America" and more than likely the Minorcas and Spanish were used to cross on Andalusians to increase numbers and to "make" an Andalusian. Eventually though a unique standard shape and color was identified and applied to all Andalusians.

The Andalusian is an excellent egg producer of large white eggs. At one time they were believed to be better layers than either Spanish or Minorcas. There are some old records from the 1890's of Andalusians laying up to 230 eggs a year, with the egg weights reaching up to 30 ounces per dozen. And thanks to their larger size the extra cockerels were also somewhat valued as a meat bird. As far as temperament, Andalusians are somewhat active and consequently are good foragers.

The breed would be decidedly more popular were it not for the instability of the blue color. Because of this tendency, interest in Andalusians is largely among fanciers to whom the blue color is so attractive that they prize the breed in spite of the large production of off-colored specimens. The standard color requirements originally called for an even shade of blue, but the tendency to a darker lacing on each feather was so persistent that lacing was made a requirement.

One of the reasons that the Andalusian is difficult to breed is because of the genetics of the blue color. When two blue birds are mated together approximately half of the offspring will be blue, with approximately one quarter black and another quarter "splash". Splash refers to a bird that is mostly white with a lot of gray or black markings randomly scattered throughout the plumage. Often time's breeders will use a black mated to blue to try and get the lacing back or to darken the shade of blue. Likewise a splash could be used to lighten the ground color; however, not many breeders do this. When breeding Andalusians, or any blue variety, a lot of birds must be raised to produce a sufficient number of offspring in order to get a few good blue colored birds. For this reason, this breed is not suited to someone who doesn't like to cull or who doesn't have the facilities or means to hatch and raise a lot of chicks.

Bantam Andalusian
(Single Comb Clean Legged class)

Both the APA and American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize the bantam Andalusian and, like the large fowl, they are only recognized in Blue. Shape and color requirements are exactly the same as for large fowl. The bantam sized Andalusian is believed to have originated in England.

Standard Weights:
Cock: 28 oz.
Hen: 26 oz.
Cockerel: 26 oz.
Pullet: 24 oz.

Works Cited
Robinson, John H. Popular Breeds of Domestic Poultry. Dayton: Reliable Poultry Journal, 1924.
Brown, Edward. Races of Domestic Poultry. Liss: Nimrod Book Services, 1985.
The American Standard of Perfection Illustrated: A Complete Description of All Recognized Breeds and Varieties of Domestic Poultry. Burgettstown, PA: American Poultry Association, 2010.
Bantam Standard for the Breeder, Exhibitor, and Judge. 2011 ed. Kansas City: Covington Group, 2011.