Friday, July 3, 2009

The Americana, Ameraucana, Araucana backyard chicken confusion



Trio of Ameraucana hens. Photo: Steven Walling



I'm stumped when my backyard-chicken-tending friends tell me they have Ameraucanas.

Thanks to Martha Stewart, everyone knows that Araucana chickens lay blue-shelled eggs; and again, thanks to Martha's commercial zeal, many living rooms are painted that blue color--giving new meaning to the paint term "eggshell finish".

With the word "Americana" on all our lips this Independence Day weekend, and the possibility of social gaffes looming when the party conversation turns, as it inevitably does, to poultry, here's the difference between Ameraucanas and Araucanas.

  • The breeds evolved separately and both come in lots of colors, so you can't tell by the feathers.
  • Ameraucanas have tails.
  • Araucanas have ear tufts.
  • Both breeds lay blue eggs, have pea combs and red earlobes.

You didn't know that chickens had earlobes until just now, did you?

Here's the tricky part. Ameraucanas are very rare:

  • If the hen lays blue eggs and the owner says it's an Ameraucana, odds are it's actually a mixed-breed hen in the catch-all category of Easter Egger. A real Ameraucana has slate-blue legs.

But don't bring that up, unless you want to ruin the Fourth of July party.



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16 comments:

Tessa at Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots said...

Learn something new every day! Hmmm, blue eggs...I wonder if they'd taste different to us knowing the shell is blue? I've been crazy busy lately, but I thought I'd pop in and say hi! I hope you have a great 4th, my friend!

Janet said...

I am confused....to me they are all chickens.

Daffodil Planter said...

Tessa, Happy Fourth to you too! With the blue eggshells it's Easter every day.

Janet, I fear you and I will never be judges at poultry shows ;-)

joyce in sf said...

An advantage to city living is that the subject of chicken breeds rarely comes up in conversation . . .

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Are there any that lay eggs with red shells? It'd be perfect for today;-) What interesting and confusing (!) info! Have a happy 4th, DP!

Daffodil Planter said...

Joyce in SF, And more's the pity. You could be astonishing your friends with your award-winning knowledge of Buff Cochins, and now the Ameraucanas. I predict that sometime in the next year you will hear the cackle of hens in your neighborhood, and then your poultry expertise will come in handy.

Daffodil Planter said...

Jan, I'll look into that red shell question!

Susan_Morrison said...

I'm going to my Master Gardener ice cream social in a few weeks, and the MG that hosts it is a serious chicken person (raiser? collector? farmer? Not sure what the right noun is.)

In any case, this post is timely as I can photocopy for use as cliff notes and sound much more knowledgeable than last year, where my questions were along the lines of "What's that cute brown one named?"

Daffodil Planter said...

Susan, Depending on how far into PETA she is, your friend may be a chicken guardian. Can we glean any clues in advance on what breeds she keeps? Get ready to dazzle.

Wayne Stratz said...

glad I read this after the 4th, or surely I would have ruined a party or two. If folk are lucky I may forget before Labor Day

susie said...

Love your blog.....want chickens badly....but I now I want a turkey too!

Joy! said...

I have a chicken and now I am unsure what she is.... can I email you a photo?

Daffodil Planter said...

Wayne, Labor Day is upon us, so I'll be curious to hear how about your party poultry patter.

Welcome Susie! Chickens, turkeys--and ducks?

Welcome Joy! I'd love to look at your chicken. My email is written out in the About Me section in the sidebar.

Anonymous said...

Just came upon your site and its wonderful,
containes all the things Iam interested in. plants, chickens,and interesting questions and answers. oh and the chickens are my passion.
I am a Byc(Backyard chickens)member.

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome Anon! Glad to have another chicken fancier in our midst.

KF4AWU said...

I have an Americana they are bearded and lay a green egg, hence they are also an Easter Egger.