The bearded chicken that lays true blue eggs is the one and only Ameraucana, a wonderful potential addition to the backyard flock.
Not to be confused with Araucanas, the Ameraucana chicken is hardy yet friendly and considered to be America’s pride.
In our ultimate guide to owning an Ameraucana chicken, we look at the breed types, temperament, egg laying, and what you should know about raising a healthy chicken in an urban backyard.
Are There Similarities to Other Chicken Breeds?
The history of Ameraucanas has been scrutinized for many years and of all the breeds of chicken, their development might just be the most complex.
Some believe the domestic fowl’s origins are from South America, while others claim that they come from Asia.
By breeding the Araucana from Chile with local domestic fowl, Ameraucanas were born and became popular in the United States in the 1970s.
At first, the new generations of chickens included a bearded or sometimes rumpless appearance and laid blue eggs.
Through careful selection, the American breed of chicken was refined to produce blue eggs, but without the allele gene of the parents that were lethal to offspring. Ameraucanas were also bred to display full tails that stood at a 40 to 45-degree angle.
The ABA set distinct standards to distinguish this breed from Araucana chickens over time.
Ameraucana is a relatively new breed, and the Ameraucanas Breeders Club established the Ameraucana breed standard in 1979. At this time, many breeders pushed for the name ‘American Araucana’ but the name ‘Ameraucana’ was accepted based on color variety, pale shanks, and the weight for this category of fowl.
FUN FACTThe origins of Ameraucanas can be traced back to the 1500s, when two ancient types of fowl, the Collonca and Quintero, were bred by the Mapuche Indians to produce the Araucana chicken, the parent fowl.
It was the name Ameraucana that won and later, generations of birds were bred to the proposed breed conformation. In 1980, the name for this chicken breed became official, and in 1981 the ABA bantam standard for the Bantam Ameraucana was also registered.
Today, America is the only country that recognizes the Ameraucanas as independent of the Araucanas.
Other countries including Australia and the UK consider the Araucana and Ameraucana to be within the same breed, whether rumpless or tailed.
While it may be a little confusing to tell the difference between Ameraucanas and Araucanas at first, we can take a much closer look at the general appearance of the breed and acceptable standards of conformation to help identify each type of chicken.
Size and Weight
Ameraucanas are medium-sized or standard chickens that tend to get along well with their flock mates.
The roosters can weigh between 6.5 and 7 lbs, and hens weigh 5.5 lbs. Standard Ameraucanas can reach up to 18 inches in height while bantams stay small.
Bantam Ameraucana hens weigh 1.5 to 1.6 lbs while cockerels weigh 1.6 to 1.875 lbs.
If you want to show your Ameraucana, your chickens will have to remain within the weight limits. If the weight is 10 to 20 lbs over the limit, chickens will be disqualified.
The Ameraucana is available in several recognized colors, including red, buff, silver, wheaten, blue wheaten, brown, red. The blue, wheaten, brown, red, and silver varieties are in high demand because you may not find these types in standard chicken breeds.
The red buff, silver, wheaten, white, and blue wheaten are scarce among hatcheries but some true breeders continue to produce these outstanding yet rare shades.
True Ameraucanas bred according to professional standards should not have any white tips on the wings or tail as this is considered a deviation from the breed standard.
The color varieties should be solid, particularly in the red, blue, and buff types or they will be disqualified in the show ring.
Regardless of the plumage, when these chickens are purebred they will produce an exotic color variety of eggs.
What Do Ameraucana Chickens Look Like?
I would love to add an Ameraucana to my backyard flock because of their incredible appearance! These chickens have a pea comb and four toes, but what makes them so unique and absolutely adorable are their muffs and full beard surrounding their face.
According to APA standards, Ameraucanas must have beards and muffs but the absence of ear tufts. Because of their dense and fluffy feathering, they should also do well in cold climates. However, you should make sure they’re protected from extreme weather conditions.
The APA requires that Ameraucanas have a slate blue skin color and leg color with small to absent wattles in both hens and roosters.
The ear lobes should be red in roosters and light or cherry red in hens. The tail should be full and well spread with a full, tucked body, but their most distinguishing features will be their muffs and beards.
How to Sex Ameraucana Chickens
You can tell whether an Ameraucana chicken is male or female by looking at the hackle and saddle feathers.
The rooster will have pointed hackles and long, thin sickle feathers near the base of the tail (the saddle). Conversely, the hen has rounded hackle feathers and the absence of sickle feathers.
The roosters also have long feathers in their tails with tall, strong, and confident strides compared to the shorter legs of the hens. Males over the age of 6 weeks also tend to have larger combs and wattles compared to the hens.
Ameraucana baby chicks are hard to sex when they are hatchlings. By 10 weeks of age, you should see differences in size, feather development, and face trimmings to help you discern the males from the females.
Ameraucanas Versus Easter Eggers
Some people confuse the Ameraucana with the Easter Egger (Olive egger) because both have feathery face trimmings, a pea comb, and they both lay uniquely colored eggs.
The difference is that the Easter Eggers are not a pure breed, and are often sold by hatcheries as “not for exhibition.” This means that they cannot be shown professionally.
An Easter Egg chicken can look similar to an Ameraucana; however, they come in a range of colors and patterns, are hybrid chickens, and are not registered with the American Poultry Association.
Easter Egger Eggs
The Easter Egger also doesn’t lay true blue eggs but rather green, pink, olive, and shades of blue. Some have a full muff and beard while others have just ear tufts. They are still great chickens, and one of the hardy breeds that are good if you’re a backyard chicken keeper.
If you are looking for Ameraucanas, take the time to compare the APA’s listed traits to the chickens from the hatchery of interest. Don’t fall into the trap of buying Easter Eggers instead of an Ameraucana chicken.
How Many Eggs Do Ameraucana Chickens Lay?
The Ameraucana is described as a moderate egg layer, producing 3 to 4 eggs every week.
If you are looking for a prolific egg layer to add to your flock, you might want to check some other breeds like the Rhode Island Red, which may be a better choice. Rhode Island Reds can lay eggs up to 6 a week and produce a brown egg.
What Color Eggs Do Ameraucanas Lay?
If you’d rather have colorful eggs that look like they’ve been candy-coated, then the Ameraucana is your best bet! These chickens lay light blue eggs and were originally bred for their blue egg laying abilities.
A purebred Ameraucana will always lay blue eggs while Easter Eggers lay different egg colors.
Why Do Ameraucanas Lay Blue Eggs and are Their Eggs Safe to Eat?
An Ameraucana possesses a specific egg gene that was selectively bred from the Araucana which causes the blue coloring in the shell. It is perfectly safe to eat and a delightful addition to the traditional white or brown eggs in your fridge.
When Do Ameraucana Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
Ameraucanas start laying by 18 to 20 weeks of age, which is the average age for layers. You can expect a medium egg size, usually achieved during the second season or egg laying cycle.
The Ameraucana is known to be a docile breed that isn’t noisy or flighty. They are confident, independent chickens who are natural foragers, so be sure to provide enough space for them to do some daily ‘gardening’ and they’ll remain incredibly happy!
Even the roosters are not considered overly aggressive, and if your neighbors don’t mind the occasional crow through the day, you can certainly add one to the coop.
You may come across some guides suggesting that these chickens can become broody during their egg laying age, while others emphasize that they don’t tend to go broody. Likewise, I believe that broodiness depends on the individual chicken.
I have two Easter Eggers that went broody for weeks, and these hybrid breeds are not widely considered overly broody.
If you do have a broody hen, you can lessen her need to hatch unfertilized eggs by placing cold packs in her nest or by limiting her access to the nest.
What is the Ameraucana Personality Like?
Ameraucanas love to be a part of the flock because they are very sociable birds. They do not necessarily enjoy being cuddled and constantly picked up but they are described as having a calm temperament.
DID YOU KNOW?Ameraucana chickens are only available from select breeders and are considered a scarce chicken in the United States.
Ameraucanas are not typically at the top of the pecking order, but enjoy being in the middle of the flock dynamic. Because of their size and nature, they are the one type of chicken that will not be starting a fight in a mixed flock!
Meeting Their Needs
If you are thinking about getting an Ameraucana, you can watch their personalities flourish when you provide what they need.
A dry and sheltered coop in winter and a cool area in summer are necessary for their health and well-being. They should also be provided a fair amount of space, because they love to free range in the yard!
The video below is an overview of the Ameraucana as a breed…
Creating a Comfortable Coop for Ameraucana Chickens
Designing a chicken coop for Ameraucanas requires some special consideration because these birds need space.
While some chickens do well in confinement without much free ranging, it is important that you offer Ameraucanas time to forage to prevent stress inside the coop.
I suggest at least five square feet of space per chicken inside the coop and at around ten square feet inside a run. Ensure that their run is secure and located in a sandy area where they can scratch in search of grubs and enjoy sand baths.
Keeping Your Chickens Secure
Ameraucanas are not flighty birds, but they are susceptible to predators as the large fluffy muffs around their faces obscure their ability to spot predators quickly.
If your area is frequented by foxes, coyotes, raccoons, or hawks, you need to fit the enclosure with galvanized mesh covering the entire coop.
For hens to stay comfortable and secure in their nests, their boxes should be 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. This will accommodate their size and prevent them from damaging their freshly laid eggs.
While they are classified as large fowl, they appear medium in size but don’t underestimate them! An Ameraucana will let you know when they aren’t happy.
Ameraucanas and the Elements
When it comes to Ameraucanas and their ability to cope with the seasons, they are described as cold hardy and will tolerate freezing temperatures, but will need some intervention. It is best to give them constant access to a secure, dry coop during periods of snow, frost, and excessive rain.
They do well in warm climates, but should have shaded areas to remain cool and relaxed. Nest boxes should also be well ventilated. No one wants a temperamental Ameraucana hen! Keep her comfortable and she will continue to lay those beautiful blue eggs.
The health of Ameraucanas largely depends on their diet and their environment.
A feather legged chicken can suffer from broken quills and mites, while delicate breeds need special temperature considerations.
Ameraucana chickens on the other hand are generally healthy and hardy despite their parent breed, the Araucana, having some genetic health problems.
Provide them with a good quality feed, grit, and chances to forage, and this breed is sure to live out many joyful years in your coop.
How Long Do Ameraucana Chickens Live?
An Ameraucana chicken can live up to 7 years; however, some keepers have reported their Ameraucanas reaching 10 years in age.
Sourcing your baby chick or adult chicken from a good breeder will go a long way to ensuring strong offspring, lower maintenance, and a high breed standard.
Special Considerations for Breeding True Ameraucanas
When breeding purebred Ameraucanas, it is important that they meet breed criteria such as brown eye color, red ear lobes, pea combs, and recognized colors.
You can breed Ameraucanas in lots of different color varieties. For the wheaten, brown, red, buff, and silver types, they should have no color leaks and the feathers on their wings should not have white tips.
These birds usually have slate skin color, but look out for pink skin and yellow legs in the wheaten brown red buff lines as it is not accepted.
The facial feathers should have no tufts around the ears, and the tails of both hens and roosters should not point higher than 40 degrees.
What Breeders Strive for in Ameraucanas
Breeders will aim for true blue eggs, but some Ameraucanas can lay light green eggs. To breed a true Ameraucana chicken means that it lays blue eggs with no variation in the color of the eggshell.
While the Araucana is known to carry the tufting gene that kills embryos in the egg, Ameraucanas were bred to retain the blue egg gene without carrying the lethal gene.
As this is a generally healthy breed, you shouldn’t have to be concerned with genetic problems; however, you must breed true to the standard to produce acceptable fowl.
Any deviations in color from the ear lobes and eyes to the feathers will automatically disqualify chickens as show birds.
Raising an Ameraucana
If you are new to raising Ameraucanas, one of the best ways to learn more about these lovely birds is to speak to an experienced breeder. They can help you with caring for your chicken and advise you on breed requirements for show purposes.
Raising an Ameraucana chicken is great fun, and they aren’t very fussy birds. So, they are perfect for backyard flocks and they lay fantastic eggs. These blue egg layers are also one of the few chicken breeds available in exotic colors that make a standout addition to the urban coop.
For those interested in raising hatchlings, be sure to find a keeper who breeds true Ameraucanas.
Using your email address, you can sign up to poultry clubs to find authentic Ameraucana chicken breeders. You can also give a breeder your email address so they can notify you when chicks become available. And as a tip, it’s better to order straight-run chicks since they will cost you less.
If you have chickens in your flock that tend to become broody, you can buy fertilized Ameraucana eggs for them to hatch and raise!
The Ameraucana chicken, with its pea comb and docility, is an exceptional breed and rewarding addition to the backyard flock.
Described as the true American chicken breed, their name is based on many years of refinement and debate as to the breeds’ origins.
Today, Ameraucanas are internationally recognized as the chicken that lays eggs in a range of exotic colors, from mint to light blue.
Araucana, Ameraucana, and Easter Eggers
The Ameraucana is not to be confused with its parent bird, the Araucana or the hybrid Easter Egger. The Easter Egg chicken is popular because of its likeness to the Ameraucanas; however, they are not purebred.
Why The Ameraucana is Right for You
The rare egg color, friendly personality, and stunning plumage make these chickens one incredible choice for any sized coop.
While they are considered a rare breed, with some research you can find beautiful birds similar to the true Ameraucana.
Feel Free To Share!
If you own Ameraucanas or you are passionate about these breeds, be sure to share this with your fellow chicken enthusiasts! I hope you enjoyed this guide and you now feel prepared to raise one gorgeous Ameraucana.