If you could imagine a chicken with a mustache, and not just any mustache but one of imperialism, then the Araucana chicken certainly fits the bill! They are also known as the original producers of the blue egg and widely adored for being devoted to their keepers.
So, if you’re looking for a rare blue egg layer with a quirky appearance and loyal personality, then the Araucana could be right for you!
Let’s learn more about the Araucana, their egg laying, care needs, and how you can raise one to be happy and healthy…
Where Did Araucana Chickens Come From?
The Araucana chicken was first sighted in South America, where people admired them for their tufted faces and tailless rumps.
They were named after the Araucanía region in Chile as domestic chickens, but much of their true history remains shrouded in mystery.
Acceptance into the American Poultry Association
By the 1930s these chickens from Chile were on their way to the United States, where the breed underwent more refinement. It was only by the 1970s that Araucanas were accepted into the American Poultry Association (APA).
In the last decade, the Araucana chicken has become a popular choice among backyard chicken keepers.
Today, this special breed from Chile is considered a rarity that you won’t find in many chicken hatcheries because they are so complicated to produce.
These South American chickens are available in different colors, from black and red to the unique gold and silver duckwing.
You can also find a beautiful bantam variety with the classic rumpless end and layers of miniature blue Araucana eggs.
What Do Araucana Chickens Look Like?
When explorers first sailed across the border into South America, little did they know that they’d come across a chicken with feathers on the sides of the head and a tailless rump! To them, Araucanas were unlike any other breed.
Even today, they remain one of the most unique chicken breeds. From their tufts to their color variety, you’re sure to find the perfect rumpless bird to add to your backyard coop.
APA Breed Standards
The APA requires that Araucana chickens have a pea comb with three ridges. It is much larger in the males; however, both hens and roosters have pea combs and wattles that are small enough to avoid frostbite in winter.
These birds have willow-colored legs, except for the white color that has yellow legs and the black variety with dark or black legs. These birds are clean-legged and have four toes on each foot.
This chicken has an upright stance and looks almost like a historical jungle bird! The Araucana chicks are also fast growers and much stronger than your average breed. Let’s look at some of their more popular features.
All purebred Araucanas have ear tufts that show on the sides of their head. These tufts can become quite prominent, which is the reason I referred to these birds as donning a noble mustache!
If their ear tufts become too long, you can trim them so that they don’t get in the way. They don’t have a beard, but the Ameraucana and some Easter Eggers have them.
DID YOU KNOW?
Araucanas are challenging to breed because the facial tuft gene that is carried by one parent can lead to the death of chicks inside the shell.
If you are looking for a rare breed of chicken, it is best to find a quality breeder who specializes in Araucanas.
All Araucana chickens are rumpless birds, meaning that they have no feathers around the tail area. Their back slopes towards their rear, creating a rather odd appearance, but their lack of feathers in this area is actually a tail bone that is characteristic of the araucana breed.
APA accepted colors include black red, white, black, golden duckwing, and silver duckwing. They also come in colors such as blue and lavender; however, these are not recognized by the Poultry Association and could be a crossing with other breeds.
The black breasted red is one of the most popular color varieties; however, the duckwing Araucana is known to steal the hearts of many backyard keepers.
Weight and Size
Roosters can reach a weight of 5 lbs while the Araucana hens are 4 lbs. The bantam Araucanas are smaller than their standard cousins, with roosters reaching 2.6 lbs and hens around 2 lbs or less.
Differences Between the Araucana and Ameraucana Chickens
Two breeds that are often confused with the Araucana are Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers. Both the Ameraucana and the Easter Egger lay blue eggs and green eggs, but neither have ear tufts.
Both breeds have tails, unlike the rumpless Araucana but their pea combs can confuse many as to the identity of the bird.
Is the Araucana Chicken a Good Egg Laying Bird?
Despite the Araucana chicken being a small-sized bird, hens can lay eggs of 25 to 35 g in weight and are also pretty consistent layers. Her eggs are also a stunning hue of sky blue that you simply won’t find in other breeds.
What is the Typical Egg Color of Araucana Chickens?
The purebred Araucana lays blue eggs and no other variation – this is why they are such spectacular birds.
Even though the Easter Egger can lay shades of blue and green eggs, they simply cannot compare to the true blue eggs of the Araucana chicken.
What Does an Araucana Chicken Egg Taste Like?
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a blue egg is less nutritious than traditional brown eggs. The blue eggs of the Araucana are delicious, and there is no difference between their yolks and that of a typical free-ranging bird.
One thing is for sure, though. Regardless of taste, Araucana blue eggs always attract attention and add some interesting variety to the pantry.
How Many Blue Eggs Do Araucana Chickens Lay?
Araucanas lay between 150 to 180 eggs per year, which is an average of 3 eggs per week. While you may be disappointed by her slow egg production rates, she certainly makes up for it with her novelty egg color.
Remember that Araucanas are South American, and will rarely lay during the cold of winter. But, they should still be producing blue eggs in spring and summer.
Is the Araucana Chicken a Good Meat Bird?
Because of their small size, the Araucana chicken is just not a great meat bird. They don’t carry a lot of weight and would certainly not be ideal as table fare.
Are Araucanas Broody?
Unlike typical egg laying breeds, Araucana hens do become broody. The Araucana hens are in fact such a broody chicken breed that you won’t need an incubator to hatch eggs, meaning they’d make excellent mothers.
If you are breeding your own stock, it is important to keep an eye on the hatch rate of the Araucana chicks because of that deadly tuft gene.
Not all eggs will hatch, but the chicks that do survive tend to feather faster and mature a lot quicker than other breeds. This is because the toughest chicks survive to hatch and develop into vigorous birds.
The Temperament of Araucanas
Some say that the Araucana is one of the friendliest chicken breeds in the world, while others argue that these tufted birds can be skittish and flighty.
Because Araucanas are such active chickens, some keepers can mistake their behavior as being nervous, overly responsive, or hypersensitive to their environment.
For those who have reared these chickens for some time, Araucanas are regarded as placid birds that are naturally curious about their surroundings and always interested in what their keepers are up to.
Raising Araucana Chickens with Children
Children love odd-looking chickens, especially when they have docile personalities. If you are thinking of the best chicken breed to introduce to children, then young Araucana chicks you can raise with your family will provide you all many years of joy.
Young birds that are frequently and carefully handled will be easier to manage as adults and would end up a lot friendlier than other adult birds.
Will Araucanas Get Along with Other Chickens?
When raised in a mixed flock with enough coop space and time to forage, these chickens will get along with most breeds.
They enjoy the flock dynamic and are also hardy, but you should always keep an eye on their feathered ear tufts because these tufts could be picked on by other chickens.
The Importance of Free-Ranging
Because they are such active chickens, Araucanas must be allowed to free-range and engage in natural foraging behavior.
You could spend hours watching these chickens scratch through the dirt searching for grit, grubs, and other chicken delicacies!
Coop and Run Requirements
A safe coop and run are an important part of raising Araucanas, but these birds are also naturally predator savvy and tend to alert the rest of the flock when an intruder is present.
Araucanas like to roam and can stray pretty far from the coop when raised on an urban homestead, so invest in some good fencing to prevent them from visiting your neighbor’s yard.
This tendency to roam and their need to forage could be related to their ancestry as free and hardy chickens, but a lack of coop space and freedoms could lead them to be boisterous birds (and very noisy at that!).
This leads us to our next questions; are Araucanas noisy, and would they be suitable for an urban chicken coop?
Is the Araucana a Noisy Chicken?
Araucanas are not considered screechy or overly noisy chickens, which is a reason they make such great additions for backyard coops.
They are naturally talkative, especially when you have their favorite treats. But when their needs are met, they are generally calm and quiet.
Is the Araucana a Healthy Breed?
If you are looking for active and strong chickens, Araucanas could be the right birds for you. These birds enjoy free-ranging and do best when left to forage, which can also prevent behavioral issues inside the coop and among the flock.
Their only problem is the low hatch rates of chicks because of the risky tuft gene carried by the parents. The chicks that do survive tend to develop rapidly and should adapt very quickly to their environment.
Araucanas are affected by the general issues that plague all breeds of chickens, such as lice and mites. These pests tend to migrate to the dense feathers around the rump and face, so look out for signs of scratching and feather loss!
To prevent mite or lice infestations, dig a hole or place an old box in the coop, then fill it with sand and wood ash for chickens to dust bathe in.
Dust bathing is a natural way for chickens to prevent mites and it keeps them smelling fresh and clean!
How to Raise Araucana Chickens
These chickens have become popular additions for the homesteader who lives in regions that are prone to harsh winter weather.
Their flat comb protects them against frostbite and their feathering will keep them warm, but they should always have access to a sheltered and dry coop.
Considered both cold and heat tolerant, coop space is a crucial factor for the healthy condition of these chickens. Coops and runs should be spacious, protected against harsh weather, and include nest boxes of at least 12 inches wide to provide enough comfort.
Is the Araucana Hardy?
Yes, Araucanas are amazing birds and tend to adapt to their environment pretty quickly.
They do need some help from their keepers and should always have access to shade in summer or warmth and shelter in winter; however, they can also be quite independent and take care of themselves.
Can Araucanas Tolerate Confinement?
If the coop is spacious and you give these birds time to free-range, then they can tolerate confinement. I would not recommend an Araucana for a backyard coop where they cannot roam and won’t have enough space for free-ranging.
The Lifespan of Araucanas
Provided a good diet, basic care, and a fair amount of space to satisfy their need to roam, these chickens can live for 8 years. Some keepers have reported many birds surpassing the 8-year mark, which is quite impressive for this small-sized chicken.
Araucana chickens are the aristocrats of the chicken world known for their ability to lay blue eggs, unusual appearance, spunky personality, and those incredible tufts!
They are also rumpless. In other words, they have no feathers on their tail – this gives them their signature short and stout-looking body!
What is most interesting about the Araucana chicken is the presence of a lethal gene that lowers the hatch rate, as it virtually attacks chicks while they’re in the shells. If you are considering breeding Araucana, be mindful of this phenomenon when you buy fertilized eggs or a breeding pair.
An impressive and much-loved feature of these birds has to be their ability to lay blue eggs. As hardy chickens, Araucana hens can lay up to 180 eggs per year with incredible dark yellow yolks.
Their colorful eggs taste the same as the brown eggs of a standard chicken, but certainly make for an interesting addition to your egg basket!
Whether you adore them for their beautiful blue eggs or their fluffy tufts, there is no denying the beauty and the uniqueness of the Araucana.
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