Your Ultimate Guide To The Ameraucana Chicken Breed
The Ameraucana breed is famous for its medium-sized blue eggs. But while they can give you colored eggs, this hybrid chicken breed’s large size and low broodiness level may or may not be suitable for your backyard. Read this guide to learn if this breed is right for you.
- Ameraucana chicken breed in a nutshell
- A Brief History of the Ameraucana Chicken
- Ameraucana Chicken Size, General Appearance, and Weight
- Ameraucana Chicken Colors: The 9 Recognized Varieties
- Fact Check: Difference Between Easter Eggers, Araucanas, and Ameraucanas
- What’s It Like To Own An Ameraucana Chicken
- How to Take Care of Ameraucanas
- Where can you buy Ameraucana Chickens?
- The Verdict
Ameraucana chicken breed in a nutshell
|Purpose for Breeding||Eggs, exhibition|
|Weight||Large fowl: 2-2.9kgs (4.5-6.5lbs); bantam: 680-850g (24-30oz)|
|Appearance||Noticeable facial feathers and tail|
|Egg production||Average of 150-200 eggs a year|
|Egg color||Blue, green|
|Broodiness level||Low to medium|
|Ease of care||Low maintenance|
|Lifespan||Not specific; assume average lifespan of chickens between 5 to 10 years.|
|Meat production time||12 months|
|Space Requirements||Needs relatively large space to roam|
|Activity level||Highly active|
|Temperament||Generally friendly and docile (cocks may be aggressive)|
|Sociability with other chickens||Tolerates other chickens|
|Sociability with people||Docile, but some do not like being held|
|Conservation status||Listed as study|
A Brief History of the Ameraucana Chicken
Mike Gilbert, John Blehm, and other breeders developed the Ameraucana breed from Easter Eggers. They isolated physical characteristics such as the tail, beard, and muffs and crossbred them with several other show breeds.
By the 1980s, the American Poultry Association’s American Standard of Perfection accepted and recognized the Ameraucana as a breed.
Ameraucana Chicken Size, General Appearance, and Weight
Ameraucanas are medium-sized chickens. However, large fowls can grow between 4.5 and 6.5 pounds, while Bantam versions can weigh anywhere from 24 and 30 ounces.
A true Ameraucana has a pea comb, prominent tail, and a full round chest. Just like their stylish cousins, the bearded Silkies, Ameraucanas have beards and muffs. They also have blue slate-colored feet, curved beaks, large wings carried above the hock joint, and lay blue eggs (1).
Hens and roosters have some differences in both feather coloring and body structure, just like other chicken breeds. The roosters have more prominent combs, tails, and saddles. Ameraucana chicks also look different from their parents.
Ameraucana Chicken Colors: The 9 Recognized Varieties
Since the breed is quite similar to the Araucana chicken breed and Easter Eggers, the standards are pretty strict. A lot are disqualified for exhibition, especially when it comes to color varieties. There are nine color varieties accepted by the American Poultry Association for the Ameraucana Chicken Breed (1). These are the following for both bantams and large fowls: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff Silver, Wheaten, White. The 9th color, Self blue, is a color variety accepted only for the large fowls.
The roosters and hens of this Black Ameraucana have uniform black plumage throughout their bodies. This variety is common to both large fowl and bantam categories.
There is a clear distinction between the Blue Ameraucana roosters and hens’ feather color and pattern. This variety is available as large fowl and bantam.
Roosters have blue beards and muffs with black hackles, saddles, and tails. The chest is blue with black lacing, and the fluff is blue.
A Blue Ameraucana has a more uniform blue feathering with black lacing throughout their bodies, including the tail and fluff. Their facial feathers are a lighter gray color.
3. Blue Wheaten
These have quite complex colorings and patterns, and there is also a notable difference between roosters and hens. Both bantams and large fowls can manifest this color variety.
Blue Wheaten roosters have blue beards and muffs, turning black towards the edges of the general area. They have black tails with orange hackles, saddle and wingtips, blue chests, and fluffs with black lacing.
Hens are a bit more simple with pretty much uniform light beige plumage throughout the body, apart from having slightly darker hackles, wingtips, and almost black tail tips. The facial feathers of the Blue Wheaten variety are white.
4. Brown Red
This variety is very similar to Wheaten. Brown Red Ameraucana hens are very different from the roosters, but this variety is common to both bantams and large fowl.
Roosters have black beards, muffs, chests, fluff, and tails with dark orange hackles. They have light orange capes and saddles with black lacing.
The hens are almost all black apart from some orange showing through the head and hackles.
Both roosters and hens need a uniform buff color throughout the body, including the beard, muff, and tails. A pure Buff Ameraucana is quite hard to achieve, considering the cross-breeding nature of developing the variety (2).
Breeding a Buff Americauna from scratch is difficult.
The Silver or Lavender Ameraucana has a huge distinction between roosters and hens, similar to other breeds of the same Silver variety. Both bantams and large fowl can manifest this color.
Hens have bodies, tails, and fluff, which are brownish-gray with white ribs on each feather. The hackles are black laced with white. Their beards are light brown with black muffs.
Roosters have black facial feathers, tails, chest, and fluff. Their hackles, cape, saddle, and wingtips are white with streaks of black in the center of each feather.
As mentioned earlier, this is similar to the brown-red variety. Wheaten is common in bantam and large fowl chickens.
Roosters have black face feathers, tails, chest, and fluff with partly black wings. Their hackles, saddles, and wingtips are dark orange.
Hens have beige plumage with white ribs throughout their bodies apart from their tail and wingtips, which are black with white ribs. They also have white feathers on their faces and fluff.
The white variety is uniform in color throughout their bodies for both roosters and hens. Just like Wheaten, White is standard in bantam and large fowl Ameraucanas.
9. Self Blue
This variety is also known as lavender. Both the Self Blue Ameraucana rooster and hen have uniform slate blue plumage throughout their bodies, including their tails, beards, and muffs.
Fact Check: Difference Between Easter Eggers, Araucanas, and Ameraucanas
There has been much confusion over the decades between these three kinds of chicken. We’ll be setting the record straight once and for all and will be giving you a summary of the notable differences between these three kinds of chicken.
|Year Introduced/recognized in the United States?||1920s||APA recognized in 1976||APA recognized in 1984|
|Egg Color||White, Brown, Blue, Green||Blue/Green||Blue/Green|
|Face and Tail||Variety, no standard||Face is smooth with ear tufts, without tails||Face is bearded and has ear muffs, with tails|
|Body Shape||Thin frames||Full round chest||Large full chest|
|Comb type||Variety, no standard||Pea combs||Pea combs|
|Leg color||Variety, no standard||Willow, yellow, black||Slate blue|
Simply put, the Easter Eggers are the “mongrels” of the chicken world and are the first blue egg layers. They were imported from Chile in South America and brought into the US in the 1920s. The Araucana was bred from Easter Eggers. Araucana kept the distinguishable ear tufts but not the tail. The Ameraucana, on the other hand, features a tail, beard, and ear muffs.
As for the egg color, Ameraucana can lay different shades of blue egg. One notable difference between Easter Egger and Ameraucana’s blue egg is the absence of the lethal ear tufts gene found in Easter Eggers.
What’s It Like To Own An Ameraucana Chicken
- Fair egg-layers
- Interesting Blue eggs
- Can be flighty
- Roosters can be aggressive
- Difficult to determine “true” breed for exhibition
Ameraucana’s Personality And Temperament
Ameraucanas are generally docile (3). However, they can get quite flighty when startled or put in unfamiliar situations. Like other hybrid chickens such as the Red Stars, it’s important to note that the personality and temperament of the Ameraucana breed may vary from one breeder’s flock to another and between varieties.
Ameraucana hens are sweet and personable; their whiskers and beards always make me smile.
In terms of broodiness, the Ameraucana hen isn’t the best setters. If you’re just after harvesting eggs for consumption, you don’t have to worry. For breeding, having a good quality incubator or a flock of broody hens like the Wyandottes would be ideal.
Overall, if you’re looking to add different personalities to your flock, this breed is a good choice.
Ameraucana Chicken Egg Color and Meat Production
The blue Ameraucana chicken egg color is highly sought after by breeders and chicken enthusiasts alike. Contrary to popular belief, Ameraucanas also lay eggs that are more green than blue.
However, it is still acceptable for exhibitions. The egg color ranges from light blue to greenish-blue, never white or brown.
As for egg laying, Ameraucanas are quite good egg layers, with hens laying between 150-200 medium to large-sized eggs annually and usually year-round.
The blue eggs have the same nutritional value as normal chicken eggs.
The Ameraucana chicken size is average, and these bearded birds have prominent chests and a wide-body structure. They are also a meat source, making them a dual-purpose breed. However, they take time to grow and mature, so you may be better off having breeds like the Plymouth Rock in your flock for meat.
Ameraucana Chicken Noise
Ameraucanas are generally quiet birds when they are happy and safe. They are flighty birds, so keeping them in a safe place with ample space to roam would lessen their noises.
How to Take Care of Ameraucanas
Raising chickens can be tricky for high maintenance breeds, but the Ameraucana is not one of them. If you’re considering adding them to your flock, keep reading about the best ways to care for this particular breed.
1. Give ample space
Ameraucanas don’t take well to confinement – it makes them anxious. They are active birds and need space. Having a coop with a run would be ideal for a backyard set up. If you have extra space, free-ranging these birds is a better option. However, you should fence the area quite high as they can be flighty.
These birds are quite tolerant of the cold but have low heat tolerance. In any case, their shelter should be able to keep them comfortable and safe in any climate. Providing shade for extreme heat and an enclosed area for colder months would be best.
2. Feed organic food
Although Ameraucanas are active foragers, it is still best to give them good quality feed to supplement the natural food they pick out during the day. For meat and egg production, the right diet is crucial for this chicken breed.
3. Watch out for common health issues
Like all chickens, breeders and keepers alike should look out for common chicken parasites. Lucky for this breed, they are not specifically prone to any disease or abnormalities. Unlike their close relative, the Araucana, the Ameraucana lacks the lethal gene for ear tufts that kill baby chicks, usually before hatching or shortly after (4).
Most of these die within a week, but occasionally an “escaper” will live to maturity.
Although the Ameraucana also has facial feathering, this genetic trait is not harmful to them.
Where can you buy Ameraucana Chickens?
Due to the mixed lineage of this breed, finding true Ameraucanas is tricky, especially for exhibitions. For your peace of mind, search for breeders that are members of Ameraucana clubs and hatcheries affiliated with these clubs. Here are a few of them:
- Ameraucana Alliance Directory (USA and Canada)
- Ameraucana Breeders Club Directory (USA and Canada)
- Murray McMurray Hatchery (Iowa, USA)
Overall, The Ameraucana is a good starting breed for new chicken enthusiasts. They are hardy with a good demeanor and are relatively easy to care of. Even the most experienced chicken keepers will love to have Ameraucana in their flock and as backyard chickens.
Ameraucana can lay five to six eggs during the first laying. For the next laying year, Ameraucana chicken can provide you an average of four to five eggs per week. You can achieve better egg-laying frequency by providing the Ameraucana breed with the right environment, diet, and care. Since this blue egg-laying breed’s broodiness level is low to medium, it is advisable to have an incubator or a flock of broody hens. Don’t be surprised if you get different shades of blue eggs. This chicken’s blue egg can be light blue and even green-blue.
Ameraucana chickens start laying eggs between 6 to 7 months old. Like Brahma chickens, Ameraucanas are a slower-maturing breed. However, it doesn’t mean that they are not the best egg layers. As mentioned, they can provide you with five eggs per week. If you have five Ameraucanas, you’ll get 25 eggs in seven days or 1,300 eggs in a year. If you prefer higher egg production, you can choose a Speckled Sussex. One Speckled Sussex chicken can produce 300 eggs per year.
Ameraucana chicken can live between 5 to 10 years, which is the average life of a chicken. Like other chicken breeds, Ameraucana requires proper care for longer life. Although Ameraucanas are not prone to any health conditions, booking a regular veterinarian checkup is necessary. They might have a parasite infestation, which can make them sick. For their ear tufts, don’t worry. They do not possess the lethal egg gene of Araucana. You should also provide this breed of chicken with high-quality feed and consider raising them as free-range chickens.
- Ameraucana Breed Standard. Retrieved from: https://www.ameraucana.org/Ameraucana%20Standard
- Buff Ameraucanas. Retrieved from: https://ameraucanabreedersclub.org/forum/index.php?topic=324.0
- About Ameraucana. Retrieved from https://truenorthfarm.ca/products/ameraucana
- Ear tuftedness: a lethal condition in the Araucana fowl. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7276512/