Your Ultimate Guide to the Araucana Chicken
With its lack of tail and unique genetics, the Araucana chicken is an unusual looking bird that lays coveted blue eggs. While these traits are desirable, other low fertility and hatch rates make it a challenge to breed these chickens.
Our guide will help you decide if these special chooks are worth raising in your backyard.
- Araucana Chicken Breed In A Nutshell
- A Brief History of the Araucana Chicken
- What Does An Araucana Chicken Look Like?
- Araucana Chicken Colors: The 5 Recognized Varieties
- What’s It Like To Own Araucana Chickens?
- How to Take Care of Araucanas
- Where Can You Buy Araucana Chickens?
- The Bottomline
Araucana Chicken Breed In A Nutshell
|Country of Origin||Chile, South America|
|Purpose for Breeding||Eggs,Ornamental|
|Size / market weight||Medium, 3.5 – 5 pounds|
|Notable Features||Rumpless, ear tufts, pea comb|
|Egg production||Good layers, 200 eggs per year|
|Egg color & size||Blue, medium size|
|Ease of care||Low hatching rate, low maintenance if successful|
|Ideal meat production time||Not ideal for meat|
|Pullet Maturity time||20-24 weeks|
|Space Requirements||Large enclosed space|
|Activity level||Very active likes to fly|
|Temperament||Friendly and docile|
|Sociability with other chickens||Good|
|Sociability with people||Great|
A Brief History of the Araucana Chicken
The history of the Araucana chicken breed is quite interesting. Why? There are conflicting claims. Some of them include:
- They were brought to South America from Europe (busted by carbon-dating study).
- They came from Polynesia (recent studies say they also didn’t).
- A retrovirus mutated their eggs to become blue (sounds like a Marvel plot, but it’s true!)
The generally accepted theory is that the Araucana chicken originated from two breeds: the Quetros and the Collonocas chickens from Chile in South America.
They were brought to the United States by Dr. Ruben Bustros, who pioneered the Araucana breed we know today (1).
What Does An Araucana Chicken Look Like?
When you first see an Araucana, your first thought might be, “Well, where’s the rest of it?”
That’s because this heritage chicken breed is rumpless. Yes, not just tailless, RUMPLESS. Araucana chickens have no tail feathers, tail bone, and an oil gland that most chickens have.
These birds may not have tails like the Phoenix chicken, but they have ear tufts that always curl differently.
Their ear tufts always curl differently, which adds character to a flock. Their lack of tails may be weird, but hey, they always make for interesting conversations with your visitors.
Here are more characteristics of the Araucana chicken (2):
- Medium chickens weighing 4 – 5 lbs.
- Have pea combs
- Very small to absent wattles
- Small earlobes
- Lay blue eggs
- No beards or muffs
Their unique characteristics and rare status make them desirable among true chicken enthusiasts.
Araucana Chicken Colors: The 5 Recognized Varieties
Araucanas are an accepted breed by the American Poultry Association (APA). These birds come in 5 color varieties of either large fowl or bantam variety:
1. Black Araucana
Roosters and hens have uniform shiny black plumage with willow shanks.
2. Black Breasted Red Araucana
Roosters have a black chest and lower body plumage. They also have a chestnut neck and back with black tufts. Hens have reddish-chestnut heads and necks with cinnamon body plumage and tufts.
3. Golden Duckwing
Roosters have creamy white head and neck feathers, black tufts, and breast and shank plumage with golden saddles and wingbows.
Hens have grayish necks with a silver rib, dark gray back feathers (each with a steel gray strip), and brown chest and wings.
4. Silver Duckwing
Roosters have a similar color pattern to the golden duckwing with the saddles and wingbows silver instead of gold. Hens have a similar color pattern to the golden duckwing, with the chest and wings being black.
Roosters and hens have uniformly white plumage with yellow shanks.
What’s It Like To Own Araucana Chickens?
These unique birds are an adventure to keep. You can get a glimpse into an Araucana breeder’s life and learn about these chicken’s character, productivity, and special needs.
- Cold hardy and heat tolerant
- Rare chicken breed
- Good egg layers
- Fast maturing
- Not ideal for meat
- Low hatch rate
- Low fertility rate
- Some gene combinations are lethal
- Big coop required
Araucana’s Personality And Temperament
Araucanas have a very likable personality. They are docile, smart, and not aggressive, making them good backyard buddies for kids and adults.
They are also active birds, good foragers, and excellent flyers. Araucana hens tend to go broody and make great mothers.
Araucana Chicken Egg And Meat Production
Araucanas are chickens that lay colored eggs, blue colored ones to be exact. The color permeates through the shell and is not just a coating.
The shade of blue varies. Some are a grayish hue, light turquoise blue, and violet-blue toned, while others are somewhat green eggs with a blue tint.
Araucana hens are great egg layers (3). A single hen can lay an average of 200 beautiful blue eggs per year!
Speaking of beautiful blue eggs, these colored eggs started a diet craze that says Araucana eggs are healthier and have less cholesterol than other colored eggs. Don’t believe it. A study debunked the diet craze (4).
The Araucana eggs were consistently higher in their cholesterol levels on a mg./g. yolk basis than either of the market eggs. These increased concentrations ranged from 2.0–6.9%
The high cholesterol makes the eggs less healthy but also makes them tastier.
Since the Araucana breed can only grow about 5 pounds, they don’t have much meat. If you want a chicken to raise for your dinners, maybe consider getting either a Wyandotte or a Plymouth Rock instead.
How to Take Care of Araucanas
Araucana chickens, as you have come to know, are very quirky backyard chickens. Read up and see if you can take on the challenges of raising these extraordinary chickens.
1. Keep them in a large chicken coop or in a free-range system
Araucana chickens, although on the small side, need lots of space with fresh grass.
They are smart, adventurous birds that love to walk around and even fly!
They do better in a free-range system (with high fences) to satisfy their curiosity and natural foraging traits. If you must keep them in a chicken coop, make it a big one because they make a lot of noise when bored.
2. Give good quality feed
Since Araucanas are primarily for egg production, a good quality feed can sustain their nutritional needs. A free-range diet also helps them get stronger and supplements their diet with natural organic nutrients.
Araucana chicks also need booster feed to help them get through to adulthood.
3. Trim some of the fluff on its rear
You may think that this RUMPLESS and TUFTED combination is unique, but it’s a result of low fertility and low hatching rates.
Being rumpless makes it hard for the roosters to mate naturally. Breeders often have to assist or use artificial insemination to achieve fertilization.
A way to help boost fertility is to trim some of the fluff on the Araucana’s rear. The feathers can curl too far back, preventing the rooster and hen from successfully mating.
The breeding struggles continue after fertilization. The ear tuft gene is dominant and lethal to embryos and chicks if both parents are carriers.
Because of this, breeders are careful to select parent stocks to improve the hatch rate. Even then, the mortality rate is still high (5).
The average embryonic mortality among heterozygotes was 41.6 percent. Posthatch mortality also was significantly greater among tufted chicks
From those that are lucky enough to hatch, only a few make it into adulthood.
Why Should You Still Consider Getting An Araucana?
If they do beat the odds, adult Araucanas pretty much embodies that Kelly Clarkson’s song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and can even lay through harsh winters. Plus, they hardy chickens that are not susceptible to disease.
Where Can You Buy Araucana Chickens?
The Araucana chicken, just like the Russian Orloff, is a rare breed.
Hatcheries don’t sell Araucana eggs for hatching and young chicks because they are prone to premature death.
Your best bet for sourcing true Araucana chickens would be to get them from expert specialty chicken keepers. You can also contact the breeders listed in the directory of the Araucana Club of America.
The Araucana chicken is a rare, hardy breed of chicken. Their blue-eggs are a novelty, and their friendly and curious nature makes them a joy to have around.
They are not the best meat birds, nor are they the easiest to breed, but Araucana chickens are very productive egg-layers.
If you like a breeding challenge and have a penchant for rare chickens, this breed would be an excellent addition to your backyard flock.
The main differences between the Araucana and Ameraucana chicken are the tails and special featherings. Here’s a table to help you visualize.
Criteria for Araucanas
Tail : No tail, no rump
Face : Clean face with ear tufts
Legs : Willow or yellow legs
Criteria for Ameraucanas
Tail : With tail and rump
Face : Bear and muffs, no ear tufts
Legs : Always slate blue legs
Don’t worry. A lot of people get these breeds confused.
Both Araucanas and Ameraucanas are both developed breeds from easter eggers and have a lot of similarities.
Araucanas are your average chickens in terms of noise. They are active and usually cluck while foraging.
Some Araucanas seem to have swallowed a megaphone and continuously find the need to cluck about everything that’s happening. Others can be quiet as a mouse. It all depends on the chicken.
If you live in a suburban area with neighbors living close by, the Araucana may not be a good fit for your backyard. After all, not everyone enjoys the crowing and clucking of chickens.
Araucanas start laying between 20-24 weeks of age. Their egg-laying expectation is relatively fast, considering they are a heritage breed.
Their fast maturity means you don’t have to wait too long to see and get the famous blue egg in your basket!
If you’re keeping Araucanas just for eggs, make sure only to get hens. It’s challenging to have roosters around when your pullets start to mature because, well, you already know what happens when an Araucana egg gets fertilized.
- Araucana History. Retrieved from: https://www.araucana.net/history/
- Standards of Perfection. Retrieved from: https://www.araucana.net/sop/
- Araucana. Retrieved from: https://www.higheroakfarm.co.uk/araucana
- Protein and cholesterol content of Araucana chicken eggs. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/564510/
- Ear tuftedness: a lethal condition in the Araucana fowl. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/jhered/article-abstract/72/2/121/822363?redirectedFrom=PDF
Tana grew up around island farms and pine forests. Her love for nature lead to her degree in Biology and mission to lessen her environmental impact. Now she grows food in her backyard and shares what she learns from Eco Peanut with others.