Ameraucana Chicken: The Myths, Lies, & FACTS

The Ameraucana chicken is a purebred American breed that lays up 250 blue eggs annually! Its introduction caused such a frenzy of excitement when it first became known that many false breeds were sold off to an excited public who (falsely0 believed the blue eggs were healthier. The Ameraucana chicken is one of the best you can choose for your own flock. It has a fascinating history that starts way back in the 1500s and its origins are steeped in myths and lies. If you’re looking for a docile and productive layer to add to your flock, this one deserves serious consideration.

a lavender ameraucana hen walks in the snow
A lavender Ameraucana hen in the snow, this is a cold-hardy breed.

Ameraucana Quick Facts

  • Primary use: Dual-Purpose (Meat & Egg laying, although better suited to egg-laying really, more on that below)
  • Size (Roosters): 6.5 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 5.5 lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 200-250
  • Egg size: Medium – Large
  • Egg colour: Blue
  • Origin: USA

Top Reasons To Choose The Ameraucana For Your Flock

  • Curious and friendly by nature
  • Great forager
  • Predator wary with a natural instinct for staying safe
  • Great egg production; (technically) a dual-purpose bird
  • Cold hardy
  • Medium-sized birds that require less feed
  • Produces medium-large sized, BLUE eggs
  • Several unique feather color combinations, a very pretty bird
  • Comes in both bantam (small) and regular varieties

The Ameraucana chicken is a great egg-laying breed and one of the few that lays blue eggs. They are technically classed as dual-purpose, but I do not believe this to be true — more on that later.

Ameraucana is frequently misspelled as Americana, although some unscrupulous breeders purposely call their inferior stock Americana.

They are frequently used in producing mixed breed chickens that lay various egg colors. Ameraucanas were used to develop the Azure Blue chicken as well as the dark green laying Olive Eggers I have.

And don’t let their dark, bay red eyes or hawkish appearance deceive you…they aren’t sinister or mean by nature. In fact they’re a great breed for children and families.

a dark blue ameraucana chicken on a white background

Dual-Purpose? Not Really

The Ameraucana is technically a dual-purpose bird — though I know few people who raise them as such.

Can you eat them? Sure.

Are they your best choice for a true dual-purpose breed? Not even close.

For true dual-purpose chickens, consider: Orpingtons, Bresse, Australorps, Salmon Faverolles, Red Rangers etc.

The Ameraucana excels as a great layer of eggs with a good feed to egg conversion and that is more than good enough.

These days everything seems to be classified as dual-purpose wen it really is not.

Dual purpose means that a breed excels at both things, not that it’s great at the one thing and passable at the other.

I see this label applied to the Cinnamon Queen chicken breed and the Welsh Harlequin duck, and I do not think it is entirely accurate.

Blue Eggs

The Ameraucana became popular for its eggs.

They were bred as a means to preserve the beautiful blue egg gene of the Araucana chicken.

The Ameraucana is well-known for its high egg production of 200-250 annually.

The start laying eggs later, around six months of age.

See Also my articles on the 21 Best Chicken Breeds For Egg Laying and the 10 Known Chicken Breeds That Lay Blue Eggs.

close up of a head of an ameraucana rooster

Appearance

According to the American poultry association (APA), the Ameraucana Chicken is a medium-sized bird, with hens weighing about 5.5 lbs and roosters around 6 pounds at maturity.

They come in 9 recognized colors although breeders will often breed non-recognized colors too, just for the sheer fun and beauty of it.

They come in many color varieties:

  • wheaten
  • blue wheaten
  • blue
  • black
  • brown red
  • buff
  • silver
  • white
  • self-blue

(Wheaten and white are my favorite color varieties but the black type is also very striking.)

They have red bay eyes and a hawkish appearance.

The Ameraucana has a red pea comb atop its head, and has ‘muffs’, along with a beard, making its cheeks appear plump and chubby like a chipmunk.

They have muffs and beard. Its entire face should nearly be covered by the muffs.

Their tail feathers are upright and their legs and feet are often a slate blue, or dark, color.

This is according to the breed standard.

a wheaten ameraucana hen on straw

Araucana, Ameraucana, or Easter Egger?

An Easter Egger chicken is a mutt of dubious origin that carries the blue egg gene but lays any number of egg colors like blue, green, brown, cream, pink etc.

You do not know what an Easter Egger will lay until she starts laying, hence the name.

True Ameraucanas are a purebred that lays only BLUE eggs and no other color.

Mating two Ameraucanas produces offspring that lay only blue eggs, not so with Easter Eggers.

There is even a hybrid called the Fibro Easter Egger that has Ameraucana lineage. It is a black skinned chicken that lays blue eggs!

As stated — the misspelling Americana is sometimes used purposely by breeders trying to pawn off Easter Eggers as Ameraucanas. Usually they don’t bother with the misspelling, but if you ever come across someone calling their chickens Americanas, I would not be interested in their genetics.

Most Easter Eggers will have Ameraucana somewhere in their lineage, usually some Salmon Faverolles (for the pink egg color) too.

Then there is the Araucana, another pure breed.

The Araucana and its lethal genes are why the Ameraucana exists.

I’ll explain all about that next. It’s a wild story that starts back in the 1500’s.

a black and white ameraucana hen poking her head through some bushes

A Fascinating History

The origin of the breed is convoluted and somewhat mysterious.

In a way it is America’s newest breed (the Dominique and Plymouth Rock being the oldest) as it did not receive official breed designation until the 1970’s from the American APA/ABA.

But in another way, the story of this breed can be traced back to the 1500s and to another mysterious and rare chicken — the Araucana. And we cannot discuss the Ameraucana without discussing first the Araucana.

Here is what we know:

Before the Spaniards arrived in what is now the American continent, the Mapuche people of Chile had two breeds of chickens in separate parts of the country which were (somewhat) domesticated.

One of the breeds was called Collonca.

It was small, rumpless, laid blue eggs, and had a single comb.

The other they called the Quetro or Quetero.

It was tufted with a standard chicken tail and pea comb. It was a layer of brown eggs.

Crosses occurred but they were rare due to the isolated nature and vast expanses of the land. The offspring that did hatch and survive would frequently be tufted and rumpless (this is important I swear, bear with me) and later would be named Collonca de Arêtes by the invading Spaniards which means ‘with earrings’

a wheaten ameraucana hen on straw

These Collonca de Arêtes mixed chickens were blue egg layers, as the blue egg gene is a dominant one.

In 1556 the Spanish would again attack the Mapuche people and an epic poem, La Araucana, was written by Alonso de Ercilla and you can read it in English here, it is very long but a fascinating and tragic part of history nonetheless.

This name Araucana stuck with the Mapuche and also with their chickens.

The parent-breed of the modern Araucana (yes they’re still around) is this ancient version. The origin of the Ameraucana is the Araucana chicken variety that would be developed in Chile in the 1900’s by Dr. Rueben Bustos, a chicken expert.

However, these birds were scarcely known outside of their native homeland. That soon changed.

The blue egg laying chicken was about to take the poultry world by an absolute storm when Professor Salvador Castello, a Spanish poultry expert, who had seen and photographed the Collonca de Arêtes at an exhibition in Santiago in 1914, would write a paper to the First World’s Poultry Congress in the Hague (Holland).

Castello did not know though that the “breed” he had seen was NOT actually native wild fowl, which Dr. Bustos had told him they were.

(See my article Where did the wild chickens go? If you’re into chicken history and genetics. Wild chickens are still around.)

These chickens were actually the result of Dr. Bustos’ many years of selective breeding.

Castello corrected himself a few years later but the damage was done and the mythos of these birds was begun.

To this day there is still much incomplete and just plain wrong information circulating about these breeds.

Things are going to get crazier and weirder.

a blue ameraucana hen stands on straw inside her coop

Much investigation has been done into the blue egg gene these chickens possess and it is of CHINESE origin!

There is debate whether this virus originated spontaneously in two places — South America and Asia. Or whether the origin of the Chilean blue egg laying chicken is somehow Asian.

Fascinating stuff.

References & Studies:

  1. Unscrambling the genetics of the chicken’s ‘blue’ egg
  2. Endogenous Retrovirus EAV-HP Linked to Blue Egg Phenotype in Mapuche Fowl

Numerous varieties of Araucana would then be imported into the USA by a Mr. Keller of the Pratt Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania: tufted, rumpless, bearded, tailed etc.

They were all mixed up breeds and the genetics will never be known for certain today but these birds would be used in the development of the Ameraucana.

What is the point?

This is a tufted and rumpless Araucana, note the ear tufts, and the similarity and differences.

Lethal Genetics

Well you see, throughout history, the Araucana has always been a delicate and scarce bird.

This is because the genetic traits it carries aren’t always favorable and have resulted in an array of complications.

The Araucana is known to carry a gene that is lethal and often kills chickens before they hatch.

This is called the tufting gene colloquially.

This is the same gene, however, that gives the Araucana its tufted ears; if both the mating hen and rooster carry the ‘tuft’ gene, then their chicks will perish in their shell.

In the 1920s, the Araucana was brought to the United States and the Ameraucana was first bred at Pratt Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania; they were bred for their beautiful blue eggs, but also to eliminate the lethal gene that had become an issue among Araucana chickens.

Araucana’s were bred at this time by combining several different breeds, and as a result, the Ameraucana was born.

It is a similar breed to the Araucana chicken, but because of the breeding process, has different traits (and no lethal gene.) However, many countries still accept the two breeds as being one and the same.

The Ameraucana chicken is recognized by the American Poultry Association and has been since 1984. Today, the Ameraucana is a popular breed of chicken best
recognized for its beautiful blue egg production and friendly temperament.

profile view of a black and white ameraucana hen on grass

Personality & Temperament

These birds are also known for their overall friendly, docile temperaments and
curious nature, making them a great choice for first-time chicken owners or those
with children.

close up of a womans striped apron that is full of chicken eggs of all sorts of colors

Cold Hardy

Ameraucana chickens are very cold hardy. The small pea combs and wattles mean they are not as prone to frostbite as some breeds.

I use and recommend the Deep Litter System to make my flock especially safe and comfortable during our freezing Canadian winters that last forever.

See also my articles on chicken winter care: 10 Steps To Winterize Your Chicken Coop, Feeding Free-Range Chickens In Winter, and see How Cold Is Too Cold For Chickens?

a bunch of yellow baby chicks outside on grass

Where To Find Chicks

I’m a big fan of finding smaller, reputable, breeders that are passionate about their breed of choice.

Your local online chicken groups are great resources for recommendations and reviews.

Start there.

(And also check out the Ameraucana Breeders Club.)

Free Range

Your Ameraucana will happily free-range and find itself some food if allowed.

This quality makes them excellent low-maintenance birds that don’t require as much supplemental feed in the warmer months.

See my articles on this topic for more information: How To Safely Free-Range Chickens.

three hens inside their coop

Final Thoughts

The Ameraucana is a popular purebred American breed and can be found in many parts of the United States and Canada.

They are considered to be great low-maintenance, friendly birds and quite
agreeable and social.

If you’re looking for a beautiful and productive bird to add to your flock, the Ameraucana chicken is a great choice.

FAQ

Are Ameraucanas good chickens?

The Ameraucana is a great chicken breed that lays up to 250 blue eggs annually. They are generally friendly, aware, great with children and other pets or livestock. The Ameraucana is a great choice for a suburban backyard or homestead/acreage situation.

What is the difference between Easter Egger and Ameraucana?

An Ameraucana is a recognized purebred chicken that always lays BLUE eggs and must conform to certain appearance and other standards as set out by the American Poultry Association. An Easter Egger is a mixed breed mutt that frequently has Ameraucana genetics somewhere in its lineage but it is not a breed. Easter eggers can mature to lay any color of egg, often blue, but it is not guaranteed.

How long do Ameraucana chickens live?

The Ameraucana is a hardy breed and it will live anywhere from 7-10 years assuming it’s nutritional and other needs are met and that it doesn’t fall victim to predation or disease.

Are Ameraucanas good egg layers?

Ameraucanas will lay from 200-250 beautiful blue eggs annually making them excellent layers. The eggs are medium to large in size.

Do all Ameraucanas lay blue eggs?

YES all true Ameraucanas must lay blue eggs. If you have a chicken that is not laying blue eggs but is claimed to be a purebred Ameraucana — it is very decidedly not.

What’s New At the Homestead

Follow my story on Instagram!

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

The Ultimate Guide to Homestead & Backyard Chicken Keeping 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 Comments

  1. Interesting, informative, all n one . ))) I’m on my second batch of chicken raising . Not much luck w da first batch . (( However I now have 33 left outta 45 maybe; around this # ??? I’ve learned a lot like baby chicks getting constipated of all things on the wood chips for bedding . I have barred rocks, easter egger mutts lol n possibly Isa browns 🤷🏼‍♂️ who knows getting them from rural king ??? I actually bought them to help people ifins times get tough . “SHTF’ I’ve gave away every egg/dozen I’ve received from my feather babies . I also learned to dust them w diatomaceous for mites . 👍 We had 3 days of an artic blast here n SE Oh a while back n all my chickens stopped laying . I was up to 18-22 eggs a day . I purchased them the second, third n forth wk of March putting them at almost a yr old . Sooooooo I put a light n their pen; dusted them all n now I’m getting 8-11 eggs a day . Also putting all natural backyard chicken Zyfend A n their water for possible worms ? Thank u Sooooooo much for more knowledge on breeds etc . 🤗
    Much Love
    Perry

    1. That’s a pretty great reason to get chickens. We’re adding a bunch of new breeds this year to test out too!

  2. You Quote for annual egg laying total does not line up with another article of yours that is specifically about the Ameraucana breed You quote up to 250 here yet only 150 in the breed specific article.

    1. Sorry, you quote 150 in your Blue Layers article for the Ameraucana breed. It’s a big difference. I wonder what is the truly average for this breed.

      1. That is my dumb typo. Thanks for pointing it out to me so that I can fix it on the other post. The Ameraucana (according to the dedicated breeders who know) will lay a pretty wide range. That range will generally be from 200-250. Some birds will lay less, but that is going to depend on genetics and bad genetics are pretty widespread within the breed.