How to Spot the Difference between Ameraucana, Araucana, and Easter Egger Chickens
Araucana, Ameraucana, or Easter Egger? It doesn’t take an expert to figure out the difference if you just know what to look for. You can’t avoid thinking of the song by Ella Fitzgerald when these perky American chicken breeds are mentioned. Well, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.
You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.
Let’s call the whole thing off.
All of these three breeds lay the colored blue or green eggs, but there are key differences – especially if you want to take them to show. The Araucana and Ameraucana are both recognized breeds. The Easter Egger is not an APA recognized breed, but it is still a breed. Regardless of their APA status, all make excellent flock additions. Ultimately, for most chicken keepers, the breed varieties do not really matter. But breeders and poultry exhibitionists need to be aware of the difference!
What is an Araucana Chicken?
The Araucana is the tufted and rumpless bird hailing from Chile. This is the chicken that turned up a bit of a ruckus in historical circles. Also called the South American Rumpless, some scholars theorized this breed to be indigenous to the Americas. The chicken is named after the Araucana people the Mapuche. Two other breeds originating locally include the Crested Mapuche and the Quechua.
The colors accepted by the APA for show are:
White, Black, Silver Duckwing, Golden Duckwing and Black Breasted Red.
These whimsical fowl are reminiscent of bird drawings found in a fanciful children’s book. The males (cocks) weigh in at 5 pounds and the females (hens) at 4 pounds. The Araucana must have a pea comb, ear-tufts (not muffs), be rump-less (no tail) and lay blue eggs.
If you have a breeding flock, you want to keep the birds without ear tufts. If you breed ear-tufted cocks with ear-tufted hens, you will significantly reduce the viability of the hatch. The dominant ear tuft gene, when presented in two copies, prevents viable hatches. Few modern Araucanas have the double copy tuft gene because of this, but breeding two tufted birds increases the inheritance of the double gene leading to affected offspring dying before hatch.
The Araucana comes in both the standard and the bantam varieties.
What is an Ameraucana Chicken?
Another purebred variety, the Ameraucana, is recognized as an APA Standard
Bred in an assortment of colors, the varieties of Ameraucana that you may find are Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White.
If you want to be sure that you are getting true Ameraucana or Araucana you will need to know the traits. Ameraucanas will have a pea comb, muffs, and beard. Unlike the Araucana, they will have a tail. They will also have blue legs with white bottomed feet. Be aware that many hybrid Easter Eggers could also exhibit most of these traits, however they will not breed true and their egg colors will vary.
What is the Easter Egger Chicken?
So what are Easter Eggers then? Easter Eggers are going to be what you can find from most commercial or small hobby hatcheries. They will often exhibit many or all features of the Ameraucana, but they will not be bred for specific color. Easter Eggers will also not breed true, and their egg colors can vary depending on the breeding stock. eFowl has listed the Easter Eggers from Cackle Hatchery in the past, that are bred to exhibit beards, muffs, and pea combs. The Easter Eggers from Cackle Hatchery are not bred for any specific feather or egg coloration.
However, they are bred to be excellent layers, and they will lay either blue, green, olive, pink, tan, or other similarly colored eggs. If you aren’t interested in showing APA Standard Araucana or Ameraucana, and you simply want to add some muffed and bearded colorful egg layers to your flock, the Easter Eggers are an excellent choice. For catalog poultry companies and hatcheries, Easter Eggers are generally going to be the most popular backyard chickens breed. On eFowl’s marketplace, they are consistently the most searched and purchased chicken breed.
What to expect from these breeds?
Everything! These birds are the border collies of the poultry world. Even if they didn’t lay those amazing colored eggs, their lively and extroverted personalities are truly endearing…and irresistible. They also possess a satiny, soft billowy plumage. As an added perk – these birds LOVE to snuggle and cuddle (be sure to wash your hands before and after!) and they will ask you to play with them! Affectionate and “cute”, they have a remarkable intelligence that won’t be missed.
Your Ameraucanas or Easter Eggers will problem solve, talk to you and directly insert themselves into whatever you are doing. They exhibit the backyard chickens traits that you are looking for – egg production, personality, uniqueness, and interactiveness. If you want a chicken that will be your kids’ best friend, that will play with you and be a total flock clown – get some Ameraucanas or Easter Eggers.
The behavior of the Easter Egger, Ameraucanas and Araucana Chickens
Because of their high energy and sharp minds, some cockerels and pullets go through a mouthy phase (they can also be feather-pickers). Mouthiness entails random picking, shoe chasing and curious nipping of you and other flock mates. The phase passes, you just have to live through it – do not discipline the birds as this is just their extreme intelligence making them inspect their world with their beaks (they don’t have hands).
Send on your tales and no-tail tales of reckless romping with your colored egg layers. We want to hear from Araucana and Ameraucana owners. Let others know why they NEED some of these feisty feather fellows in their flock – these are truly breeds to love!
Note from Austin, eFowl’s Founder, regarding Ameraucanas, Aracaunas, and Easter Eggers (added 08/16/2017)
When we were running eFowl as a catalog dropshipping business (as opposed to a marketplace business we are today), the Easter Egger from Cackle Hatchery was consistently our most popular breed. This was true every year in operation. (Generally, the most popular breed for a hatchery or catalog is going to be the Jumbo Cornish Cross, but our backyard chickens focus maintained the Easter Egger as the top breed. They are the number one breed for backyard chicken owners for the reasons that this author, Andrea M. has described. Cackle Hatchery was (and still is) a consistent, reputable, and caring source of the Easter Eggers.
You may see a breed listed as Americanas, which is really just a patriotic play on the Easter Eggers. These are not meant to be marketed as Ameraucanas (the vowels in the spelling are super important). If you see a large scale farm or hatchery listing Ameraucanas or Aracauana, definitely read reviews and assess the breed and attempt to determine if it is actually just Easter Eggers. In our year’s operating eFowl as a catalog business, we came across a few hatcheries that listed Ameraucanas (I never recall seeing an Aracauna), but these were most likely simply Easter Eggers. We did not feel comfortable marketing a hatchery’s Ameraucana breeds as we did not have enough insight and control as to whether these were bred in a true manner to the APA standards and technicalities of the Ameraucana.
Where to buy Ameraucanas
As Cackle Hatchery has accommodated the growth of backyard chickens most effectively of the hatcheries that I know of, they have recently listed a few colors of Ameraucanas (I believe in the 2017 season). If any large scale hatchery has the processes, dedication, and care to cultivating breeding flocks to produce this breed according to APA standards, it is Jeff Smith and his team at Cackle. While I’ve never marketed or inspected this product personally, the reviews are good, and Cackle Hatchery is likely your best source of Ameraucana Chickens.
Where have you found reputable breeders of Araucana and Ameraucanas?
Please let us know in the comments what your experience with any of these breeds has been. Does anyone know of a solid hatchery that produces the Araucana or the Ameraucana? If so, please let us know in the comments! Also, please share this article on Facebook with your friends! We want to establish a dialogue with farmers and backyard poultry owners about where the best places to find any of these popular breeds – whether it is the Ameraucana, the Araucana, or the Easter Egger (or even the Americana), these are some of the pivotal breeds that have led to the resurgence of heritage and pasture raised poultry in the United States.