The Araucana, also known as a South American Rumpless, is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. The Araucana is often confused with other fowl, especially the Ameraucana and Easter Egger chickens, but has several unusual characteristics which distinguish it. They lay blue eggs, have feather tufts near their ears, and are rumpless.
The ancestors of the modern Araucana chicken were purportedly first bred by the Araucanians Indians
-- hence the name "Araucana." The Araucana as we know it today is a hybrid of two South American
breeds: the Collonca
(a naturally blue-egg laying, rumpless
, clean-faced chicken) and the Quetros
(a pinkish-brown egg layer that is tailed and has ear-tufts
). The Collonca male and female are very similar, with very few secondary sexual characteristics like comb, wattles or tail coverts to distinguish them. Naturally, after centuries of introgression with other South American races, for example, Quechua, Huapi, Ona and Mapuche, South American Indian villages Colloncas are more often than not, composites. The Quetro or Quetero is also nearly combless but the sexes are markedly dichromatic. The male of both Colloncas and Quetero have unusual voices. The Quetero has a multi-syllabilic laughing crow. Colloncas have a slightly musical crow. Muffs and beards are present in most South American domestic fowl. The European equivalent of the North American show standard variety Araucana is what one comes across in South American villages. Quechua and Mapuche do not have tufts and resemble the Ameraucana. The Quechua is larger, and more powerfully built. It is shaped more like a game fowl than the Mapuche which is smaller, lighter and less domesticated in the sense that it is a semi-feral bird while the Quechua is a domestic bird reared for meat and eggs.
The current world wide Araucana standard (except North America) indicates a medium to large sized chicken with a tail that lays bluish-green eggs. Specific features are feather ear tufts, muffs and beards, with a very much reduced comb, and a complete absence of wattles.
The current North American
standard calls for a chicken that is rumpless (missing their last vertebrae
and lacking a tail), possesses ear-tufts (feathers that grow out from near the birds' ears), and lays blue eggs. In the United States and Canada, muffs, beards, and tails are all disqualifications.
Araucanas are often confused with two other types of colored-egg-laying chickens: Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers.
The Ameraucana should also lay blue eggs, but unlike the Araucana it has a tail and possesses muffs and a beard, which are quite different from the tufts of the Araucana. Muffs and beards are fluffy poofs that grow on the cheeks and chin of the bird, whereas tufts are actual feathers that grow from fleshy lobes called peduncles on either side of the birds' face. Tufts are associated with a lethal gene, which makes them difficult to attain.
The Easter Egg Chicken is not an actual breed; the term refers to any bird that lays colored eggs. The vast majority of birds sold as "Araucanas" or "Ameraucanas" are actually neither. Instead, they are mixed breeds with no APA (American Poultry Association) Standard that lay colored eggs, ranging from bluish and greenish to pinkish-brown, and sometimes even tan, gray or white.
The Araucana's eggs are not more nutritious than eggs of other colors (despite popular myth), but the birds are reliable layers of medium-sized eggs. The Araucana, if hand-raised specifically, is extremely well-tempered, calm and trusting.
There has long been debate whether araucanas were bred from chickens brought by Europeans to South America after Columbus or rather arose from chickens brought directly over the Pacific Ocean from someplace nearer to all chickens' presumed ancestral home in Southeast Asia. If araucanas predate the Europeans in South America, their presence implies pre-Columbian trans-Pacific
contacts between Asia and South America. In 2007, an international team of scientists reported the results of analysis of chicken bones found on the Arauco Peninsula in south central Chile, and their results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States . The bones dated to between 1304 and 1424 A.D. The DNA revealed links with chicken remains from prehistoric Polynesia, particularly Tonga and American Samoa. These findings support the theory that ancient Polynesian seafarers
visited the New World before Columbus' arrival in the Americas and brought the ancestors of modern araucanas with them.
The APA Araucana belong to the following Poultry Class AOSB "All Other Standard Breed " while the ABA belongs to the following class "All Other Comb Clean Leg". In Great Britain, the PCGB (Poultry Club of Great Britain) classifies it as Light, Soft Feather.
The colours recognized by the APA/ABA/PCGB are :
The APA recognizes 5 colours "Black , White , Black Breasted Red , Silver Duckwing , Golden Duckwing "
The ABA recognizes 6 colours " Black , White , Black Breasted Red , Blue , Buff , Silver"
The PCGB recognizes 12 colours " Lavender, Blue, Black/Red, Silver Duckwing, Golden Duckwing, Blue/Red, Pyle, Crele, Spangled, Cuckoo, Black and White.
Araucana, Ameraucana or Easter Egger?
When the Araucana was first introduced to breeders worldwide, in the mid-20th century, it was quickly realized that the genetics that produced tufts also caused chick mortality. As it turns out, two copies of the gene causes nearly 100% mortality shortly before hatching. One copy causes about 20% mortality. The tufted gene is dominant however. Because no living araucana possesses two copies of the tufted gene, breeding any two tufted birds leads to half of the resulting brood being tufted with one copy of the gene, a quarter being clean faced with no copy of the gene, and a quarter of the brood dead in the shell having received two copies of the gene.
In the decades to follow, most breeders took one of two tactics - either to preserve the old style of bird, or to breed out the tufts while increasing productivity.
In 1976, the first standards for the breed were accepted by the APA, conforming to the traditional style. This was followed, in 1984, by a second standard for the "improved" variety.
The gene for blue eggs is dominant, so the term "Easter Egger" is used to describe birds of mixed breeding that produce such eggs. Unfortunately, these mixed breeds are often incorrectly labeled as Araucanas or Ameraucanas, and marketed to backyard poultry hobbyists who aren't aware of the difference.
In short, the differences are as follows:
USA & Canada Araucana - Tufts (lethal allele), rumpless, blue eggs, green legs and yellow skin (with exceptions).
US Ameraucana - Beards and muffs (NO lethal gene), with tail feathers, blue eggs, blue legs and white skin.
British, Irish, New Zealand, Asian, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, French, Spanish, Bellarus, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Argentinian, Chilean, South African, Pacific Islands, Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, Arabic Nations, Indian, Pakistan, Nepalese and Australian Araucana - Beards, muffs and crest, with tail feathers, blue eggs, slate legs and grey/white skin.
Easter Egger - Variable traits.
- http://www.araucana.net/ (USA Araucana Club website)
- http://www.browneggblueegg.com (they have an Araucana standard)
- http://www.araucana.org.uk (UK Araucana club website, with Araucana standard)
- http://www.ameraucana.org/ (Ameraucana Breeders Club - A website dedicated to the Ameraucana breed)
- http://www.mypetchicken.com/Ameraucana-B5.aspx - Pictures and information on Ameraucanas
- http://members.shaw.ca/Araucana/ (Araucana the Main Roost)
- http://members.shaw.ca/CanadianAraucanaSociety/ (Canadian Araucana Society)