Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world. Yet from this lesson thou will learn to avoid the frog’s foolish ambition of swelling to rival the bigness of the ox. –Miguel di Cervantes
Sabrina found our first green egg on St. Patrick’s day..I drove the dozen eggs down to our neighbor Bill. The dozen included the green egg that was laid by our Ameraucana chicken named Ivy. He used to have chickens and he said that Ameraucana’s lay late but lay longer than other chicken breeds. The assortment of colors and types of eggs in the carton were so fun to see. I did not have to drive to Whole Foods to pick out my beautiful eggs. They were right there in my backyard. Just amazing. I am looking forward to receiving our Ameraucana chicks on April 13th. We have been learning a little history and information about these interesting and fun chickens:
The Ameraucana is a breed of chicken thought to have been developed in the United States, though it is not clear exactly where they were developed (the Ameraucana Standard chicken is often classified under “All Other” as place of origin). The name is a portmanteau term of American and Araucana (a related breed). Ameraucanas come in both a large and bantam variety. Eight colors are officially recognized for poultry shows by the American Poultry Association: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten and White. There are several project colors, including Lavender.
Ameraucanas are similar to Araucana chickens because both have pea combs and lay blue shelled eggs, but they have many differences and are completely different breeds. Ameraucana traits include full tails, muffs, beards, and slate or black legs depending on the variety. Bantam cocks weigh 30 ounces and bantam hens weigh 26 ounces while large fowl cocks weigh 6½ pounds and large fowl hens weigh 5½ pounds.
Confusion with Easter Egger chickens
The Ameraucana Breeders Club defines an Easter Egg chicken, or Easter Egger, as any chicken that possesses the blue egg gene, but doesn’t fully meet any breed description as defined in the APA standards. Further, even if a bird (that possesses the blue egg gene) meets an APA standard breed description, but doesn’t meet a variety description or breed true at least 50% of the time it is considered an Easter Egg chicken.
The American Poultry Association’s American Standard of Perfection contains breed and variety descriptions of all recognized standard breed poultry in North America. This means if your bird does not meet a color requirement, it is in Easter Egger. However, it is highly unlikely to see an Easter Egger which meets all APA standards yet doesn’t have the correct color. They are almost always mutt birds, or those descended from the Quechua.
While many hatcheries claim to sell “Ameraucanas”, “Americanas”, or “Araucanas”, nearly none of them do. Most sell mutt Easter Eggers.
Ameraucanas were bred from Easter Eggers, a mixed non-standard breed derived from breeding the native South American Araucana with Old World varieties. The APA officially accepted Ameraucana as standard breeds in 1984.
The characteristic muff and beard of the Ameraucana are present in U.K. Araucana as these traits are present in the Mapuche and Quechua de Artes founder stock imported into Europe from the Falkland Islands. The fully feathered faces of the founder stock are of vital importance as they insulate the birds against the frigid cold of southern coastal South America. Winds from Antarctica bring the temperatures to below zero for months at a time. Blue egg laying chickens brought to the Falklands by Argentinians, traded from Mapuche and Quechua speaking Indians, were later exported from the Falkland Islands by British guano and fishing fleets. The Ameraucana is descended of U.K. Araucanas brought into North America during the World Fair in Toronto and Montreal‘s 1967 Expo. Molecular data retrieved from specimens of known provenance in the Falklands, U.K., Shetland Isles and Canada, proved to be closely related. Consequently, the Ameraucana is probably closer genetically to the South American founders than the North American Araucana. In about 1976 a group of people imported some Chilean Araucanas. At least one of these people kept his flock breeding only among themselves. Chicks from their blue eggs looked similar to the British tailed Araucanas and the Ameraucanas, however most do not meet the standards of those breeds. They resemble Falkland island birds, and are descendants of the founder birds of Chile (Quechua).
This morning I went out to give the kids their bottles at about 9:00 (Daylight savings time has bumped up our time by an hour. I like having my tea before I head out there). It was so nice to sit with Areida in particular. I truly got hugs and kisses for a good 5 minutes. She wraps her neck around mine and then kisses my nose. She plops herself down in my lap, and looks up at me. All of that love is not taken for granted. I soak up those moments in my life and learn that those truly are the best ones. Unplanned, free, nature based, healing and without detriment to anyone else.
Last night we had some visitors and I found it interesting to see that Luna and Areida ran over to us for reassurance. Sometimes I think of friendly goats as just friendly to everyone and anyone. Last night they clearly knew that we were their people. They were friendly but much more cautious. Nice to know our goats can pick us out of a crowd.