What is an Araucana chicken? Any chicken that lays a blue egg, right? No exactly, it turns out. The Araucana is a distinct breed, with a set of breed identifiers that determine what is (and is not) a member of this class of birds.
This unusual breed sports ear tufts and no tail. Officially, those in the know refer to this trait as “rumpless.” Tufts are a feather or group of feathers coming out of the sides of the bird’s face around the ear area. They can be one-sided or bilateral (which is preferred).
The Araucana chicken breed also lacks a tailbone and oil (or preen) gland.
A Chilean Chicken
The breed, considered rare in the U.S., originated in Chile.
So if they’re rare, why do you see them for sale in some hatchery catalogs? Decades ago, anything laying a blue or green egg was called an “Araucana.” But this original layer of blue eggs gave way to other blue-egg-laying breeds such as Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers in recent years.
Today, some hatcheries still call their colored-egg layers “Araucanas.” It’s a misnomer, though. You can only purchase true Araucanas through independent breeders.
The American Poultry Association approves five colors:
- Golden Duckwing
- Silver Duckwing
- Black Breasted Red
Aracaunas can also be found in other “unapproved” colors such as blue, mottled and cuckoo. A bantam size also exists, with hens weighing 1.5 to 1.75 pounds, and roosters topping out just under 2 pounds.
Araucanas tolerate confinement well, making them ideal for small homesteads. They are also good foragers and fliers and are predator-savvy, making them fine free-range birds.
Hens make dedicated mothers. Roosters are generally nonaggressive, but good flock protectors, and generally assist in the raising of the chicks.
— Trisha Oliba, Araucana Club of America (www.araucana.net)
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.