Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Araucana

Araucana
The Araucana is a most interesting breed of chicken, one that had three very distinguishing traits-- blue eggs, no tail, and ear tufts. They originated in Chile, and there are numerous theories on how they got the traits that they have, including crossbreeding with pheasants, crossing with European breeds, and genetic mutation.

The blue eggs of the Araucana are not unique among chickens, but they are rare. Only a handful of breeds produce them. One of those other breeds, the Collonca, was a direct ancestor to the Araucana. There is also a theory that way back, Chilean chickens crossed with Pheasants, and that some of the hens remained fertile. The blue eggs were still rare on the whole in late 19th century Chile, but were grew more and more common only a few decades later.

The Araucanas ear tufts are another distinguishing trait, one that may have arisen from a simple genetic mutation. It is also seen in a few other South American birds, including the Quetro, another direct ancestor. This mutation does have downsides-- it causes a higher percentage of fertilized eggs to be non-viable.

Finally, Araucanas have no tails. This trait was most likely bred for because a tailless chicken was harder for a predator to catch! They are sometimes referred to as the South American Rumpless, due to this lack of tail.

Status : Domesticated
Location :  Chile
Size : Weight up to 7lbs (3.2kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves --   Order : Galliformes
Family : Phasianidae -- Genus : Gallus -- Species : G. gallus

2 comments:

  1. Another interesting thing about the Araucana is that the Americauna (one of the most popular pet chicken breeds) was bred out of them. Americauna lays blue eggs too, but has a tail and a feather "beard" instead of ear tufts.

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  2. Your history on this breed is incorrect. The breed is an American created breed that was made using South American landraces including the Collonca's and Quetro. There are no standards for the South American types so they are not actually breeds per se. The Araucana has a Standard of Perfection in the APA and for the bantams, the ABA. There was never known crossing with pheasants. This mistake was assumed because of the blue egg, some pheasants laid blue so it was "ass"umed they were crossed. Now we know, through genetics, that the blue egg gene from the South American birds came as a mutation caused by a virus. The Ameraucana was not "bred out of Araucana's", rather they were developing along at the same time and the breeds split into 2 separate breeds with their own standards. Easter Eggers are often called both Araucana and Ameraucana but are neither. They resemble the Ameraucana more closely, yet they remain a mixed bred of that type with no particular standard and they can lay most any color egg from brown to pink, blue and green. For anyone interested in learning more about the breed, please visit the clubs websites. The tuft gene is a lethal gene and responsible for a 25% death in the shell before hatching for those chicks who got a tuft gene from both the hen and cock so breeding clean faced to tufted is not uncommon in this breed. Clean faced Araucana that are rumpless and correct in every other way are excellent to use in the breeding pen and can also produce tufted chicks, if bred to a tufted mate. Unfortunately, the clean faced do not meet the standard for the breed and cannot be shown but they are important to keeping the genetic pool diverse and healthy.

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