Araucana Chicken
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The Araucana Chicken, also known as the South American Rumpless Chicken, is an unusual, dual purpose/utility Chicken that is classified with the Other Standard Chicken Breeds and not in one of the 5 main classes of chicken. The Araucanas’ ancestors were purportedly first bred by the Araucanian Indians of Chile from two South American breeds.

There is debate concerning the origin of the Araucana Chicken. One camp claims that the Araucanas’ ancestors were imported to South America from Polynesia before the Age of European Exploration. The other camp claims that the Araucana Chicken is the result of breeding that occurred in South America (likely near Chile’s Arauco Penninsula) after the Spanish introduced the chicken to South America. Both sides have published papers, but the answer will likely have to await “further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia,” according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

However, when the studies are completed, they will all likely confirm that the natives of the Arauco Penninsula cross-bred the Collonca Chicken (a rumpless, clean-faced, blue-egg-layer) and the Quetro Chicken (a rumped & tailed, pinkish-brown-egg-layer with ear-tufts). The Quechua Chickens and Mapuche Chickens, which are found in many South American villages, resemble the Araucana Chicken in many respects, except for the ear tufts and rumpless, featherless tail. They also resemble the Ameraucana Chicken, which is often confused with the Araucana Chicken. Again, the difference between the two is seen primarily in the Araucana Chicken being rumpless and having ear tufts or rings. The Ameraucana Chicken breed has a rump and tail and has muffs and a beard on its face.

We do know that the Araucana Chicken came to the United States around 1920 or 1930. Since then it has been preserved as a historic but rare breed. Many unscrupulous breeders try to pass off other mongrel chickens as either Ameraucana or Araucana Chickens because they lay blue eggs. These mongrels are called "Easter Eggers" and are a novelty, not a breed.

Production

Today, the Araucana Chicken is known for unique ear tufts, and for laying medium-sized, blue/green eggs (about 180 - 200 a year). The Araucana Chicken is a medium-sized breed, with cocks weighing around 6 lbs - 7 lbs (2.7 kg - 3.2 kg) and hens weighing 5 lbs - 6 lbs (2.3 kg - 2.7 kg).

Varieties

There are two worldwide standards for the Araucana Chicken, the North American standard and the Global standard and the standards disagree on the definition of an Araucana Chicken. In general, the Araucana Chicken should be a medium to large-sized chicken that lays blue/green eggs, has no wattles, red ear lobes, a reduced pea comb and a small crest. They should also have feather ear tufts, muffs and beards.

The tougher North American standard also calls on the bird to have a shortened and featherless tail (a feature called rumplessness), as well as ear tufts (like feathered ear rings). The North American standard of the Araucana is harder to breed because the rumplessness can cause shortened rears, which can inhibit natural breeding. Rumplessness is also an inconsistent genetic trait. Some Araucana chicks will be hatched with a rump and even with a tail.

The other difficulty within the North American standard is that the dominant gene which carries the trait for the ear rings is lethal and causes a high percentage of Araucana chicks early death at around 18 - 21 days incubation. Because of this lethal gene, the breed does not “breed true” and is hard to propagate.

Nutrition

Blue Eggs, were originally reported to be lower in Cholesterol and higher in nutritional value, but that has been disproven. Blue Eggs have the same nutritional content as other eggs.