When it comes to poultry farming, there are so many types of birds to rear for different productive reasons, but we will focus on the Wheaten Ameraucana today. Let’s start with a brief history of this rare breed of chicken.
Brief history of the Wheaten Ameraucana
The Wheaten Ameraucana comes from a Chilean breed known as Araucana chickens. The original breed had some characteristics that affected the Araucana genes, but they laid blue eggs. So, the Wheaten Ameraucana was developed from it, with the aim of maintaining the ability to lay blue eggs, but without those lethal characteristics the parent Araucana breed is known for. There are different strains of Araucanas, and the Wheaten Ameraucana chickens are bred from these different strains.
From the 1960s, through the 1970s, poultry farmers in the United States have been practicing this process, but it was not until the mid-1980s that the American Poultry Association (APA) officially recognized the Wheaten Ameraucana as a breed. The name Ameraucana, comes from two words: America and Araucana. It was named to sound like American Araucana, due to the fact that it is recognized in the United States as a separate breed, but Ameraucana sounds perfect, since it joins both America and the parent breed Araucana into one word. In some countries like Australia for example, the Ameraucana, Easter eggs and Araucana chickens are not recognized as different breeds, all are categorized together as one breed.
Major characteristics of Wheaten Ameraucana that differentiate it from other breeds
We already know that the Wheaten Ameraucana shares similar features with other breeds of fowls that lay blue eggs. So, if you are in the market for Wheaten Ameraucanas, you could easily get confused when trying to tell which is which. Sometimes, you may even come across spelling variations, which will make things more complicated. Misspellings like “Americauna” for example, could have you buying Easter Eggers instead of Wheaten Ameraucanas. So be careful when you go out to find them, make sure the distributor spells them correctly.
Here are some features that clearly distinguish the Wheaten Ameraucanas from other breeds, take note of them so you don’t buy the wrong chickens.
- Color of their eggs
The Wheaten Ameraucana is known to lay blue, and sometimes, green colored eggs. The same goes for the parent Araucana breeds, they also lay blue and green eggs, but the Easter Eggers lay eggs in more color variety. They lay in green, blue, white and brown colors. So, judging by the color of the eggs they produce, you can narrow a chicken down to Araucana and Ameraucana breed, then use other features to strike out one and be certain of what you have.
- Color of the legs
This is another easy way to tell which breed of chicken you are looking at. The color of the legs is not the same for Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers and Araucanas. For the Easter Eggers, they have no particular color one can use to identify their legs, so just focus on the other two breeds when using this feature to distinguish. The Araucanas have three known leg colors, so if you’re looking at this breed, you will see a pair of yellow, willow, or black legs. The Ameraucanas are more precise when it comes to leg color, they are simply slate blue.
- Shape of the body
From the body shape, you can tell if a chicken breed is Ameraucana, Araucana or Easter Egg. Ameraucanas are known for big and full feathered chests. The Easter Eggers have a thin body frame, while the Araucanas have round chests, which are also full of feathers.
- Nature of tail
The Araucanas have no tails, but the Ameraucanas have. The Easter Eggers also have tails but there are no exact features for them, this is because they come in varieties.
- Nature of the face
The Ameraucanas have roughly full faces with beards that are thick. They also have ear muffs. Araucanas have ear tufts and their faces are relatively smooth. Easter Eggers don’t really have distinct features here, since there is no standard.
- Type of comb
Ameraucanas and Araucanas have pea combs, but the Easter Eggers have no standards here as well. From these characteristics, we can tell that the Easter Eggers seem to have less standard features when compared to the other two. It is the oldest of all three breeds, but has no official recognition from the APA (American Poultry Association) as a breed.
Other features of Wheaten Ameraucanas
These chickens are bred for two basic reasons; their blue/green colored eggs and for exhibition purposes. The bantam size wheaten Ameraucanas weigh between 680 to 820 grams, while the large fowl sizes weigh between 2 to 2.5 kilograms.
They are very lively chickens with a healthy social behavior. They can live well around other chickens, and are naturally friendly to humans, but don’t try to hold them if they show resistance. The hens are known to be more sociable than the roosters, so if you’re holding an ameraucana that is getting aggressive, it is mostly likely a rooster and you should put it down immediately. One thing that easily makes Ameraucanas hostile is unfamiliar situations, when they are with strange people or strange chickens, they can get aggressive, it is a self defense mechanism.
Ameraucanas are known to have a low broodiness level and are easy to care for. They need a lot of space so they can feel free to move about, so you should secure enough space if you want to rear them.
The eggs laid by wheaten ameraucanas are average to large in size, and blue or green in color. All things being equal, an average ameraucana can produce up to 200 eggs per year. When well cared for, these birds can be very lucrative to rear. They don’t have a specified life span, it is still under study, but they are generally known to have the lifespan of other birds, which is between five to ten years. Ameraucanas are also bred for meat production purposes, and it takes about one year before it is mature enough to start producing meat.
Reasons why you should rear wheaten Ameraucanas
- They are meat producers, but majorly egg layers. It’s true that they take long time to produce meat, but the results are worth the wait, this further increases the commercial value of Wheaten Ameraucanas, since they are good for both meat and eggs (dual purpose).
- They are relatively easy to breed because of their obedient nature. They are not aggressive to familiar faces and caregivers. If you feed and treat them well, you will enjoy their cooperative behavior.
With respect to feeding, Wheaten Ameraucanas are not picky, but to get the best out of them, it is ideal to feed them organic foods, especially if you are planning to harness their dual-purpose nature.
- They lay beautiful blue eggs that will be highly sought after when you let people know you have them for sale or exhibition. They also lay green eggs, which are also highly sought after. These eggs, no matter their color, have the same nutritional values as the regular color of eggs. Wheaten Ameraucanas lay all year round.
- They are quiet birds. You won’t be hearing too much noise from your farm unless there is something giving these birds discomfort. Despite being sweet in nature, they can be defensively aggressive when they feel threatened. To enjoy their quiet nature, make sure they have enough space to roam about, they will feel safe and remain quiet most of the time.
Ameraucana chickens categorized by colors
These birds come in different colors. There are nine recognized Ameraucana colors, which are white, black, wheaten, blue, silver, brown red, blue wheaten, lavender, and self-blue. Knowing these colors and understanding each of them will make it easy for you to distinguish this breed from the others that are similar to it, like the Araucana for example.
- White Ameraucanas
The white wheaten Ameraucana chicken is completely white in color. No matter the size of the bird (large fowl or bantam), the white Ameraucanas do not have any other colors on their bodies. This holds true for the hens as well as the roosters.
- Black Ameraucanas
Just like the white color variety stated above, black Ameraucanas maintain the black color all over their bodies no matter their size. Rooster and hen alike.
- Wheaten Ameraucanas
This color is commonly seen in both bantam chickens as well as the big fowls. The hens and roosters do not carry the same appearance in this color category.
For the hens, you will notice their face and fluff have white feathers, while the tip of their wings and the feather on their heads have majorly black color with white details. The rest of their bodies are beige with white details too.
For the roosters, the colors are on the darker side. A darkish orange color covers their saddles, the tip of their wings, and their hackles. The rest of their bodies are black.
- Blue Ameraucanas
As the name implies, the major parts of the blue Ameraucana’s body is blue in color. But the feathers on their faces are not blue, instead, it is light gray. This holds true for the hens, but there are some differences between the hens and the roosters of this category of Ameraucanas.
The roosters are not covered in light blue feathers all over their bodies. Parts like the tails, saddles and hackles are black in color. They have blue colored chests, but the feathers also have some black details added to the blue. Other parts of the rooster are light blue in color.
- Silver Ameraucanas
While all sizes of chickens in the silver Ameraucana category have the same color, there are differences to help you tell which is a hen and a rooster. When you look at the hens, you will notice that there are different colors all over their bodies. Their beards are a mixture of brown and black colors, their hackles are white and black, they have a touch of white on their feathers, while the rest of their bodies are dark brown or brownish gray. As for the roosters, they don’t have as much color distribution as the hens, just white and black strategically covering certain parts.
- Brown red Ameraucanas
The hens in this category are the ones that do not have a lot of colors covering their bodies. Usually, they are almost totally black in appearance, but sometimes you can see a little bit or orange coloring on their necks. The hackles of brown red Ameraucanas also have orange color.
The roosters have more color. A mixture of orange and black (but majorly orange), covers their saddles and capes. While other parts of their bodies are covered in darker orange color, mixed with black.
- Blue Wheaten Ameraucanas
The roosters in this category have a complicated color distribution around their bodies. They have blue and black muffs and beards, you will notice the color change from blue to black at the edges of the feathers. Their tails are black. While blue and orange colors cover the rest of their bodies.
The hens of the blue Wheaten have white faces. The rest of their bodies are completely beige, but the tails and tips are darker in appearance.
- Lavender Ameraucanas
The small and large sizes of fowls in this group, as well as the hens and roosters, share the same color characteristics. This category is made up of just one color, which is blue. The entire body of a fowl in this group, including its tails and feather tips, are blue in color. The group is also known as “self blue”, which is a proper description of how the lavender Ameraucanas are colored.
- Buff Ameraucanas
There has to be the same buff color for all the chickens in this group. The buff color should cover every single part of the body of the chicken, hen or rooster alike. It should be noted that this particular Ameraucana fowl is difficult to breed from start to finish, due to the uniform nature that has to be maintained.