The elusive Ameraucana
After going through three hatchery-bred Rhode Island Red roosters for biting the hand that feeds them (and spurring the legs that bring them that food), the search was on for an Ameraucana rooster. After asking the experts at www.backyardchickens.com, I had decided that the wheaten Ameraucana was the perfect rooster – beautiful, protector of his flock, but gentle and docile with people. I thought finding one would be as easy as going into town to pick up those chicks the year before. Boy, was I wrong.
Ameraucanas, true Ameraucanas, are pretty rare. There are a lot of folks who say they have Ameraucanas, but what they actually have are Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers, aka AmerIcanas. What’s the difference, you may ask. The Easter Eggers (nicknamed because of the many colored eggs the hens lay) and Olive Eggers (olive colored eggs) are all mixed breeds: a light brown or white egg layer (such as the Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds) bred to an Ameraucana (or any other breed with the blue egg gene) creates this very pretty minty green eggs, as well as other various pastels. A wide variety of Easter Eggers will make your egg collection basket look like an Easter basket every day – hence the name. Olive Eggers are any very dark brown egg layer (such as the Marans) bred to any breed with the blue egg gene (like the Ameraucana). The eggs from that combination will have an olive green cast to them – very striking!
The problem with calling Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers Ameraucanas is that: 1) they don’t usually match the standard colors for Ameraucanas, according to the APA breed standard (you can read more about that at the Ameraucana Breeder’s Club, and 2) they won’t breed “true” – in otherwords, no matter how much they may look like a purebred Ameraucana, their chicks won’t. And some of the Easter Eggers look enough like an Ameraucana to fool you – especially when you’re a novice, like I was when I first started. To be fair, some of the people that call their AmerIcanas AmerAUcanas don’t know the difference, either. But if you want a true Ameraucana, go to the source!
I went to the Ameraucana’s Breeders Club and looked up a breeder near me and found Suzanne Blumer and beautiful Huckleberry Farms in upstate South Carolina. A few phone calls, some pictures exchanged, and a paypal payment sent and I was on my way to pick up my new Ameraucana rooster. Of course, I took extra crates and boxes just in case something else caught my attention, too. I learned pretty fast that, when planning a visit to another farm, be prepared to bring home more than you planned.
We are now working on our seventh generation of those first wheaten Ameraucanas, most of whom are descendants of the foundation cockerel, Hawkeye. Although Hawkeye has left us, his wonderful temperament and beautiful example of the breed lives on in all my wheaten and blue wheaten Ameraucana breeding pens. We’ve also added black, blue, and splash Ameraucanas.