Charlotte Gerber is an author and expert in essential husbandry for raising healthy chickens.
Ameraucanas and Easter Egg Chickens
Ameraucanas and "Easter Egg" chickens are often referred to interchangeably. They are not the same bird, however. What makes distinguishing them difficult is that both Ameraucanas and Easter Egg chickens lay eggs in shades of blue.
Ameraucanas and Easter Egg chickens aren't as popular as other egg-laying breeds, perhaps because they don't lay eggs in great quantities. However, these chickens are very popular with people who enjoy unusually colored eggs and children in the 4-H poultry program across the United States.
What Are the Differences Between Ameraucanas and Easter Eggs?
These two chicken varieties can be distinguished based on their ancestry, appearance, and availability.
Ameraucanas are an actual breed of chicken, while Easter Eggs are really just a hybrid chicken that results from cross-breeding a blue-egg-laying breed with another breed.
According to the 4-H Poultry Showing Guide, any chicken with Ameraucana genetics will often be mislabelled as Ameraucanas by hatcheries, leading to confusion about the variety of eggs such chickens lay. Thus, sometimes people are under the impression that Ameraucanas may also produce green, aqua, and occasionally pink eggs.
According to Ana Hotaling, co-owner of FMA Farms, a heritage-poultry farm in Southeast Michigan, Easter Egg chickens are really the chicken responsible for these other pastel eggs, hence the name "Easter Egg." It is important to note that an Easter Egg chicken only lays one color of egg throughout its lifespan.
Further adding to the confusion, both Ameraucanas and Easter Eggs share many features, such as their muffs and beards, pea combs and small earlobes. The two varieties diverge mainly in coloration. The American Poultry Association recognizes only eight colors of Ameraucanas: black, blue, wheaten, blue wheaten, white, silver, buff, and brown-red. Easter Egg coloration has no specific limitations. What's more is that an Easter Egg can look exactly like an Ameraucana in coloration, creating more confusion.
Finally, true Ameraucanas are almost exclusively available through private breeders, and they can cost upwards of $30 or more per chick. It's very easy to tell if your local store's chicken are Easter Eggs or Ameraucanas based on the price alone. If the chicks are less than $10 each, it is almost certain that they are Easter Eggs.
Not only does this beautiful bird lay various colored eggs, but it also has many varieties to choose from. As mentioned previously, the following are the eight varieties of Ameraucanas recognized by the American Poultry Association:
- Blue Wheaten
My favorite characteristic of the Ameraucana breed is their muff and beard. This gives them the appearance of having "fluffy cheeks." They are quite beautiful, especially the rooster, which carries its tail at a 45-degree angle.
Other characteristics of the Ameraucana breed include:
- Slate-colored shanks and feet
- Pea comb
- Females carry their tail at a 40-degree angle
- The muff and beard form three, well-rounded, separate lobes
- Wattles are very small or completely absent
Caring for Ameraucana Chickens
The care of this breed is the same as many other breeds. When possible, let them be free-range chickens. The roosters can be a little aggressive, so keep them separate from your hens unless you're breeding them, and then for a short time only. They don't play well with other roosters either, as has been my experience with the breed. I haven't had any trouble with cannibalism with this breed, but that isn't to say it wouldn't happen.
My own experience with the hens has been that they (and an occasional rooster) enjoy layer crumbles sprinkled with a few crushed oyster shells from my local feed store. With chicks, I buy chick feed to start, followed by feed for growing chickens when they're older, sprinkled with a small amount of chick grit.
There are so many types of feed out there—choose from what your feed store has locally. I don't have a preference when it comes to chicken feed, as the ingredients are essentially the same everywhere.
My formula for success has been to give chickens plenty of room, a clean pen, plenty of fresh water and food, access to the outdoors in the warmer months, and daily egg collection. Generally speaking, if the chickens have these things, they're less susceptible to disease and boredom, and are less likely to hurt each other.
Buy From a Reputable Hatchery
If you plan on showing these birds, buy your chicks from a reputable hatchery. Some places will sell birds that are mixes of Ameraucanas or Araucanas, which have been bred with other breeds. The end result is a bird that doesn't have the standard breed characteristics required for showing; essentially a Heinz 57 bird.
Sources and Further Reading
- Exhibiting 4-H Poultry | U of Nebraska Lincoln Ext
- How to Keep Healthy Birds | USDA
- Welcome to the American Poultry Association
- Learn the 3 A’s of the Easter Egger Chicken | Hobby Farms
Learn to differentiate between Ameraucanas and easter eggers chicken when you go shopping for chicks this spring.
- Ameraucana Breeders Club – Home Page
Ameraucana Breeders Club, Official Breeders Club since 1978, Home Page.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Charlotte Gerber
Yvonne L. B. from South Louisiana on February 19, 2012:
I have 3 adult Ameraucana hens and 3 pullets. One of the adult hens lays large, light pink eggs and the other 2 lay green or blue eggs. The pullets are about 5 months old and should start laying soon. I think they are more the "Heinz 57" variety, but since I don't plan to show them, this is not an issue. They are beautiful, friendly and each one has a unique feather pattern. I get an egg from each of the adult hens every day and a half.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 26, 2011:
Hi Rainey817, This time of year, at least where I live in the northeast of the U.S., the days are getting shorter and the chickens are laying less. This would be true for you also, I suspect if you also live in the US. The only way to stimulate production year 'round is to provide them with plenty of light, and in some cases, artificial light if you want them to produce constantly. Ours do not lay eggs in the coldest winter months, but usually start begin laying again in March. If possible, give your girls a chance - they aren't very old really and this breed typically doesn't start laying until 6-8 months of age (not to mention they aren't known as meat birds).
Rainey817 on October 24, 2011:
I have 2 Barred Plymoth Rocks (Black & White) 2 Americaunas or Easter Eggers (red) and 1 Giant cochan (white) lost her sister some form of wild varmit in the night. They were all purchased at the same time (about seven months ago) and my Rocks are laying every day and the one Americauna is laying almost every day, she maybe misses one day a week my other two have yet to lay. My husband says what doesn't produce breakfast becomes dinner (Yikes) any suggestions. One weird fact , the two that aren't laying hang out together and generally stay away from the three that do.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 12, 2011:
Hi Debnozz - my Ameraucanas took about a month longer to start laying than my other chickens - I too have orpingtons and brahmas. Depending upon where you live, the shorter days in the fall can further delay initial egg laying of young chickens - they need lots of sunlight to get them to start laying eggs (and warm temps also help). Don't worry - they will eventually begin laying, and they are great layers (at least in my experience). Once mine began laying this year, they've produced an egg every day, and one of my young hens lays a huge egg with double yolks every day.
debnozz on October 09, 2011:
Hi there! I have 3 Ameraucana pullets that are 6 months old, but have yet to lay an egg. My barred rock and wyandottes are the same age and have been laying for nearly a month now....even the younger orpingtons and my one brahma have laid eggs. As they are smaller birds, do they take longer to mature and lay?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 09, 2011:
Hi Diana, Most chickens don't start laying until about 5-6 months of age, so yours may not have begun laying yet. One reason that chickens don't lay is because they need plenty of sunlight - light bulbs aren't as effective.
The feed you give them won't help them lay eggs - oyster shell or grit only helps them to digest food and create harder shells for eggs.
One way to tell roosters from hens is that roosters have a spur on the inside of their legs, about 1-2 inches above their feet. Roosters usually have a larger comb on the top of their heads, while the hens have a very small one. Both hens and roosters will have the tufts on the sides of their heads. Roosters usually have large tails with long feathers (see photo of my rooster above), the hens will have small tail feathers, and some may appear "rumpless", which means their tail feathers seem to end abruptly at the end of their bodies and not stick out past their rump, like other breeds of chickens.
I hope this helps you to identify whether you have roosters or hens!
Diana on October 03, 2011:
Hello, we have had our two chickens for 5 months, and they have never laid eggs before. Someone told us to put oyster shells in there feed, and that didn't work. We got them at co-op so we don't know if they are hens or roosters. Because they have the thing on their head but not under their neck. But they don't crow. So are they males, and is that why they are not laying eggs or is there a way we can get them to lay their eggs.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 16, 2011:
Hi Gum Log Eggery, Once your hen starts laying, if they are an Americauna or Easter Egger, their eggs will be about the same color every time, though when they first start laying, the egg color is slightly darker than it will be a month or two down the road.
As for when you get chicks, there is no way to know what color or shade of the eggs they will lay. Personally, I had 6 that started laying this summer, and they all lay a different shade of blue or green eggs. The egg colors from these 6 hens range from a dark green to a light blue color.
Gum Log Eggery on September 14, 2011:
Does each hen lay the same color each time or does she lay different colors on other days? When we order new chicks how can we be assured that our chickens will lay different colors?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 28, 2011:
Hi Maebelle, Your chicken is one of the rare ones that lays pink eggs (see my first paragraph in the article above). Mine only lay aqua or dark green eggs. I only wish I had one that laid pink eggs. There isn't anything wrong with the eggs your chicken lays, nor with your chicken. It is just a genetic anomaly.
Maebelle on August 27, 2011:
My ameraucana just paid her first egg. But my question is how come her egg is pink and not blue?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 08, 2011:
Hi Brian, I don't have any to sell - my most recent acquisitions were from Tractor Supply. However, you can buy them from McMurray Hatchery: http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/araucanas_american...
Brian on June 07, 2011:
Does anybody know anybody who selle ameraucanas? I've read all the posts and i want to get some. My tractor supply store has already stopped selling them. Any of you intresdtd in selling me somr?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 04, 2011:
It seems the debate rages on about the color of the eggs, depending on who you refer or talk to. The following is from the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) in their booklet, "Exhibiting 4-H Poultry":
"Note: Be aware that the bird also must be identified correctly for its breed. This is especially true when showing an Araucana or Ameraucana (Fig 9). If the birds were ordered through a hatchery catalog under the name “Araucana” and they have a tail, it more likely is an “Ameraucana.” Some hatcheries do not specify the differences between these, but list them under one name. Both birds can lay blue, green, or sometimes pink-tinted eggs, although blue eggs are the most common. Any bird with Araucana/Ameraucana genetics may lay a blue egg, as it is a dominant trait." http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/ec282/bui...
thefinalword on June 03, 2011:
Ameraucana is a recognized breed of the APA in contrast to the Easter Eggers. Many hatcheries falsely sell Easter Eggers under the label of Ameraucana, Americana, or Araucana. True Ameraucanas only produce one color of egg--blue. If your chickens have lay green or pink eggs, they are Eggers not Ameraucana. See Ameraucana.org American Poultry Association sites for clarification.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on February 09, 2011:
Hi "I Need Help" - Amy posted an idea to post on Craigslist. In addition you can also go to feed stores or in some areas the Tractor Supply store to get chicks in smaller quantities. Our local feed store, for example, takes orders for chicks in the spring from local farmers who just want a few chicks, then combines their orders so they meet the "25 chick minimum." Then the farmers just pick up their chicks at the feed store. Alternatively, if you know of anyone else who wants chicks, combine your order with them to meet a minimum order. I have combined my orders with my Amish neighbors, and it has worked well for us - perhaps it would for you too.
Amy on February 03, 2011:
Hi "I Need Help" My family has bought alot of chickens off of craigslist. There is one for just about ever area. You have to look frequently in order to find specific breeds. You can also post an ad on there (it is free) stating that you are looking for Ameraucanas and Marans. Hope this helps!
I NEED HELP!!!! on February 02, 2011:
I'm looking for a website that will allow me to purchase three female cuckoo maran chickens and three female ameraucana chickens. It doesn't matter whether they are pullets or full grown, I just need a site where i don't have to buy 25 chickens or more.
I NEED HELP!!!
Please help me.
LOVE 'EM!! on February 01, 2011:
Ameraucanas are one of the most beautiful birds I've every taken care of. Their eggs are mesmerizing. I like to think of my ameraucanas as my Easter Egg Chickens. they really live up to their name. It is so sad when one of them passes away; I've grown so attached!!
Chickens Galore on January 26, 2011:
I have chickens already living in my backyard in the handmade chicken coop my father built, and we all love them so much, that we've decided to get six more: three ameraucanas and three marans. The problem is that the websites that we found all say that we have to purchase twenty or more of them, and they have to be little chicks. My family and I would like to purchase chickens that are already laying, or just about to start laying, and only six of them. Do you know of any sites that would allow us to do this?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on December 08, 2010:
Hi "I", Even if your chickens are old enough to lay (probably 6 months or older by now I'm guessing), the time of year plays a part as well. During the winter months (especially where it snows), egg laying usually tapers off (ours only lay a few eggs a week during the coldest months of the year - things started slowing down in November). Once things warm up a bit, and the days are longer (sun=higher egg production), your chickens will start laying eggs regularly.
My Ameraucana's weren't old enough to lay until December, but because of the lack of sunlight, didn't start to lay pullet eggs (the first small eggs) until the end of January/beginning of February. They're now reliable egg layers like my other varieties of chickens.
I on December 01, 2010:
i have 7 chickens, and i think that two of them are ameraucanas. another pair of chickens are older than the rest of them, and every single one of them BUT the ameraucanas have started to lay already. i have already read the article above, but i am STILL CONCERENED!!!! is there anything else that you can tell me? becuause i've already given them all names, and i've grown quite attatched to them..........i really on't want anything to happen to them.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on October 02, 2010:
Hi Amie, They are truly versatile and a fun breed to own. My rooster, shown in the photos above, has always been friendly to humans- but not always to other chickens (mostly aggressive towards the other roosters I own- which is natural!). I hope you enjoy your chickens as much as I do! Good luck!
amie on September 24, 2010:
I am new to chickens. I bought one americana rooster-he is silver quail marked, I think- I'm hooked! Not only did he turn out to be the smartest of the chickens i bought, but the friendliest! He loves to be picked up and held like a baby. I have seen no aggressiveness other than the usual "pecking order"
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 14, 2010:
Hi Fran, They typically begin laying between 5-6 months of age, though they may begin laying sooner if they mature during the summer months.
fran on September 04, 2010:
how many months does ameraucana to start laying eggs?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 01, 2010:
The hens weigh about 8 pounds and the roosters can weigh 10-12 pounds or more.
Chapter from Indonesia on July 23, 2010:
What is Ameraucana weight?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 16, 2010:
Hi Evelyn, Yes I have noted that my Ameraucana chickens start to lay later than the other breeds. There is only one other reason that I know of that can cause a problem with laying- not enough light. Make sure your chickens have plenty of light throughout the year. Additionally, chicks that don't have enough light when they are growing up to laying age may never lay eggs. However, this is a rare occurrence. I'm guessing your chicken is just getting a late start, since you state she is otherwise happy and healthy.
Evelyn on July 14, 2010:
I have an Ameracaucana that is about 28 wks old 3 other 3 hens of different breeds have started to lay however the Ameracaucana has not. She has been setting in the next but not producing any eggs. She is active & eating & appears fine not straining. Have you found that your Ameracaucana's start laying later the other breeds? Do you have any other thaughts as to what is going on?
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on July 09, 2010:
Hi Cynthia, I hope you enjoy your chicks/chickens as much as I have mine. My rooster (Chick Hicks) featured in the above article, has been a real character around our barnyard!
Cynthia on July 08, 2010:
I have 4 Ameracauna pullets that I got as day old chicks in April. I chose this breed because I was told they are friendly and not flighty. They have freedom to roam the fenced backyard during the day and they really ARE friendly! I don't handle them, but they come when I call them and sometimes just when they see me! They are neat birds!
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on June 16, 2010:
Hi Cheryl, There appears to be some discrepancy, due either in the way the name of these breeds are spelled, or from the various breeder websites on the subject. I appreciate the link you've included to yet another information website.
The information I have in my article came from McMurray Hatchery http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/araucanas_american... in which they describe the breed as Araucana/Americana "The Easter Egg Chicken," and "Field Guide to Chickens" by Pam Percy who writes the name as "Ameraucana."
In either event, they are a fun breed of chicken to have on the farm, and I personally haven't had any significant problems raising these birds. My children raise them as 4-H projects each year.
Cheryle from Washington State on June 15, 2010:
"I suppose the name Ameraucana chicken has something to do with why this breed isn't known by its true name- it is a little difficult to pronounce. It is better known as the "Easter Egg Chicken" because the hens lay eggs in shades of blue, green and aqua."
You are speaking of two different breeds here. A true Pure Amerecauna lays ONLY blue eggs. The name came from when the breed was developed in America, it did come from a crossing with the Aracauna breed. "Easter Eggers" are mixed breed backyard chickens that lay various colored eggs, usually, olive or green tinted eggs sometimes pink. For more in depth information on the Amerecauna and Araucana breeds check out the Amerecauna Breeders Club Website at http://www.ameraucana.org/faq.html. They have a wonderful explanation of the history and development of the beautiful Amerecauna Chicken, not to be confused with the backyard Easter Egger.
Chapter from Indonesia on May 21, 2010:
To get more eggs, you should consider this famous domesticated layer eggs https://hubpages.com/hub/Famous-domesticated-layer...
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on April 16, 2010:
Hi Delynne, 3 roosters may work just fine with your flock. As long as you give them enough room, everyone should be happy. Just keep a close eye on them to make sure they are getting along. If they're fighting, you'll notice lots of feathers around or injuries, which would let you know to separate them (you can always separate them and then just use them for breeding purposes). I agree- they are beautiful birds and I'd rather make new coops than get rid of any of mine! All the best for you and your flock!
Delynne on April 12, 2010:
Hey, thanks for this post. We are just raising a little flock of Ameraucanas and I want to keep as many roosters as I can. Is 3 too many for a flock of 20 hens? They're all so beautiful, I can't stand the thought of getting rid of any... )-:
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on March 13, 2010:
Hi Fox, If you'd like gentle chickens to start with, my two favorites are Polish and Buff Cochins. The smaller breeds are often more manageable and in my experience, friendlier.
Fox on March 10, 2010:
I love foxes and chickens even if one is eaten by the other.
I am just starting to breed chickens and I am hoping to have one as a pet but they sound mean!
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 19, 2009:
Hi Kelsey and Nicko, Sorry to hear about your losses. The rooster in my photos is named Chick Hicks (my 8 year old son named him). He has his own cage because he's aggressive to other hens and roosters. Unless we're breeding with him, he's best by himself. He is friendly though and is always interested when I'm cleaning his pen or feeding him. I wouldn't mind having a whole bunch of them!
nicko guzman from Los Angeles,CA on August 18, 2009:
Sigh...I too have lost chickens.Love this breed.
kelsey on August 16, 2009:
hello, i had just recently lost my white ameraucana rooster named peep. he was attacked by a fox, because he was free range.he olny liked me and my sister and not soo much my father! he didn't like men.
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 07, 2009:
Hi Melinda, Some hens just never lay eggs- they're barren. There is one theory on this. If you don't give chicks consistent lighting while they're developing, they won't lay eggs when they mature. In addition, hens need 16-18 hours of light each day so that they will lay eggs each day.
If your hen is being kept in a darkened area, consider adding a window or artificial light source to correct the problem.
Here's a link to an article on light and egg laying: http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_lay...
Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 07, 2009:
Hi Judy, I'm not aware of a gene issue with Ameraucana's, but Araucana's do have an issue with incubation. Ours have a typical incubation rate compared with other breeds such as Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire's and Brahmas.
Speaking from my own experience, my hens lay approximately 1 egg every day during the warmer months, and 1 every 2-3 days during the cold months (I'm in NY). The average would be about 210 eggs per year for healthy, young chickens.
Melinda on August 06, 2009:
My hen is over a year old and has never laid an egg. Do some hens simply never lay eggs?
Judy on July 24, 2009:
what scares me about this breed is their gene that causes some chicks to die during incubation. Is this true? I would also like to know approximately how many eggs ameraucanas' lay per year?
LadyJet from firstname.lastname@example.org on June 30, 2009:
Melinda Winner from Mississippi on June 26, 2009: