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My Experience Raising Ameraucana Chickens From Pullets to Hens

Updated on August 3, 2017
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For years, Yvonne has been developing a sustainable homestead complete with chickens, food plants, on-site water, solar power, and more.

My Ameraucanas
My Ameraucanas

When I was a child, one of my favorite chores was to collect the eggs from the hen house on our farm. When we retired and moved to the country, some of the first animals that I wanted to get were chickens. I wanted to be able to go out each day and gather healthy eggs from our own free-range hens. Every time we visited the local feed store, I would go and drool over the cute baby chicks.

Unfortunately, several things stood in the way of my little dream, and we had to put it on hold for several years. Around the time when it looked like we were finally ready to build our movable chicken coop and get some chicks, Hurricane Katrina hit, and our whole world was shattered. But thanks to a gift from a good friend, things were put in motion.

How We Obtained Our Little Flock

We are now proud owners of a small flock of Ameraucana chickens. Many years ago when we lived in Baton Rouge, we raised some chicks that were hatched by a kindergarten class. Unfortunately, we couldn't keep them in the city, so they were given to our friend Margaret, who lived in Covington.

It's funny how things come full circle because our most recent attempt at keeping chickens began with a plea from Margaret, the same dear friend who took our Baton Rouge chicks off our hands so many years ago. She had purchased six baby chicks that had been sexed as pullets (hens), and her husband (a city boy) would not let her keep them. So, knowing that we were nature lovers and that we wanted a few chickens, she asked us to take them.

Our Baby Chicks in Their First Few Weeks

Here are the two-and-a-half to 3-week-old chicks the day after we got them. We kept them on the front porch so that they would be warm and safe. Can you say, "COUN-try?"

At first, we would only fill the bottom part of the feeder twice a day, but, by the time they were 5 weeks old, we had to fill the bottle part up to the top.

Housing and Feeding

The two chicks with the white faces in the photo above now have red feathers.
The two chicks with the white faces in the photo above now have red feathers.

Housing

  • These cute and fluffy little Ameraucana chicks spent their first 2 months in a giant cardboard box that was covered with a large, bottomless cage that had once been a flight cage for Cockatiels.
  • The bottom of the box was lined with a piece of burlap and some newspaper, which was then covered with a layer of wood chips. Chicks need this kind of surface so that their feet can grow correctly.
  • Up until they were about 5 weeks old (which was when they began to get feathers), we kept a lamp clamped to the cage and turned it on when the temperatures were cool.
  • Baby chicks under 3 weeks old should be kept in temperatures that are from 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Feeding

  • Special medicated chick starter food is given twice a day, and their water bottle is also cleaned and changed at the same time.
  • When the chicks have more feathers than fuzz (at around 6 weeks), they can be moved into an outside coop.
  • It is recommended that the medicated food be given to the chicks until they are about 4 months old.
  • We were told that the little ones can perish from many diseases if they are not given the medication in their food.

Out in the Chicken Coop

These are 8-week-old chicks out in the run of their movable coop. In no time, they had eaten all of the weeds and grass.

It took a day or so before they started to use the perches, but, once they did, they would go into the "house" at dusk and sleep there until morning. When they were still small, we would close the door to the "house" each night.

They've Got Personality!

The two youngest chicks.
The two youngest chicks.

As the little ones grew, they started showing individual personalities. The two youngest ones regularly sparred with each other, and, when their feathers started coming in, they were more red than the other four.

These two were also much larger birds. They were very bossy and were always throwing their weight around. We were always afraid that they were roosters. Then, when they were about 14 weeks old, one of them crowed. About ten days later, we realized that it was the larger of the two red ones.

We really didn't want roosters because we were worried that the crowing would wake us up too early. We already had a Cocker Spaniel that went off from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m., and we didn't need another alarm clock. But, so far, the little rooster hasn't awakened us.

Our Hens

Goldie and the Girls
Goldie and the Girls

Our four hens all have similar coloring, but each one has her own special markings and mannerisms.

One has a gold head and neck, so I call her Goldie. Goldie is a little smaller than the others, but she doesn't let that bother her.

One hen, Gertie, is very dark and a little skittish, like a wild bird. The other two hens are very similar, but one has a black beard (Henny), and the other has dark ear muffs (Penny).

Physical Characteristics

Ameraucanas have ear tufts, beards, and pea combs. They are also called "Easter egg" chickens because they lay green and blue eggs. They are medium-sized birds and are said to be good layers. They can begin laying when they are from five to six months old. The first eggs are small but will increase in size as the hens get older. Ours started laying at 6 months, and now we enjoy fresh, homegrown, organic eggs.

Time to Lay Eggs

My Birds at Sixth Months Old
My Birds at Sixth Months Old

Here are three of the four hens. From left to right you see Henny, Goldie, and Penny. Gertie is a little shy, so she's not in the picture.

  • At six months old, Ameraucana hens can start laying eggs.
  • The most common colors of egss are green and blue, but sometimes they will be light peach or pinkish.
  • Like clockwork, at almost exactly 6 months of age, Henny, the hen with the black beard, laid a small light peachy-pink egg in the water bowl.
  • Poor baby. It was obvious that she didn't have any idea what was coming out of her. She skipped the next day, but on day three there was another slightly larger light pink egg on the floor, near where the water bowl used to be. She skipped day four, then, on day five, we found the third egg, and it was in the box we had mounted for that purpose. After that, she started laying every day in the nesting box.

Seven beautiful and healthy Ameraucana (Easter Egg chicken) eggs.
Seven beautiful and healthy Ameraucana (Easter Egg chicken) eggs.

How Many Eggs Do We Get Each Day?

Right now, only one of the four hens is laying, and we are getting an egg each day. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, as the other three hens mature, they'll start laying as well. We are hoping that one or two of them will lay blue or green eggs because we already have one laying peachy-pink ones.

Update

We are so pleased to announce that two of our hens lay green-blue eggs. They were the last to begin laying, but you know what they say about saving the best for last. We love the pink eggs, but, now, with all four of them laying, we get an assortment of colored eggs. Recently, they have been providing us with three to four eggs a day. Some of the eggs are still in the small category, but because I am on a low-cholesterol diet, that's not such a bad thing.

Henny and Penny lay pink eggs, and Goldie and Gertie lay the bluish-green ones. At 10 months, the hens are all full size and lay almost every day. The eggs are usually in the medium to large range.

Goldie, one of the older hens, laying a pink egg in a new nest box.
Goldie, one of the older hens, laying a pink egg in a new nest box.

Could Hot Weather Affect Egg-Laying?

The summer has been hot, and the hens that lay the blue and green eggs stopped laying for a couple of weeks. Goldie was trying to set. It's normal for hens to stop laying for a few weeks, but it's so odd to see only pink eggs in the egg carton.

Building a Movable Chicken "Tractor" Coop

We were a little late in completing our coop because of weather conditions and a family emergency.

How We Constructed the Coop

  • We recycled some 16-gauge welded wire flight cages that we had when we used to raise Cockatiels.
  • By cannibalizing the cages, we came up with an 8' X 3' X 3' covered run and a 4' X 2' X 3' summer roosting area.
  • We read that each chicken should be allowed three square feet of area in the coop and the run. This current setup has 32 square feet of space for six chickens.
  • We put movable pieces of 3/4" plywood around the roosting area. The roof is a piece of sheet metal (which used to be the bottom of the Cockatiel cage), with a large piece of plywood on top.
  • The whole thing is movable, and the bottom of the run is open so the chickens can scratch around for bugs and grass.

It doesn't look like much, but it serves the purpose until we can build a larger wooden roosting and nesting area that we'll attach the 8' X 3' X 3' run to. We plan to do this before they are five months old and before the cold weather sets in. There are many predators where we live, so we must keep their coop secure from both air and digging creatures.

Plans for a Nesting House

We have drawn up plans for our more permanent wooden nesting and roosting house.

  • It will have a slanted hinged roof so that we can easily clean it out and check for eggs.
  • The dimensions will be three feet by four feet and about five feet tall with two-foot legs.
  • Two of the legs will have wheels so that we can pick up the attached run and move the whole thing like a wheelbarrow. This way the chickens will have the food of free-range hens but the safety of a cage.

Until we can get the new coop built, I am letting the hens out into the garden for a couple of hours each afternoon. Their vitality has improved, and they are doing a fabulous job of weeding, tilling (scratching) the soil, and ridding the garden of insect pests. As they work through the dormant garden, they also leave fertilizer. As the sun goes down, they go back into the portable coop to roost, and I close the door to secure them.

Update

We finally built a new chicken house for our three hens. It is a beautiful hen house and greenhouse duplex that makes the old one look like a broken-down trailer.

Hen house/greenhouse duplex
Hen house/greenhouse duplex | Source

We Got 3 New Ameraucana Pullets

3 New Ameraucana Pullets
3 New Ameraucana Pullets

The color variations of Ameraucanas never cease to delight me.

These beautiful girls just began to lay blue and green eggs. The white and gold one in the front is Buffy. The one with the mostly gold head is Cinnamon, and the one in the back is Brandy. Brandy has a black beard. All are gentle hens.

Their eggs are on the small side compared to the adult hens, but each week they get a little larger. They are still young, after all, and I wouldn't want them to strain themselves.

Cinnamon, Brandy and Buffy
Cinnamon, Brandy and Buffy

We Found Roosters in Our Flock

Remember the two big chicks in our first flock. Well, it turned out they were roosters after all.

They both have such brilliant colors compared to the hens. We were told that there is a 10% chance of getting a rooster when you buy pullet chicks, but two out of six figures out to be 33.3%. I wonder if they take returns. The good news: the feed store owner says that he can find a good home for the roosters.

Giving One Away

We have now heard both of them crowing. One is quite good at it, but the other is still learning. Both are loud and start crowing at dawn. My only stipulation is that they do not end up in the stew pot.

We took one rooster to the feed store on a Friday, and, by Saturday afternoon, he had found a good home with his own flock of pretty hens. Since he left, things have quieted down in our flock, and the remaining rooster is tending and protecting his hens. We've decided to keep him unless he gets too attentive and starts harassing them.

A Few Months Later

The rooster crows no more in our movable chicken coop. Our remaining rooster was too vigilant in his duties with the hens. Four of them were missing many feathers on their backs. Poor Goldie, his favorite, had claw marks and scratches on her back.

The rooster is now in a good home and will have his own harem of hens. Hopefully, they are free-range chickens, so the hens have room to run.

Why Keep Chickens?

Do you keep chickens? If so why?

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© 2009 Yvonne L. B.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love all hens but Easter Egg hens and APA Ameraucana hens are not the same. Ameraucanas are bred to a standard and lay blue eggs only. Easter Eggers look similar but do not have the coloring marks of the approved standard colors. I looked a long time to find a breeder of actual blue egg Ameraucanas. If the feed store is selling "Ameraucanas" they most likely are just Easter Eggers. Pretty birds but NOT actual Ameraucanas. BTW beautiful photos.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 4 years ago from Covington, LA

      @naturegirl7s: Oops, I misread your comment. Sometimes the feed stores will have 5-6 month old pullets, but not often. Talk to your local feed stores. They may know someone who would part with a couple that they got as chicks in the spring.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 4 years ago from Covington, LA

      @Redneck Lady Luck: In the country, most chicken keepers wanted their flock to be self-sustaining. With a rooster to fertilize the eggs, an endless supply of chicks was available to replace the older hens or to eat as meat. In the future, when I get more chicks to replace the older hens, I will probably keep a rooster if one of the pullets turns out to be in the 10% mistaken identifications.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 4 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: Are you on the North Shore or the South Shore? I don't know about the regulations for keeping chickens on the south shore. Check with Feed stores or your neighbors if you are in New Orleans. If you want to start from chicks, they are available in the fall during September & October at Marsolan's Feed Store in Covington & at Mid-point in the Folsom area. More will be available in the spring at most feed stores & Tractor supply.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i am new to the new orleans area and am interested in a 4-6 month old ameracauna pullet. can you point me in the right direction?

    • profile image

      SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline 4 years ago

      Lovely birds you have. My Wheaten Ameraucanas are so sweet and gentle and lay pretty green eggs.

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 4 years ago

      cute, they must have a falcon in the family - pretty birds :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      really helpful suggestions, thanks !

      Low cholesterol diet plan

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Which goes to show exactly how much I know about chickens. We always had chickens when I was a child but I always thought that you needed to have a rooster in the coop in order for the hens to lay eggs. I guess I always just presumed this because we always had a rooster in the coop.

    • Rural Farming profile image

      Rural Farming 5 years ago

      I have some Ameraucnas & they are great!

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      We have 20 chickens. Several of them are Ameraucanas and we really enjoy them. Thanks!

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from Covington, LA

      I simply must brag a little on my 10 hens. I have a mixed flock of 3 adult Ameraucana hens, 3 Ameraucana pullets, 2 Rhode Island Red pullets and 2 Barred Rock pullets. For the past 3 days, my little flock has laid 8, 7 and 8 eggs for a 3 day total of 23 eggs. Almost 2 dozen in 3 days!

      Normally hens lay 1 egg every 1 1/2 days, but at the present mine are working overtime. About half of them are laying every day. Looks like we'll be having a lot of egg dishes.

      Anyone have any good recipes?

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      This was an informative and enjoyable lens to read. I'd love to have chickens.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      These chickens look good. Seem like a good breed to keep.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the excellent information............

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I have several Ameraucanas, and they are so sweet & gentle! Nice article on your birds. I hope they are still doing well

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Really enjoyed this article about your chickens. My goal is to start raising a few layers this spring. I am doing the prep work this winter so I will be ready to hatch some chicks in a few months. Thanks for the excellent information. With all the coyotes here, I need to build a really sturdy chicken coop. That will be the first order of business. I like how you combined a coop with a greenhouse. Very nicely done.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 5 years ago

      Hello...This is an excellent lens. We always had chickens on the farm when I was growing up. We always enjoyed "the ladies".

      The reason I'm here today is because I'm participating in the Thanksgiving Quest, and the Quest is to thank one particular lensmaster for something.

      I'd like to thank you for your help in the forum a couple of days ago. Because of your clear post, I was finally able to figure out how to line up photos side by side in the text module, something I didn't know how to do before.

      I like the way my lenses look a lot better now.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Amazing photos, I love this Lense :)

    • profile image

      vipsspatton 5 years ago

      Love your lens. We have 5 chickens, 1 is an Ameraucana (our favorite, she's so sweet!) - We get 4 to 5 eggs each day. The thing I like the most is what wonderful pets chickens make! Whenever we go near their coop they come running! I swear they'd be wagging their tails if they had them! who would've guessed? PlansForHenhouse.com

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Chickens make very interesting pets, and we really like the Ameraucana chickens for the different colored eggs. We have a small, mixed flock of hens (no roosters, thank you!) and collect white, brown, beige, greenish and blue-ish eggs. Our friends enjoy receiving gifts of a dozen multi-colored eggs.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      ~ Blessed by a Squidoo Angel ~

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing and will be featured on my upcoming hatching chicks lens. :)

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      ah the refreshing taste of fresh eggs in the morning! love it! thank you for sharing such a wonderful lens with us all! cheers

    • GreenChickens profile image

      GreenChickens 6 years ago

      Really nice lens! I've been wanting a few Ameraucanas in my flock!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love chickens and they do for us hungry people. This really is a very good lens. I miss the farm life that I once lived as a teen. The chickens were a big part of the whole. Fresh eggs, fresh chickens, what else can you ask for.

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 6 years ago

      Lovely photos, thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What I wonderful web site! I stumbled upon yours looking for pictures of Ameraucana chicks similar to the ones our family just got. This is our first foray into raising chickens, and the information was so helpful, plus we were excited to see pics of what our chickens would look like once they were older. Thank you for making such a neat page!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Interesting lens about chickens you have here! Keep it up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Good to see such a nice site with so much info. We have 3 ISA Browns for over a year now and they are always a real treat. We also love the different personalities that they have and the funny things they do. Talk about pest control! Before getting the hens our Jack Russel Terrier was constantly plauged by fleas every summer so we were constantly treating the yard and flea shampooing her all the time. Now with the free ranging hens there are no fleas in this yard! Needless to say the eggs are a great treat and our neighbors love it when we bless them with those jumbo size eggs. I even have one hen I can place on my knee and she will talk to me for awhile as the others look on.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      What an amazing lens about keeping chickens! Thanks for sharing it and it is Blessed by a Squid Angel :-)

    • Kate Phizackerl1 profile image

      Kate Phizackerl1 7 years ago

      Quality lens. Blessed.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      How did I miss this one? Fabulous lens covering everything about keeping chickens. Your photos and personal experience add the perfect touch. Good luck!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      The Oviparous Animals stopped by to commend you on such a beautiful and informative lens. Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge of egg layers and congratulations on receiving a well deserved Purple Star Award.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Wonderful Lens on your Chickens. Congrats on your Purple Star and Giant Squid Awards Nomination! :)

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 7 years ago

      LOVE this lens !!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very interesting lens. 5* and blessed.

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      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Chickens are my favorite motif. I have even paper folded chickens.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 7 years ago

      Another top notch article!

      Congratulations on the Blue Ribbon! I won one, too. Go WiWon Team!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Oh wow. I love your photos, background, products, and content. Great lens and congratulations on winning a blue ribbon at the Giant Squid Community Fair.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Congratulations! You've won a blue ribbon at the fair! Stop by the Showcase blog to grab it!

    • profile image

      Quirina 7 years ago

      What a nice lens, congrats on the purple star! Will check out your other lenses as well...

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      Nicely done

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Wow! Nice work!