For each characteristic that is present in us, there are 2 genes---one from our father, and one from our mother. Some genes are dominant, that is, they appear in the phenotype (visible characteristics); some are recessive, only visible when there is no dominant gene present. It is possible to have two dominant genes (homozygous dominant), one dominant, and one recessive gene (heterozygous), or two recessive genes (homozygous recessive).
In Araucana chickens the tufted gene is dominant, and the non-tufted gene is recessive. The thing about the tufted gene is that if there are two tufted genes (homozygous dominant) in the chick embryo, it dies in the shell. So in order to have a tufted Araucana, it must be heterozygous. Therefore, when breeding 2 tufted parents that are heterozygous (Tt), each parent has one tufted gene (which is dominant, denoted as T) and one non-tufted gene (recessive, and denoted as t). The odds are: you will have one chick that is "TT" (tufted, but dead in the shell), two that are "Tt" (tufted), and one that is "tt" (non-tufted). This is because for each parent, they pass on the tufted gene on half the time, and the non-tufted gene half the time, see here for a good visual of why this occurs.
The fact that 1/4 of the chicks die in their shell has caused hatcheries to search for a better alternative to breeding Araucanas; this has resulted in a lot of mixed birds sold as Araucanas, but that do not exhibit the same characteristics. Even if successful in breeding a heterozygous bird, you will probably still have variance in the direction of the tufts, and size differences between one tuft and the other. In addition to having issues with the tufted gene, the Araucana may experience problems with the rumpless gene.
- Male: Obviously distinguished from other male chickens with it's absence of a tail, and sickles (long tail feathers), it is not so easily distinguishable from females of the same breed. Both sexes have similar characteristics, a trait inherited from one of their ancestors, the Collonca breed. One of the most easily discernable things is the feather pattern, where the hens have a very unidirectional feather alignment, the males have a very different pattern. Look at the black, and white drawing in the middle of this page, where the hen is on the right, and the rooster on the left. Also, male feathers can tend to be a bit brighter, and longer than females. The roosters, esepecially after maturity will show more aggressive behavior as all roosters do. This is not to say that there are not exceptions, but as a rule of thumb, the more aggressive chickens are usually roosters.
- Female: Distinguishable from males by the traits listed above, otherwise female Araucanas are very similar, in traits such as feather color, which is black, with a beetle green sheen, as well as the tail, or lack or in this instance. The lack of a tail has, in fact, led to various beleifs of the ability to escape predators more easily, and creating better cocks for fighting. Regardless, in current times, they are often popularized, for being a bit quirky.
- Face: Red
- Comb: Red Pea Comb
- Earlobes: Red
- Skin color: Yellow
- Beak color: Black
- Eyes: Brown
- Legs: Slate to black
- Rooster- 5
- Hen- 4
- Cockerel- 4
- Pullet- 3 1/2
- Purpose: Ornamental (Tufts)/Egg-Laying (Blue), but also rather easily edible.
- Origin: Southern part of South America
- Common: Rare in true form.
- Egg color: Blue turqoise in true form.
- Egg size: Medium
- Eggs a week/year: 3-4 eggs a week, about 180-200 a year.
- Broody: Yes
- Confinement: Good, well adapted to a coop or free-range.
- Compatibility: Generally great. Every once in a while you may run across a rather intolerable chicken, more so than other breeds.
- Hardy: Cold hardy.
- Bantam: Yes
- Personality: Usually quite calm, and tame if properly handled at a young age. They are generally quite, and not overly flighty.
- Available from: I would suggest to NOT buy eggs from a hatchery, but rather from a local seller. If you cannot do this, try to deal with individual sellers, and get photos of the parents. Here are some possible sources for finding local sellers.
- Araucana Club of America (http://araucana.net/)
- Become a member, and with it comes a list of breeders of the Araucana breed. Alternatively, try to contact one of these personages about Araucana sellers in your area. Click here for their contact information.
- Sky Blue Egg
- Some of this breeder's original sources: here.
Photo courtesy of: Richard Collard at "Araucana the Main Roost"
Information courtesy of: