Araucana

History

The Araucana originates from South Chile and has taken its name from the province called Arauca, the home of the Arauca Indians. A different version of origin claims that the breed originated in Peru and was imported by the Spaniards; this has never been proved, though.
The most notable characteristics include the pink, green and blue coloured eggs they produce as well as the ear tufts

The Portuguese explorer Magelhaes (1480-1521) described poultry in 1519 that resemble Araucanas. In 1526, Spanish general and naturalist by the name of Cabot described poultry that laid blue eggs in Spain. It is assumed that this breed was present in more than one state in South America by the 17th. century. Even Dutch pirates who particularly attacked Spanish boats mentioned 'these funny chickens with earrings, which laid blue and green eggs'. These must have been Araucanas. Missionaries also mentioned this very special breed.

From 1880 onwards, Araucanas spread through Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In Uruguay, ladies in higher circle kept and bred Araucanas as a curiosity; it is known that in those days the egg production was around 185 eggs a year.
Prof. Salvador Castello Carreras rediscovered the Araucanas in 1914 in Punta Arenys in the far South of Chile.

The breed was intensively discussed at the first World Poultry Congress of the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA) in The Hague, the Netherlands in September 1921. After this congress, the breed became very well known throughout the world.

Some people think that Araucanas should be rumpless. This is not true, although there is a rumpless subspecies called Collonca that is also kept by many people. There are many descriptions of the Araucana and quite recently, the Ameraucana, an American version of the breed, was developed, but these have beards and whiskers instead of the eartufts.

Description

A true standard description is hard to make as the Araucana exists in more than seven different types.
The most prominent feature being the eartufts (not muffs!), which can be differently shaped. The second feature, namely rumpless is wrongly mentioned. The illustrations show best what the different types look like.
C.S.Th. van Gink, the world famous Dutch poultry judge and -expert, illustrator, painter and founder of the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA), describes the breed around 1950 as follows:

'The most well known types of the coloured egg laying Araucanas are the:

  1. Castilian type
  2. Spanish game type
  3. Eastern game type
  4. Bearded and Feathered Feet type
  5. Continental Fowl type
  6. Long legged, rumplesss type with feathered feet
  7. Frizzled type.
Going by the Araucanas that have come from America and Europe, there are more types of eartufts occur in other types than the above mentioned. By mixing up these varieties the Araucana occurs in nearly more colours than any other Continental Fowl from any country.'

(Note author) So called Continental Fowl are light, old European poultry breeds that are in type very similar to the original Jungle Fowl.

Anyone seriously interested in the Araucana should read David Caudill's 1975 book 'Araucana Poulterers Handbook', published by the International Collonca Society, Roble del Campo, California as well as the 1991 publication 'Araucanas, Rings on their Ears!' by Cathy Brunson, California, USA.

Characteristics

A very hardy breed that is less susceptible to diseases. They achieve a good egg production of around 200 per year in various colours, of which the green and blue are the most common.
They are very good foragers if kept free range. Keeping them penned up tends to make them to fat, which can influence the egg production. Their food, therefore, needs to be rationed.
Most varieties of Araucana do not get broody with the exception of the rumplesss Collonca. Green eggs of non-purebred Araucanas are currently sold on the European market as being a healthier egg.

Weight

Depending on type, sex and age, they weigh around 1400- 2000 grams. Some very heavy ones of up to 4000 grams do occur in certain varieties.

Varieties

The only TRUE Araucanas possess ear tufts and lay coloured eggs. Colour is of minor importance in this breed and rumpless as well as with tailed varieties exist.
Other varieties include feathered feet types and frizzled.

Copyright 2000 by Hans L. Schippers - Amstelveen - Holland

E-mail: schipperspoultry@zonnet.nl