Vote! Why do most hatcheries confuse Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas and Araucanas? April 13, 2012

I don’t have the funky, tailless, tufted Araucanas, but I have to admit, they sure do look cool! I do have both real Ameraucanas, and Easter Eggers… and I love them both.

I love real Ameraucanas, I admit. I’m probably biased, since some of my favorite birds were Ameraucanas. They don’t lay as well as my Easter Eggers, and their eggs aren’t as large or as vivid in color. Some have not been especially friendly. I can’t help it, though, I just adore Ameraucanas. Two of my first hens were Wheaten Ameraucanas, and it was they who made me realize that chickens were way, WAY cooler than I had ever imagined.

Lily and Galatea… ah. They were beautiful.

Lily and Galatea, while the sun sets

Lily and Galatea pose in front of the setting sun

They were sort of Chicken Ambassadors, even as baby chicks. From the beginning, they would jump up on my hand when I had it in the brooder; loved to fall asleep on me. I, like a smitten fool, would leave my hand in there for ages as my arm grew more and more tired from the awkward position, but I just couldn’t bear to disturb them sleeping there. Having a little bird who is happy to voluntarily jump into your hand and who feels safe enough to sleep there seemed magical.

Baby Lily

Baby Lily--this photo still melts my heart!

I kept thinking of Dickon from The Secret Garden. I felt like a bird charmer. I sang to them, like the maudlin sap I am. They peeped right back.

As soon as they were old enough, they’d flutter over the sides of the brooder and try to perch on my shoulders or my head. They just loved people, and won many people over to loving chickens right back. Galatea would work her way back into my hair, and then I’d feel her little head sort of snuggling against me and I would melt a little. As older birds, they seemed to pose for the camera like supermodels.

Lily's golden eye

Lily says "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille."

Who would have thought? My husband was sort of flabbergasted by their affection. They loved him, too, and he’d hardly spent any time with them. Still, they jumped up on his shoulders and perched there with that proud, sort of bird-of-prey look they have. I doubt he had any The Secret Garden imagery in his head; maybe he imagined himself as a medieval falconer: with jesses hanging down, his gauntlet on… his bird was ready to spring into the hunt as soon as he gave the word. I can see him now, the breeze ruffling his hair as he stands at the edge of the forest. (Then again, it’s more likely that this imagery of him is from my head, not his. I do get caught up, lucky girl that I am.)

They loved belly rubs. I had no idea birds would like to be petted!

Galatea getting a belly rub

Galatea demands her love time

Honestly, when I first got chickens, I wasn’t especially expecting them to be friendly–not actually, really friendly. I mean, I got “docile” breeds with the idea that I’d then be able to walk through the yard without having chickens screeching in terror trying to get away. That was one of my aims: no terrified, screaming chickens, please. I wanted something like the friendly, cheery little Easter Eggers I remembered meeting years ago. But when it came down to it, I really didn’t expect to have this thunderous stampede of chicken enthusiasm targeting me as soon as they hear the front door squeak . It’s enough to rattle your teeth, sometimes.

It’s a pet peeve. Spoiled birds: they’re hoping for treats! I have to practically wade through them sometimes, as if through a creek, with chickens up to my knees. “Sorry girls,” I call. “No treats right now!”  What little beggars.

Galatea in the road

Here's Galatea, trying to decide whether or not the camera lens is edible or if it might make a good perch. It isn't and it won't, honey.

 

I need to get the front door fixed; that’s what I need to do. It’s old; it squeaks, and the chickens know it. It’s a siren song, as far as they’re concerned But we live on an old farm, so everything is out of square and we can’t quite manage to get the squeak stopped for any significant period of time. Instead, I open the door to step out–SQUEEEAAAHHH–and what the chickens hear is this: “SUNFLOWER SEEDS, COME AND GET IT!”

But I digress.

What I’m really getting to is another one of my pet peeves: the confusion hatcheries have between Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers and Araucanas. I get why normal chicken keepers might be confused–that’s because they take the word of the hatcheries. But solve this mystery for me: what’s the deal with hatcheries, actual major hatcheries, confusing Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas and Araucanas? My Pet Chicken advertises Easter Eggers as Easter Eggers, and Ameraucanas and Ameraucanas. It’s not that hard. An Easter Egger is a mixed breed; Ameraucanas and Araucanas are purebreds, bred to a particular standard. But Easter Eggers can be beautiful, too!

 

Buff colored Easter Egger

Just TRY telling me this Easter Egger isn't gorgeous!

It’s the same with cats or dogs, and people “get it” for those pets. Dig: If I were selling some random yellow mutt as a purebred Golden Retriever, it would be dishonest. It would be dishonest even if I said “this retriever is not for show,” and it would be dishonest even if I intentionally misspelled retriever. “I never claimed it was a Golden ‘Retriever’ really. Didn’t you notice how I tweaked the spelling? I’m selling Retrivers, not Retrievers!”

I just think that bird wouldn’t fly. Or in this analogy, maybe I should say “that dog won’t hunt.” If I tried selling fake “retrivers,” fists of dog lovers all across the country would be raised to the sky in outrage at the sheer audacity of me, and justifiably so! Well, where are your fists, chicken lovers? So far as we can tell, My Pet Chicken is the only major hatchery that sells Easter Eggers correctly.

2 Easter Eggers

Easter Eggers Phoenix and Gwyneth pose for the camera

In fact, the first flock I met in person–the flock that convinced me that I HAD to have chickens some day–was a flock of bantam Easter Eggers. They were so cute, so varied. They were all colors. They were cheery and energetic. They didn’t look like any chickens I had ever seen pictures of. After my farm visit was done, I went home with two dozen of the most gorgeous tiny, green and blue eggs. I felt like it was a crime to eat them; they were like songbird eggs. I couldn’t believe chickens, real chickens, had actually produced those beautiful gems. They were otherworldly. Ameraucana eggs are beautiful, too! However… they’re more uniform. They’re blue, and as I said, usually a little less vivid (although that can vary, of course). But it’s only the Easter Eggers that can give you those beautiful shades of green, teal, sage, turquoise and so on.

So, I love Easter Eggers. I love that each hen has her own shade of egg shell. I love their little combs and elegant silhouette. I love their friendliness and cheery personality in general. I love that each bird looks different.

Easter Egger hens with Fav roosters

Believe it or not, all the hens in this photo are Easter Eggers... even the white ones that look like Sultans!

Seriously LOVE it. Some of mine (above) have crests and feathered legs. Two are beardless. All are unique in some way.

The misinformation that proliferates at hatcheries and on the Internet keeps people confused about the differences between the three–very smart people, sometimes. In fact, I’ve even seen the same misinformation in books and magazines, where the authors or editors must have simply taken some hatchery at its word, or perhaps they simply read it on a website somewhere and took it for truth. The folks at the Ameraucana Breeders’ Club and the Araucana Club of America must be at their wits’ end.

The thing that really gets me about it is this: why the deception? There’s nothing wrong with Easter Eggers–they’re great! I love mutts, whether dogs or cats or chickens. I love the purebred Ameraucanas, too, but it’s just because I had two very special hens; not because having a purebred bird is somehow inherently better. (Cross bred birds tend to be extra healthy.) Plus, many people prefer to get, say, a dozen Easter Eggers for a family flock (rather than the purebreds), because EEs are all different and can be more easily told apart and named by their children (or themselves).

So, what do you think: Is it fair for other hatcheries to mislabel their birds as they do? Do you think they know better and do it purposefully, or are they just uninformed about chicken breeding? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

42 Comments
ginny April 13th, 2012

Interesting and informative. (Psssstt, it’s “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille.”)

Lissa April 13th, 2012

Yikes! Thanks, Ginny. I fixed it! :)

Aprille April 13th, 2012

Our 3 babies, 3 months now, were sold to me as Ameraucanas but knowing that they get it wrong so often I was hoping they would be Easter Eggers. I still have no idea what we have but they are lovely and as you mentioned, all different shades, colors, and feather types. They are cool birds and I just LOVE their poofy cheeks! We picked out 3 one day old chicks with all different markings so the kids could tell them apart. I can’t wait till they are old enough to lay!!

Shana April 13th, 2012

yep, I got 8 “Ameraucanas” which I’m pretty sure are Easter Eggers. You know, maybe hatcheries could sell MORE if they correctly identified their birds–some people want more muted, uniform egg color and some want more diverse color! I’m all for honesty.

Natalie Bishop April 13th, 2012

We got our first Easter Egger from you guys a month ago and she is such a wonderful little thing – so friendly. She is our only chick this go round who will willingly jump into our hands – like you described in your post.

I think it’s unfair for hatcheries to be misleading in what breed you are actually receiving – thank you My Pet Chicken for being up front! :)

Lissa April 13th, 2012

Maryann also has a really beautiful, unusual Easter Egger named Perdy, pictured in her blog post here:

http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/04/11/chicken-photo-session/

Mary April 13th, 2012

Thanks for the info. When I decided to get a few chickens I did a lot of research. That’s just who I am. While researching, I did stumble upon an article about this same subject so I’m glad you too addressed this issue as well. It is very informative. Here is the article with some similar information in case others are interesting and I didn’t have to stumble upon it!! http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/2/2-3/John_W_Blehm.html

Gwen April 13th, 2012

My pet peeve about it right now is that while I have several easter eggers and love them dearly, I’m trying to add blue eggs to my egg basket. I don’t dare get any of the Americuna eggs from the local hatchery because really all I want is a couple of chickens that lay blue eggs. It’s a bit frustrating.

Lissa April 13th, 2012

Yes, I love that article, Mary! It is actually linked in the blog post. It is also linked on our website in at least one spot. That was a great article. :)

Sharon Kitashima April 13th, 2012

I totally agree, I am forever explaining to people buying chicks at feed stores the differences between Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas and Araucanas. They seem really bummed out that the Ameraucanas, really Easter Eggers, are a crossbred chicken, not purebred. I too, LOVE Easter Eggers for their diverse feather and egg coloring and always include several in my flock of 100+ “hobby” chickens.

Cat Fox April 13th, 2012

I don’t get it either. Every “Ameraucauna” that I’ve ever bought has turned out to be an EE. I do love my two current EEs. They are gorgeous and they lay like the dickens… but olive eggs, not blue. Why should the hatcheries not be called on this? They really are misrepresenting their product.

Kelly April 13th, 2012

Thanks for the informative post! I can’t wait to get some Easter Eggers from you soon. (Your friend Heather has been really kind in helping me get started.) Keep up the good work! You inspire.

Tommie Munn April 13th, 2012

Very interesting article. I’m glad I read it because truthfully your site confused me. When I looked at the breeds Americauna’s and the Easter Eggers had the same picture… Would be better to put the one from your article to show that Easter Eggers are mixed breeds and can look very different. I’m going to the hatchery next week to get some chicks. According to the person I spoke to, they are Ameriucana’s not Easter Eggers.
Thanks!

Rosemary April 13th, 2012

Thank you for the blog! my son and I were really doing a google search to see what kind of chick this was. we just started with our chickens and picked out 4 different kinds, barred plymouth rock, silver wyandotte, rhode island red and then really friendly pretty cream with a touch of brown but they had silver legs, for egg layers, we also have some we are raising for meat but i wanted good egg layers and the guy helping us said that these were friendly and good layers so we said ok. could not remember what they were called so have been looking every where and here it is. bam out of the blue they have to be EE. they are so friendly already! i think we have a very good bunch of girls and cant wait to see what color eggs we will get.

Tina Anderson April 13th, 2012

Thank you for this article! We will be getting or chicks in June and among the 9 different kinds we selected is an Easter Egger. Yes, the mutt kind. :) My 7 yr old daughter and I are putting together a binder for information on the chickens. (medical records, individual photographs of their growth, expenses, etc) Among the sections in the binder we have breed history & information. I’ll be printing off this article to go under the EE pullet’s section! :)

G. Leigh April 13th, 2012

Thank you for bringing this up! I have been really frustrated trying to get auracaunas and ameriaunicanas (sorry about the spelling there folks)

I agree that Easter eggers are awesome, but if you have a child who wants to compete in an 4-H poultry show, youy have to have a specific breed of chicken with papers.

If you can’t trust the breeders to sell you what you are trying to buy, what do you do? Even when I have asked the local farm supply if they really have auracunas or if they are actually easter eggers, all they say is ” It’s what the breeders say they are sending.”

Lissa April 13th, 2012

@G. Leigh, I agree! That situation is terribly disappointing for children in 4-H. Don’t blame your local feed store, though–they’re only going on what the hatchery they purchased from has told them. They probably purchased “Americanas” in good faith. I think if enough chicken people object to the practice, eventually other hatcheries will follow My Pet Chicken’s lead and change their ways. (Of course, I’ve been thinking that for quite a few years, now…)

Lori (Chez Poulet) April 13th, 2012

Great article, great pictures. I agree, EE’s are some of the best chickens I’ve had and I love all their color variations, hardiness and their temperament.

luther34 April 13th, 2012

I did my research when I was getting ready to get my first chicks and I found the whole Ameracauna/Araucana/Easter Egger thing annoying as well. I believe it was in a book that I read about the common mix up. But when I was trying to find a feed store that was either getting or could order certain chicks for me, they got still another breed confused with what I wanted! I would have been happy to find any of the three, but when I listed them off I was corrected with, “no, that’s ANACONA.”
:P

Myrddwn April 13th, 2012

I recently picked up two EEs, along with two Wellsumers, to add some color to my basket. I knew fully well the ‘Ameraucanas’ at the feed store were going to be Easter Egger mutts. I like the idea of know knowing exactly what kind of coloration or egg I will get, and I like the fact that they benefit from Hybrid Vigor.
I do wish hatcheries could be bothered to correctly label their mixed parentage birds as EEs. I think it’s not so much that they are trying to dupe people, I think it’s more apathy than anything, with a bit of ignorance thrown in. And maybe there is more than a little bit of ‘well, those other guys label them Ameraucanas, so we might as well’.

Michelle April 13th, 2012

I’ve tried to explain the differences to the owner of the feed store who brings in the so called Araucanas. I’ve tried to explain the difference to people I know who keep chickens. They all just shrug.

My Pet Chicken is my preferred source for chicks and eggs because that’s where I learned the difference!

Robin Hynek April 14th, 2012

Like many chicken lovers, I continue to be baffled by the practice of hatcheries calling their Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas or Americanas or any spelling of those pure bred chickens. I can only imagine that it is a convention they’ve gotten away with for so long without complaint, that it’s easier than making the change in their marketing. I have actually e-mailed Ideal to complain and suggest that they make the change, but of course their reply was vague and noncommittal. Maybe if enough customers take the time to write in and complain, they will take note and see that some of us feel it really does blemish their “integrity”.

Let me also say, like many chicken lovers I have and adore Easter Eggers! I don’t think it would hurt sales to call them what they are!

I have wanted to get a true Ameraucana for a while now and have had a terrible time finding one in my area (Los Angeles). I am waiting with bated breath for My Pet Chicken to start offering them in the Spring. I check every week. Isn’t it Spring?

Lisa Meaux April 15th, 2012

What are the chances that one of my two Easter Eggers (purchased from My Pet Chicken this past October) is laying a rich mauve-y colored egg? From observation, I know I get a beautiful blue egg almost daily from Fauna, but Flora is a bit trickier at leaving hints. I think my other three little hens (Partridge Rock, Speckled Sussex, New Hampshire Red) are laying medium brown eggs, as far as I can tell — unless one of them is the layer of the pinkish brown egg — and I never have more than the one blue egg on a given day.

Margie April 15th, 2012

This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine too! It’s dishonest and perpetuates so much misunderstanding. And, it’s the reason I bought my chicks from My Pet Chicken! I love my Easter Eggers and only regret not buying more.

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life April 20th, 2012

I started out this year with my first chicks ever and just want to say I love your blog and website. I was told I was buying two Ameracaunas and it looks like one is an EE from the looks of it but I am fine with that. Very green legs on the pullet right now. Can’t wait until they lay for me.

Beth May 4th, 2012

I have found this a very interesting topic. I purchased 6 chicks from a local farmers supply on April 12 . My first ever. I have 2 RI Reds, 2 Silver Laced Wyondotsand 2 Plymouth Rocks. I chose these cuz I did some research and they were friendly and good layers. Now I am wishing for some of these easter eggers too. Maybe next year.
I have named them all. My one rir will peck you but loves to be picked up. Rosie always has to get on to of the highest thing which right now is their waterer. With my other rir, Scarlet, stretching up and urging her to get down. She would get out if not for the wire lid on the brooder. I was so amazed when my husband who spends almost zilch time watching them was able to reach his hand down in the brooder and they let him scratch them and pick them up.
I am enjoying getting to know my chicks. Learning new things each day. Thanks MPC for your informative website!

Aslan May 14th, 2012

wow galatea is beautiful! is she buff colored? i like how light her coloring is, like she should be in a commercial for some light, decadent dessert, with the scene set on a cloud in the heavens. maybe i’m naive, but i tend to think that they are misinformed since they sell so many varieties. perhaps someone misinformed them and they never thought to do a bit of research on the matter. also, spelling isn’t everyone’s strong point. sometimes i have to stop and think where the “au” goes. i didn’t understand the difference between the three until i went to ameraucana.org. in europe, they don’t have ameraucanas, they have tailed and rumpless araucanas with the tailed variety being similar to our ameraucana (smaller head, and with a small crest, so adorable) also, people who breed faverolles sometimes call one bird a faverolle, even though, from what i understand, they originated from “faverolles” in france.

Lissa May 15th, 2012

Yes, it is Faverolles, even for the singular… and Marans are the same way. :) Galatea was a splash wheaten; she produced many beautiful chicks! I think the buff Ameraucanas are beautiful, too, but I’ve never had that color. I do have the (more or less) buff colored EE, though. That’s convinced me that I DEFINITELY need some additional buff colored birds in my flock!

Aslan May 15th, 2012

I don’t have any buff colored birds, I do like that color a lot. I think I might need one like Galatea ;)

Matt May 24th, 2012

I think this may help. I work in the dairy industry. A yogurt company can get away with labeling something yogurt, like yoplait, just because they fermented milk. But lets be honest, its not REAL yogurt, not if you asked a Bulgarian. For that particular company and its customers in the US, it IS yogurt. Then comes along a start-up company and says, ‘I’m going to make ‘yogurt’ just like the big guys. The knowledge gets watered down and a new generation of fake yogurt is born. Hatcheries are the same way. They are full of people who know how to put eggs in an incubator and the chicks in a box and if the customer doesn’t stop buying, why would they change. The only way a hatchery is going to change is if customers start demanding it and the only way that happens is if the REAL breeders educate them to be more knowledgeable than the hatcheries.

Lissa May 24th, 2012

My mom makes some amazing molasses cookies around the holidays; when I eat someone else’s cookies, I sometimes think “these aren’t REAL molasses cookies!” But that’s the “no true scotman” fallacy. They are molasses cookies; they just aren’t to my preference. (Hi, Mom!)

That’s why I’m not sure that your yogurt analogy works. I am guessing Yoplait is actually yogurt, meaning that it is milk fermented by specific yogurt cultures. I will stand corrected if that’s not the case, though! When it comes to chickens, there are actual APA (American Poultry Association) breed standards in this country that hatcheries and breeders adhere to when breeding their chickens to maintain the traits that make each a separate, unique breed. It’s not always possible to get every aspect perfect, even for breeders! But the Easter Eggers are a group of mutts–loveable mutts, mind you–and the other hatcheries must know this because they should be consulting the standards when choosing their breeding flocks. So, either the other hatcheries don’t read or care about the standards–and that’s hard to believe since they are successful with other breeds–or they don’t care about honest advertising. That’s hard to believe, too, but it seems to be the most likely explanation.

I agree that the only way the other hatcheries will change, since evidently they have no internal compass or motivation, is by customer demand. I know that the Ameraucana Breeders Club and the Araucana Club of America have contacted the other major hatcheries over and over, but they have simply been ignored. :(

Marie Husnick July 24th, 2012

I have an Auracauna. She is pure white, has green legs, and she has the cheek tufts. She almost looks like a dove. She is my beautiful little “Sassy”. If I could post a picture of her here I would.

sclinton July 24th, 2012

I don’t think it is just these breeds that some hatcheries mess up. I ordered several “production red” chicks from an online source my cousin used. I was expecting the lovely fluffy docile production reds I had previously owned before I moved and like the ones my cousin owned. I ended up with a red chicken with some black/white checkered feathers who are not particularly friendly despite hand raising and petting them and spending time with them and a very aggressive roo that looks very much like a full bred Rhode Island red and their eggs are much smaller than those I was expecting compared to my previous flock. This spring I picked up some golden sex link chicks to add to my flock and some of them grew to the very red fluffy docile hens I was expecting from my “production reds.”

sclinton July 24th, 2012

Now I really want some Easter Eggers, though. I don’t know if I can convince my husband to build yet another coop just because I want more colors of eggs. My current babies (11 hens) lay anywhere from pale pink (from my “production reds”) to dark red/brown eggs.

Marsha Elliott October 9th, 2012

I can’t wait till spring when I can order more chicks. I have five red stars already laying beautiful large red eggs. One of the r.s. lays an egg that smashes really easy. The other four are fine. I have two rs chicks and a black arucana and a white one. I can’t wait for them to start laying.

Kristen E. Martin January 8th, 2013

I wish I could post a pic of my chickens. Maybe someone would have an idea what they’re crossed with…what with the feathered legs, tufts, beards and no tails. I wondered if they would be in the EE category, since they aren’t any particular breed. One lays small gray-blue *Mom says green* eggs.

Kim March 6th, 2013

Lissa, I have three Ameraucanas,but only one has puffy cheeks now. Do they loose their puff?

Lissa March 7th, 2013

Sometimes bearded chickens lose some fluff as the season passes, but all their feathers should renew themselves during the autumn molt. There are other reasons for feather loss you can read about on our website.

Kim March 7th, 2013

Thanks! I’ll check it out. I do hope their fluff grows back; it’s so cute!

chickiemomma May 11th, 2013

we just had chicks arrive and the facility we ordered ours form labeled the easter eggers as such…we ordered ours from meyer hatchery online. they also sell ameraucana’s. a friend of mine got 3 “ameraucana’s” along with 3 each of two other breeds at the local tractor supply a couple of months ago and are most definatly easter eggers and unfortunatley for her i think all 3 might be roos im sure of 2 of the 3.. i dont like that people sell animals under a false label.

LRay August 2nd, 2013

I have bred Barred Rocks to EE and every one has puffy cheeks and lays green eggs The EE must be dominant.

Cristian Roman December 8th, 2013

How can i find an EE like the ones that look like sultans
they are gorgeous!

i never knew they all could look so different

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