Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted Jan 07, 2014
Most people purchase chickens for either their egg or meat value. This was the case as I was a first time chicken buyer. My original plan was to buy a group of five that would provide me with enough eggs that I didn't have to buy. Knowing little about breeds at the time, I met a woman who was trying to downsize her flock of Ameraucana Chickens. Since they were still quite young (2 being 4 months old and 3 being 2 months old), I handpicked five out of a group of 20 and prayed that I would have four hens and a rooster. It turned out though that I ended up with three roosters and two hens.
Since this time, I have owned many other breeds of chickens so finally I can compare the pros and cons of this breed.
Ameraucana's indeed have personality. Each chicken has an individual look and it would appear that no two look exactly the same. This was the case for our five which ranged in colors and size. The strongest rooster was a tall grew to be a tall fellow with a stature that was similar to that of a Japanese Shamo chicken, the second in command was a fat brown rooster who appeared to be only interested in food while the weakest rooster was short and stumpy with a constant serious look on his face. The hens, which we had affectionately named Kelly and Penny, looked completely different as well. Kelly seemed to have eyebrows that always creased downward to also give her a serious look while she was tall like the strongest rooster. Penny was round and plump with light brown feathers.
Their coop was a tractor coop - hand built by my husband and I so that it could easily be lifted and moved around the yard to allow fresh new grass every few days. There was more than enough space inside for 5, allowing them a stress free atmosphere with freedom while I was in the yard to watch them. In the beginning they were fed normal chicken crumble for layers but soon I switched to a diet of non-gmo chicken feed - this feed which can be requested from animal feed shops is a vegetable base feed made without the use of modified corn or soy. This diet has been a big hit with my other breeds that I keep.
As chickens, their personality is quite calm although they don't overly enjoy being picked up. They will allow their keepers to do so after trust has been established but would much prefer to stand next to you instead of you touching them. They love the underbrush of trees and their favorite place in my while garden was beneath our blueberry hedge.
They were an interesting bunch and although I planned to sell off two of the roosters, something began to affect them before I could. Ameraucanas, although I cannot say this for every chicken of this type, appear to be a weak breed very susceptible to stress and disease. When I first brought them home, they all began to show signs of coccidiosis (blood in the droppings) that had to be quickly medicated. Soon after, the second rooster began to gasp for air. It got worse and within days, he passed away. We had assumed it was gapeworm but there was no evidence in the chickens throat of it being so. Finally, Kelly began to lose weight and grow weaker and upon trying to pass her first egg, died.
I was devastated as I began to grow attached to them. My luck became worse when the main rooster was taken by a fox. All that were left were Penny and the weakest rooster, whom I named Chaku.
It was around this time, when I was so disheartened over the loss of my three that Penny began to lay her eggs with Chaku always standing protectively beside her. Penny's eggs were sky blue and the most beautiful eggs I had ever seen. She began to consistently lay each and every day, and it made me feel so much better.
Ameraucanas are, hands down, a beautiful breed with so many different looks but they have very little commercial value. They are usually lean and thin so their value for meat production is also low. Being susceptible to sickness, I don't recommend these birds to first time owners or families with young children. They are certainly backyard chickens that need plenty of care and quick action when something strange is spotted in their behavior. Their eggs are a beautiful blue and are certainly delicious but for egg production I would recommend another breed.