Q. Do blue eggs taste different to "normal" eggs?
A. No. In blind taste tests, people couldn't tell the difference between the cheapest battery farm laid, barn laid, free range, woodland reared and home reared eggs. There is a relatively good reason for this. An egg has to have just the right balance of nutrients in to create a new chick. If the balance of protiens, vitamins and nutrients vary by just a little, chances are that the chick wouldn't form. Evolution has ensured that eggs are very consistent. Blue eggs do however look great at the kitchen table, and probably have a subliminal effect to make people think that they taste better.
Q. What's the difference between a Bantam Araucana and a Large Fowl Araucana?
A. The bantam has been bred to be an exact miniature of the full size bird. So it is smaller and lighter, and lays smaller eggs.
Q. The eggs that my Araucana's lay are not blue. They are green. Why?
A. The descendents from the birds that were brought over from South America many years ago used to lay striking blue eggs. Some breeders are trying their hardest to hatch chicks that only come from blue eggs, but because of low annual egg production, a few people have crossed an Araucana with another strain of chicken (such as a black rock) to increase egg yields. This has resulted in lots birds that lay green eggs, with the occasional blue egg layer. After careful selection, the chicks that emerge from those blue-green eggs with the prolific egg laying gene are back crossed with a "pure" blue Araucana. If the breeder is lucky, the new cross is closer to an Araucana, and lays blue-green eggs. Eventually, after a few years of careful selection, it is possible to have a 5th generation Araucana from a blue egg that is quite prolific and yet lays a pure blue, not green egg. So in a nutshell, a green egg is laid by an Araucana cross breed.
Q. Are Araucana eggs any healthier than "normal" eggs?
A. No. In around 1989 various rumours were spread around purporting the "fact" that blue eggs contain lower cholesterol and are better for you. This was deliberately misleading to enable some unscrupulous individuals and "health" organisations make exhorbitant amounts of money by charging more for blue-green eggs. In recent years, this rumour has come back again, and still isn't true. There have been a number of independent laboratory tests which have shown that there is a natural variation between all types of eggs, but no consistent clear difference. The human body produces its own cholesterol from the food we eat. This is the equivalent to about 4 average chicken eggs a day. Cholesterol in the blood is a neccessary part of human physiology, and it is needed for good health.
Q. Are Araucanas related to ducks, which also lay blue eggs?
A. No. Araucanas are chickens which have descended from the Red Jungle Fowl. Ducks are water birds which are a separate species in their own right.
Q. Are Araucanas a tough breed?
A. They are hardier to changes in environment, and can survive conditions that other fancy breeds will often become ill and die in. They have extra feathering on their head which helps to conserve body heat in cold weather. The bushy "eyebrows" also provide added sun protection enabling them to identify food particles in bright conditions. Their reduced wattles and combs also reduce the common problem of frost bite found in many other full combed breeds.
Q. Do Araucanas make good broody mother hens?
A. Yes. But not always. Depending on their genetic lineage, the trait of stopping egg production every now and then, while wanting to sit on eggs for a month has been bred out in some flocks. This was done deliberately to increase annual egg yields. The selection by breeders of birds that lay up to 250 eggs a year is quite exceptional when considering how many eggs a wild Red Jungle Fowl hen will lay. About 8 a year.
Q. Are Araucanas quieter than other breeds of chicken?
A. No. No one has ever managed to find a breed of chicken that is quieter than any other. If someone ever comes across a single bird that is quiet or even completely mute by genetic accident, they will become rich. If a chicken could be bred that doesn't "cluck" or "crow", their suitability as a household "pet" would be assured. And in urban areas, the neighbours who dislike being woken up at 4AM by a pullet telling the world that she has just laid an egg or a cockerel declaring his dominance, would be very much happier too.
Q. Where can I urgently get some pure-bred Araucana hatching eggs or live birds from?
A. The club membership list has a very extensive range of breeders and recognised champion stock holders. Most members are always trying to improve their stock and are regularly collecting and selling fresh eggs for consumption, as they are surplus to requirements. They are usually happy to either give away or swap fertile eggs with other members by post to maintain genetic diversity in their breeding program. Every year, there are also many surplus chicks available, since breeders select for particular traits. Some select for plumage, some egg colour, some size and some for prolific egg layers. Most members have some excellent examples for sale or swap. Generally, the best breed examples are held by long term members who have been selecting for years. Commercial sales or on-line auction sales should be treated with a degree of caution.
Q. Where can I get an Araucana egg colour chart from?
A. Post a cheque for £2 made out to "The British Araucana Club" to the secretary, with your name and address on the back, marked "colour chart". An egg colour chart is included for free with every new membership subscription.
Q. I'd like to show my birds. What do I need to do?
A. If you think that you have birds that are exemplary examples of the breed, most experienced members will be more than happy to show you the ropes, even if they end competing with you. There is always the hope that they may be able to borrow or swap a show winner with you so that next year, perhaps their entries will be even better. Good show stock birds can fetch a buyers premium when selling on the open market. Regular birds sell for around £20 each. Good examples have traded for over £80 in recent years.