||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2010)|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2010)|
A white Araucana hen showing ear-tufts
|Other names||South American Rumpless|
|Country of origin||Chile|
|Multi-colour egg laying breed|
|Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus)|
The Araucana, also known in the USA as a South American Rumpless, is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. The Araucana is often confused with other fowl, especially the Ameraucana and Easter Egger chickens, but has several unusual characteristics which distinguish it. They lay blue eggs, have feather tufts near their ears, and no tail (in North America). To comply with the North American standard they must have no tail and are rumpless.
The ancestors of the modern Araucana chicken were purportedly first bred by the Araucanians (Spanish exonym for the Mapuche) of Chile—hence the name "Araucana". The Araucana is a hybrid of two South American breeds: the Colloncas (a naturally blue-egg laying, rumpless, clean-faced chicken) and the Quetero (a pinkish-brown egg layer that has a long tail and prominent ear-tufts). The males of the Quetero have loud musical voices. The Colloncas male and female are very similar, with very few secondary sexual characteristics like comb, wattles or tail coverts to distinguish them.
The European equivalent of the North American show standard variety Araucana is what one comes across in South American villages. Tejudo or "Quechua" lack ear tufts but the face is densely feathered, an adaptation against severe cold and wet. It is the progenitor of the Ameraucana. The Chaco "Crested Mapuche" exhibits a prominent crest.
The current worldwide Araucana Standard (except North America) indicates a medium- to large-sized chicken with a tail that lays bluish-green eggs. Specific features are feather ear tufts, muffs, and beards, with a very much reduced comb, a small feather crest and a complete absence of wattles. The current North American standard calls for a chicken that is rumpless (missing their last vertebrae and lacking a tail), possesses ear-tufts (feathers that grow out from near the birds' ears), and lays blue eggs. In the United States and Canada, muffs, beards, and tails are all disqualifications.
The Ameraucana should also lay blue eggs, but unlike the Araucana it has a tail and possesses muffs and a beard, which are quite different from the tufts of the Araucana, and no feather crest.
The Araucana's eggs are not more nutritious than eggs of other colors, nor do they have any negative health effects.
Suggested Polynesian origin
The origins of the blue egg is probably the most compelling aspect of the history of this breed as this character was originally unique to South America. It was unknown in Europe or Asia until the 20th century. While no species of wild junglefowl produce blue eggs, the Green Junglefowl (Gallus varius) produces slightly tinted eggs which vary from greyish white to a distinctly yellow stained-ivory. The oldest depiction's of South American fowl exhibit peculiar traits typical with some of the archaic basket bantams of the Spice Isles and Indonesia.
There has long been debate whether Araucanas were bred from chickens brought by Europeans to South America after Columbus or rather arose from chickens brought, perhaps by Polynesians, directly over the Pacific Ocean from someplace nearer to all chickens' presumed ancestral home in Southeast Asia. If Araucanas predate the Europeans in South America, their presence implies pre-Columbian, trans-Pacific contacts between Asia and South America. In 2007, an international team of scientists reported the results of analysis of chicken bones found on the Arauco Peninsula in south-central Chile, and their results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. This initial report suggested a Polynesian, pre-Columbian origin. However, a later report from the same specimens concluded:
A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia.
Nevertheless, there are numerous examples of convincing evidence that do place the domestic fowl in South America centuries before the first European arrived there. It is believed by some ethnozoologists to have been traded for the sweet potato, a Polynesian staple that originated in Peru.
The APA Araucana belong to the following Poultry Class AOSB "All Other Standard Breed" while the ABA belongs to the following class "All Other Comb Clean Leg". In Great Britain, the PCGB (Poultry Club of Great Britain) classifies it as Light, Soft Feather.
The colours recognized by the APA/ABA/PCGB are:
Araucana, Ameraucana or Easter Egger?
When the Araucana was first introduced to breeders worldwide in the mid-20th century, the genetics that produced tufts were recognized to also cause chick mortality. Two copies of the gene cause nearly 100% mortality shortly before hatching. The tufted gene is dominant, however. Because no living Araucana possesses two copies of the tufted gene, breeding any two tufted birds leads to half of the resulting brood being tufted with one copy of the gene, a quarter being clean-faced with no copy of the gene, and a quarter of the brood dead in the shell, having received two copies of the gene.
In the decades to follow, most breeders took one of two tacks—either to preserve the old style of bird, or to breed out the tufts while increasing productivity.
In 1976, the first standards for the breed were accepted by the APA, conforming to the traditional style. This was followed, in 1984, by a second standard for the "improved" variety.
In short, the differences are as follows:
- USA and Canada Araucana: tufts (lethal allele), rumpless, blue eggs, willow legs and yellow skin (with exceptions).
- US Ameraucana: beards and muffs (NO lethal gene), with tail feathers, blue eggs, slate legs and white skin.
- British, Irish, New Zealand, Asian, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, French, Spanish, Bellarus, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Argentinian, Chilean, South African, Pacific Islands, Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, Arab, Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese and Australian Araucana: beards, muffs and crest, with tail feathers, blue eggs, slate or olive/willow legs and grey/white skin.
- Easter Egger: variable traits.
|Rooster||2.7–3.2 kg||6–7 lbs|
|Hen||2.3–2.7 kg||5–6 lbs|
|Rooster||740–850 g||1.6–1.87 lbs|
|Hen||680–790 g||1.5–1.75 lbs|
- Stanford, Phil (August 24, 1990). "Now here's something to crow about". The Oregonian. p. D1.
- Storey AA, Ramírez JM, Quiroz D, et al. (June 2007). "Radiocarbon and DNA evidence for a pre-Columbian introduction of Polynesian chickens to Chile". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104 (25): 10335–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0703993104. PMC 1965514. PMID 17556540.
- Gongora J, Rawlence NJ, Mobegi VA, et al. (July 2008). "Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105 (30): 10308–13. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801991105. PMC 2492461. PMID 18663216.
- Somes Jr., R.G., Pabilonia, M.S. (1981). "Ear tuftedness: a lethal condition in the Araucana fowl". The Journal of Heredity 72 (2): 121–4. PMID 7276512.
- Araucana History in North America