Baby Chicks, Backyard Chickens, Breeds

Araucana Chickens: The Original Blue Egg Layer

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am”         –Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

 

While many children read this classic story and think of green eggs as nothing more than another figment of Dr. Seuss’s incredible imagination, green eggs do in fact exist. And “Sam-I-am” does not lie – they are delicious. The green eggs at Dare2Dream Farms come from its Easter Egg chickens, which lay an olive-green egg. This beautiful, unique trait of Easter Eggers comes from its ancestor: the Araucana.

 

Green Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms

Green Eggs – Dare 2 Dream Farms

Araucanas are tufted (large feather tufts sprouting next to their ears), rumpless (without a tail), and lay blue eggs. Their history is a complicated and not quite-so-clear one. In Chile, the Araucana Indians had two native chicken breeds: Collonca chickens were small, rumpless, had a single small comb, and laid blue eggs; Quetro chickens had ear tufts, tails, a pea comb, and laid pinkish-brown eggs.  Dr. Rueben Bustos, a Chilean chicken expert, developed a breed that was a combination of these two Chilean chickens. He led Professor Salvador Castello from Spain to believe that it was a native breed, and Castello excited the poultry world when he presented this ‘native Chilean pure breed of chicken’ at the First World’s Poultry Congress in 1921. He discovered three years later that these Araucana chickens were not a pure breed, but by then word had spread and it was too late to set the record straight.

 

Many varieties of these blue-egg-laying chickens were bred in the U.S., but because no standard was yet set for a chicken to be passed as an Araucana, all of these muddled blue-egg-laying breeds became labeled as Araucana. It became falsely believed that Araucanas’ blue eggs were extraordinarily nutritious, so farmers were breeding Araucanas with every type of chicken and passing them off as Araucanas. As a result, the breed standard became very unclear.

 

In 1976 the APA set the Araucana standard to be tufted and rumpless (disqualifying all previously-labeled Araucanas that were bearded, muffed, and tailed, which went on to become labeled as American Araucanas, or Ameraucanas).

 

Splash Araucana Cockerel - Illia Chavez

Splash Araucana Cockerel – Illia Chavez

The gene that requires Araucanas to be tufted, while a necessary trait according to the standard, is a fatal one when two copies of it are passed to a chicken. If two copies of the tufted gene are inherited, a chick will almost always die in the shell. If only one copy is passed to a chicken, the chicken will not be fatally affected, but will have tufts and can pass on the gene. So when breeding two tufted Araucanas with the genes Tt (T showing the dominant tufted gene and t representing the recessive non-tufted gene), probabilities of their offspring show 25% non-tufted (tt), 50% tufted (Tt) which may qualify as Araucanas, and 25% dead in the shell (TT). If a tufted and a non-tufted Araucana are bred, the probabilities of their offspring are 50% non-tufted (tt), and 50% tufted (Tt)Either way, most likely less than half of the offspring may be labeled as Araucana according to standard.

 

The Araucana is a calm, friendly chicken. In its true form according to standard, it is very rare to find, and very expensive to acquire. It serves a dual purpose of being a good layer of blue eggs, and providing a good amount of meat. The Araucana’s relative is most commonly seen in the form of an Easter Egger, which is loosely defined as any chicken possessing the blue-egg-laying gene. These chickens lay blue, green, or pink eggs. For really green eggs, Olive Eggers can be bred using any chicken carrying the blue egg gene, and any dark brown egg laying chicken such as Marans, Barnevelders, or Welsummers.

 

Marans, Easter Egger, and Olive Egger Eggs - Dare 2 Dream Farms

Marans, Easter Egger, and Olive Egger Eggs – Dare 2 Dream Farms

 

 

 

Are you reading this, and getting hungry? Nothing fills the stomach better than some green eggs and ham. And now you know where those green eggs come from!

 

Written by: Rachel Frenkel

Edited by: Megan Raff

 

Resources:  

“Easter Egger Club of America.” EasterEggers.Com. Easter Egger Club of America, n.d. Web. 19 June 2013.

Orr, Richard A. “A History of the Ameraucana Breed and the Ameraucana Breeders Club.” Ameraucana History. Ameracauna Breeders Club, 1998. Web. 19 June 2013.

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

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Baby Chicks, Backyard Chickens, Farming, WWOOF USA

Our Farm’s First WWOOFers

As a couple of young farmers, we get a lot done during the day. This year we have been so blessed that we are staying really busy and we’ve almost reached the point where we couldn’t continue to move forward with our business because we were spending nearly all of our 7 day work weeks on farm management and sales. In November, we visited a farm in Santa Barbara owned by a couple friends of ours, Kevin and Lauren Hanson, who are trying to revive an old avocado orchard. They had a group young, spunky, and passionate people out there working happily to help them reach their goals – WWOOFers. I had heard of the program, and loved the idea, but never imagined we had the capacity to open up our farm for work-stays. Kevin gave us the rundown and it sounded too good to be true. We dragged our feet of course, not sure how to provide them with a place to stay, and then got a call from a couple of women who wanted to come work. We threw together an old motorhome with cute thrift store finds, and voila! Jeremy picked them up from another farm in Carmel Valley. The were soon after joined by their friend.

 

We have had such an amazing experience with them! Since they are our first WWOOFers, we are delighted to share it with you. For those of you who are not familiar with WWOOF – it stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a work-stay program designed to connect people with host farms in a mutually beneficial working relationship where knowledge and skills are shared. The program has a chapter in almost any country you can think of, including WWOOF-USA. This is where we get to thank the WWOOF Organization as a whole and WWOOF-USA specifically for creating an environment rich in knowledge and growth that grooms our future generations of farmers, or even just our future generations of responsible citizens!!

 

Our first WWOOFers came to California from Georgia. Their names are Katie, Brooke, and Chaz – and they have been so helpful! Katie is excellent at gardening, Brooke has a great eye for photography, and Chaz has learned he has a knack for construction. They’ve all learned to drive manual transmission, how to care for chickens, build coops, and so much more.

 

We’ve also had a great time with them: homemade pasta nights, a seven mile hike with the puppies, corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day, getting baby pigs, sightseeing trips to Los Angeles, and game nights. And tomorrow morning we will be milking goats in Santa Barbara with one of our favorite people, Emma Fowler with the Isla Vista Food Co-op, and catching a Jalama Burger on the way home to catch our first hatch of Lavender Orpingtons and Olive Eggers for the year. Life is good. The girls will be with us until March 28th, and Chaz will be here until April 10th. Then we will be looking for our next set of WWOOFers… any volunteers?

 

For fun, here is a peek at one of the pictures Brooke took with our Canon 50D.

 

 

And, as I promised! The winner for the Free T-Shirt from our last blog is Tammy! Please email me with your address and preferred size, and it will ship to you on April 10th. If you didn’t win, you have until the end of the month to Pre-Order your Dare 2 Dream Farm T-Shirts! 

 

Thanks for your support everyone!

Baby Chicks

Raising Baby Chicks

Springtime is upon us again… it’s baby chick season! Lots of us will begin to entertain the idea of raising chicks at home – even those of us who do it for a living (yes, I’m writing this with a 1 week old baby Blue Cochin on my shoulder named Elle). or those who’ve not yet had the pleasure, here is a quick tutorial on getting set up. Please, remember they are indeed very fragile as babies, and do need special care. The joy of introducing children to baby chicks is wonderful but this is not a task for young children without supervision.

 

What you’ll need:

  1. Heat lamp
  2. Brooder box: This can be made out of anything you have laying around such as large cardboard boxes, large plastic storage containers, large metal water troughs, etc.)
  3. Bedding: We recommend pine shavings but there are also other alternatives. Just be sure to avoid cedar shavings.
  4. Chick feeder and chick waterer: There are all different sizes and styles of feeders and waterers. It is best to use ones designed for baby chicks which help prevent them from soiling or spilling their food and water source, and also prevent them from drowning in it.
  5. Chick starter crumbles
  6. A warm place inside

 

Setting up:

Find a place inside to set up your brooder box that is insulated and remains a fairly constant temperature. Garages can be drafty and often prove to be difficult places to maintain the right temperature.  Depending on the box you’ve chosen, you may want to consider setting down an old sheet, tarp, newspapers, or rags underneath the box to prevent spilled feed, water, or shavings from soiling your carpets or floors. Put approximately 1-2 inches of bedding in the bottom of the brooder box. Attach your heat lamp to the corner of the box or to a surface nearby the brooder box. Place the chick feeders and waterers in the box away from the heat lamp. If you can, prop the feeders and waterers up on small bricks, blocks, pavers, or other items to raise them a bit above the bedding to help prevent soiled bedding from being scattered into their food and water source. When you settle in your new chicks into their brooder box, it is a good idea to dip their beaks in the water so they know where it is. 

 

For more information about what to look for, cleanliness, and what temperature to keep them at, visit our website page on Raising Baby Chicks.

 

For information on our brooder packages that include baby chicks and everything you need to raise them, visit our website page on Brooder Packages.