Ameraucana, Araucana, Cream Legbar - Ont., Canada

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by silvenes, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. silvenes

    silvenes In the Brooder

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    Mar 10, 2018
    Ontario, Canada
    Good morning all,

    Does anyone know of any breeders/hatcheries that would sell blue egg layers, preferably as pullets/hens? I'm in south-western Ontario, for reference.

    As a side question, I've been told that chicks or hatching eggs would likely be my only option for any of the above breeds, and that pullets/hens are extremely uncommon. I have noticed that the FB groups I'm a part of only rarely have blue egg layers, and it's definitely easier to get hatching eggs than pullets/hens.

    I'm reluctant to get straight run chicks because we live in a semi-urban area which does allow roosters, but would absolutely drive our neighbours, and my husband, nuts. In our first flock we got a straight run and culled the roosters, and we're not in a rush to do that again (honestly, just more work than we want as we did it ourselves, and you still have cockerels learning to crow until they're large enough to cull). So we'd both prefer to set ourselves up for the best chance possible of avoiding roosters with our next purchase.
     
  2. Eelantha

    Eelantha Chirping

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    Quebec (Qc)
    Being new to the chicken world myself, I don't know many hatcheries and even less breeders personally. The latter are very hard to find: I'm in Quebec and will have to order half my future flocks from hatcheries deep within US borders just to get the breeds I want. Fortunately for you, you live closer to the US border so maybe you'll find a breeder or hatchery close enough to your place that you can drive to them. From what little experience I have, you're more likely to fetch pullets and hens if you can meet your seller in person by car's drive than if you order a breed by mail. Mail ordering will usually land you with fertilized eggs and/or chicks.

    I'm pretty new to hatcheries in general, so I can't tell you alot about them except that in order to provide high quantities of quality birds, they will sell day old chicks instead of pullets or hens to ensure no disease or parasite transmission between flocks. One hatchery I read about today did sell pullets, but each where over 100$ and none were blue egg layers. If you want blue egg layers, you either have to get them from local amateurs and small breeders close to your neighborhood. They're the only ones who can offer grown pullets if they have some in stock, but beware their purity - especially in Ameraucanas, the breed only comes in specific colors and anything else with Ameraucana traits and blue eggs whose plumage don't fit one of the standard colors will be seen as an Easter or Olive Egger (a crossbred, whose roosters might be harder to sell away unless you don't mind turning them into broilers). The various shades of blue of your hen's eggs can vary on what parents she has, going from light blue, turquoise, light green to mint and light/dark olive colors. If you want true blue eggs, target purbloods in hatcheries or certified breeders close to your house; they usually have very high standards and it shows in the chicks they send you when they get to laying age. If you don't mind a colorful basket of eggs varying in shades of blue and green, purebreds and crosses are both for you.

    Here, a few sites to pull info from:

    http://ameraucanaalliance.org/photos.html
    http://standardbreedpoultry.com/poultry_links.php
    http://standardbreedpoultry.com/large_fowl_chickens_for_sale.php

    I hope that helps! ^^
     
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  3. silvenes

    silvenes In the Brooder

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    Mar 10, 2018
    Ontario, Canada
    Thank you for such a detailed response - the websites are extremely helpful.

    I am trying to find a local breeder (I'm using that term loosely here to mean most of Ontario) and have found one, who seems very reliable. She's certainly very passionate about her birds, which makes me feel confident in what she's telling me. She had mentioned, though, that it's unlikely to find pullets/hens so I wanted to confirm a bit before buying chicks.

    What you've mentioned is exactly my concern with purchasing from hatcheries. Birds are being marketed as Ameraucanas that aren't, and it's difficult to confirm. I have easter eggers right now, and they're wonderful, but I'd like to get a few purebreds, both because I love the look of the bird, and because I'd like the egg colour. The websites will definitely help me be able to identify the difference.

    As an aside, I had noticed that there's quite a number of small breeders of a variety of heritage types out towards Quebec. Are you in the Ontario Poultry FB group? It's really helpful, and I do often seen Quebec posts, probably because of proximity. I'm heading out to Quebec soon to visit family and have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to drive past these breeders, if my current hunt doesn't pan out.
     
  4. Eelantha

    Eelantha Chirping

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    Quebec (Qc)
    I'm happy that you were lucky in finding a passionate breeder! Hopefully I'll find some in Maines or a country equally close or even within canadian borders to order from, the closer to Quebec the better as it's where I live.

    Ameraucanas... from what I understand of the internet (correct me if I'm wrong), people confuse them alot with their rumpless, tail-lacking cousins the Araucanas, so the term Easter Egger is most likely used by Americans to help differenciate Ameraucanas from Araucanas in their countries. But in Quebec I find it has a different meaning.

    Ameraucanas are referred to as purebred, blue-laying chickens with beards and tails that come in 8 different standard plumages whose pictures you can find on the Ameraucama Alliance site I linked you to above. Their plumages are as follow: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten and White. The site also gives an egg color reference sheet like for marans, except this one is for Ameraucanas and their varying shades of blue. The bluer the egg, the better. (Ameraucana page with pics, taken from Feather Site: https://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGA/Arau/BRKAmer.html)

    As for Araucanas, I thought at first from what I gleaned around me that they were green egg layers, easily recognizible by their lacks of tails and the twin mustaches found on their faces. But when I look at our American neighbors, I read alot that they are actually blue egg layers, not green ones. Araucanas also have alot more varieties in plumage than Ameraucanas, which would explain the general confusion over who is what when you end up with Easter Eggers, also known as Ameraucanas. (Araucana page with pics, taken from Feather Site: https://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGA/Arau/BRKArauTrue.html )

    Easter Eggers (what I've learnt through my own searches, anyway - correct me again if I'm wrong here) are the result of a specific cross between at least one Ameraucana or Araucana parent and a beige, white or brown layer. The goal is to make a hybrid that gives a different egg color to the Ameraucana or Araucana parent, going from light blue to dark olive and beyond.

    However in Quebec, Ameraucana and Araucana hybrids (mostly Ameraucana, as it's a very popular breed over here) bear different names depending on the egg color they lay: Easter Eggers are beige over blue egg layer hybrids, and usually lay out light blue eggs. One must keep in mind that since this is a cross, half the resulting chicks will lay light blue (thus meriting the title of Easter Egger), while the rest lay beige and (possibly) pure dark blue eggs in equal parts. Those are 'failures', thus harder to sell off since they're crosses with the wrong genetics - mostly roosters, as hens aren't a total loss since they still produce eggs... just the wrong color, and by default, have the wrong breeding genetics, so aren't great candidates for reproduction. Most of those failed crosses often end up in the cooking pot due to no one wanting them, since they can't sell their offsprings easily when they do reproduction. Only the non-informed and those who don't care or don't mind about standards sell those kinds of Ameraucanas, who are usually descendants of failed crossbred Easter Eggers, re-crossed with successful Easter Egger Ameraucana hybrids.

    To clarify things, in Quebec (and maybe in the US too, I've not searched deep enough to confirm yet), depending on which parent you breed with your pureblood Ameraucana, you get either an Easter Egger (if the egg is light blue) or an Olive Egger (if the egg has an olive color rather than a blue color.)

    To get an Easter Egger, you breed a beige/tinted rooster over your Ameraucana hen. (Ameraucana male over beige/tinted female is also possible, though the color might differ a bit.)
    To get an Olive Egger, you breed a brown-egg rooster over your Ameraucana hen. (Ameraucana male over brown-egg female is also possible, though the olive shade might be lighter rather than darker.)

    The darker the brown genes, the better the olive shade for Olive Eggers. For this reason, most of them are made from Ameraucanas (or Araucanas, if in the US) crossed with Marans, though Welsummers, Barnevelders and Penedesenca are rumored to be good replacements. However, none have been known to achieve the unbeaten olive shade of the chicks that come from the equally unbeaten purebred Marans. (each of the breeds I listed here can be found on Feather Site by the way, if you want visuals.) Beige/tinted chickens are varied in colors and shades, so the parent that participated in the creation of the Easter Egger can be just about any beige egg-laying bird known to mankind. The quest to find out who is the father (or the mother...) can take you a lifetime, unless you know scientists and are willing to pay them to figure out your bird's mix-mashed bloodline.

    To make it easier to understand, here are come charts I found while searching about all those hybrid crosses known as Easter and Olive Eggers - the best way to tell who is what is by looking up their colorful egg charts plus the Ameraucana's official American Standards.

    - http://mmeggs.com/egg-colors/
    - https://scratchcradle.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/gms3-breeding-for-other-egg-colors/
    - https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/203647214377226906/
    - http://www.chickinboots.com/2017/07/whats-difference-ameraucana-vs-easter.html
    - And because I've literally just found this by looking up the above egg charts (thank you, BYC), you might want to go here for more info about all those crosses our poor Ameraucana birds are subjected to xD : https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/the-olive-egger-thread.131131/page-698#post-13373494
    The species I've found time and again (only mid to heavy breeds, as they're the ones I'm looking for) in Quebec are: Chanteclers, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Light Columbian Sussex, brown hens (from industrial hatcheries), White Leghorns (again from industrial hatcheries), Rhode Islands, Buff Orpingtons, Brahmas, Cochins, Silkies, Ameraucanas (usually Easter Eggers, I've yet to find a serious breeder close to my home that's not two to six hours' drive away), leg-feathered Black Copper Marans, Wyandottes, some Harcos, and many, many, many bendies (crosses of unknown origins) of all kinds, shapes, sizes and colors in the barns of most farmers around the capital itself. (I've personally gone and knocked from door to door hoping to find more varieties in my blind searches for professional breeders, but from what I've glimpsed not all farmers care about standards or even where their chickens come from.... they have them for eggs and meat, and that's it.)

    I am in no official poultry group. I'm just a Quebecan rookie backyarder who inherited chickens upon moving houses, and found myself a need to make a personal list of breed furnishers when it quickly became clear that in Quebec, it was hard to hear of or even get ahold of one in the first place (same thing for vets). I've spent the last two years tracking down possible breeders through internet adds and calling or visiting them personally to see if they were serious, but save for the breeds listed above and some bantam specie (Faverolles, Polonaises, Sebrights and Old Englishs), I haven't found much else. To my personal knowledge, we have plenty of brown-egg layers, just as many beige-egg layers, only one blue-egg layer (the Ameraucana), and only one white-egg layer (the industrial white Leghorn). For green eggs, people prefer to make Olive Eggers rather than order Isbar chicks. If there are Isbar breeders as well as people who breed different white-egg laying chickens to the Leghorns in the capital of Quebec or its surrounding towns, I haven't found them yet. (my search stops before Montreal, Saguenay Lac St-Jean and Rimouski to respect to limited budget I have to drive around, so it's possible I might find something beyond that. Maybe.)

    If you're looking for a Quebecan hatchery that sells something else other than the basic brown or white hen and meat chicken, the only one I know of for having been referred to it four times is Jean-Guy Chabot's farm, found here (it's in French.): http://jeanguychabot.com/accueil.asp

    Exotic breed-wise, I think this man is our biggest supplier, with 16 large fowl breeds and 16 bantam breeds to provide people all over Quebec. And yes, he does sell Ameraucanas, though what plumage I have no idea as I haven't asked yet.

    Group-wise, the only one I know of is the Association Québécoise de la Volaille Chantecler, as the Chantecler is our patrimonial chicken on top of being an endangered species, and thus, has a big place in the backyards of most chicken entheusiasts. Which members are part of that association though, I have no idea beyond a certain André Auclair, whose address I found in Standard Breed Poultry's white Chantecler list of available breeders on Quebecan soil. There are many more Chantecler breeders of course, but those you will find more on kijiji, lespacs and other selling sites ^^

    When you say 'Heritage Breeds' what chicken species are you referring to when you say you found many of them in Quebec?
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  5. silvenes

    silvenes In the Brooder

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    Mar 10, 2018
    Ontario, Canada
    Ah, that's fascinating - thank you for all that information! I've just started reading about the breeding patterns, and resulting egg colours, mostly because of my search for Ameraucanas, and the tendency, at least in Ontario, to pass off Easter Eggers as Ameraucanas. Really, there's lots of Easter Eggers being passed off as all sorts of different types around here. We also get the "Americana", too, which can be very misleading. All that said, I won't be keeping any roosters so I will never get to experience the joys of a breeding program.

    In Ontario Araucanas seem extremely rare, and Ameraucanas just slightly less so. Where I live right now is near a few areas where Fur and Feather events get held (what we call our poultry and small livestock fairs and sales), so it seems like there's more breeders within 1.5 hrs driving, which is pretty well my max drive limit. That said, its still quite difficult to find things beyond the production breeds of whites and browns. Sometimes I see those posts about all the breeds that seem available in the States and I get chicken envy. I haven't helped myself, though, as I don't own an incubator, and I probably won't ever because I do need to keep myself to a small backyard flock of 10 or so. I could see an incubator being trouble.

    To your point about breeders not being worried about Standards; yes, that's an issue here. I'm just keeping pets, so I'm not concerned about them being perfect, but I do want them to be true to the standards (not mixed, if that's not what I agreed to). As I mentioned before, there's lots of Easter Eggers being passed off as Ameraucanas, sometimes Araucanas, and basically any other colourful breed. "Heritage breed" here basically refers to any chicken that is hatched from eggs produced by breeds of chickens recognized by the American Poultry Breed Standard before the 20th century. It's basically any of the non-commercial breeds, I find, and many are endangered or rare. Pretty much all of the breeds you've mentioned would be considered Heritage here.

    We do have Performance Poultry here, which is really similar to the breeder you recommended. As for the breeders I was thinking of stopping at, they're along my drive to Montreal, though I know them by name, not farm name. The locations would not be convenient for you as they're mostly still in Ontario, but there's an extremely popular one in Oshawa, Ottawa, and Cornwall that I was thinking I'd reach out to before leaving, simply because we drive past those places. I've also seen a few in Montreal and just north of Montreal (though I can't remember the exact city), and I, personally, was just going to ask the group for recommendations shortly before the trip.

    I can imagine it's a bit frustrating not being able to find the kind of breeder you're looking for. It certainly has been on my end, though at least my Ameraucana quest seems over (now to sort out Silkies). I will say, White Chantecler seem very popular here too! I've been seeing lots of posts in the many livestock and poultry groups I'm in now! They beautiful birds.
     
  6. Eelantha

    Eelantha Chirping

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    Mar 11, 2018
    Quebec (Qc)
    Haha, welcome to the club of people who end up thoroughly confused over our poor Ameraucanas' origins, with Easter Eggers and Araucanas being a frequent cause for head scratches and doubts xD Just retain that Araucana are 'whisked' (my term), rumpless (or tail-less) birds, while the standard Ameraucana has a beard, a tail, blue-black feet, and only 8 plumage varieties. Easter Eggers are crossbreds, hybrid birds of all sizes, colors and shapes bearing the blood of a blue egg-layer along with either a white, beige or brown egg layer. Once you manage to remember these main differences between the breeds, you'll do much better at telling who is what whenever someone presents you a chicken that's said to lay blue eggs.

    If the specimen has no tails and/or whiskers, it's an Araucana. That's how I check 'em.
    If the bird has a beard, black/grey shanks and a tail, it's either an Easter Egger or an Ameraucana (in which case, check the bird up for one of the 8 colors the standard Ameraucana comes into). If the bird has a standard plumage on top of the Ameraucana traits, it's quite possibly a purebred. In which case, check and see if your provider can show you an egg of the hen in question, so you can size up her blue coloring on the Ameraucana's color reference scale. The color of the egg should give you a general answer on the amount of purity the specimen has in its blood.
    If the chicken has odd combinations (whiskers + tail, beard + no tail, tail + beard but big size body on top of colorful plumage, etc), all the clues point to an Easter Egger. Those are easy to recognize three times out of four - they're usually very exotic birds due to their mixed genes, random traits, egg color and colorful plumages.

    I've read the name a few times, without ever really getting clear info about it... what exactly is an Americana? o.o

    If you order from hatcheries, you won't get fertilized eggs but day-old chicks by mail. The problem won't be about the incubator being trouble, but about being overrun with chicks - most hatcheries have a minimum rate of sold chicks (3-5-15-25 or even more), so if you're a small backyarder whose coop can only contain 10 hens, you'll have alot of extra babies to sell off with crossed fingers that they find a home xD

    This is one of the reasons why I haven't tried anything yet in USA hatcheries - I only have place for around 9-10 hens of my own, trying to get different breeds from different hatcheries all into my coop might be trouble if I can't find anybody to take the extra babies off my hands. I only need one specimen (maybe two) of a race, not five and even less fifteen!

    Hmm... well to be honest, most heritage breeds found in my place are thriving, especially the Light Sussex, Plymouth Rock, Brahma, Cochin, Orpingtons and Wyandotte. Ameraucanas are incredibly popular too, though in their case I might as well call them Easter Eggers for the most part as they mostly come in multi-colored plumages. We have alot of Silkies too, they serve as brooding hens for those who can't afford an incubator to reproduce their poultry. The only downside is that they are a bit TOO motherly... and try to brood many times a year, from what I've heard from farmers who have some. If you want a Silkie I think you'll get bombarded with a dozen, if only to relieve a few weary farmers of the daily struggles to collect their eggs once they decide to brood xD

    Otherwise, if you want a Heritage Breed found in Quebec that broods well... Sussex, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, Brahmas, Cochins and bendies - they're all good choices. Chanteclers unfortunately do not brood (at least the white ones don't do it that often, though the partridge Chanteclers have been reported to brood. I don't know about the Buff and Black Chanteclers, though.)

    Performance Poultry - I knew that hatchery was in ontario somewhere but didn't remember the name, or I'd have linked you to it in my las message (It's the first hatchery I found on the internet). I'm looking at some of its breeds enviously and even consider ordering from them, except the five female and straight-run chick minimum limit is a buster for me. Do you know if the Cuckoo Marans they sell are clean or feather-legged? (I'm looking for the clean-legged variety, as I live in mountains where it rains often in summertime - it would leave feather-legged Marans with soaked shanks and prone to parasite infestations.)

    Can I ask for recs fro you, of the breeders you plan on visiting on your way to Montreal - who they are, and what they sell for chickens? I've not looked beyond Trois-Rivières south of Quebec, maybe there are breeds in Ontario I am unaware of, and could be looking for.

    It's very frustrating actually, as I want to make myself a colorful basket of eggs from equally varied and colorful breeds of chickens. I can find beige/tint/cream egg layers just fine, brown layers are overrun with the basic brown hen for the most part, Easter Eggers are our sole blue egg-layers, clean-legged Marans are a whole challenge of their own to find and buy, and if I can't get one I can't get my Olive Eggers either. (I could buy some from around me, but they're bound to be feather-legged.) Last but not least, on the white egg-laying business the industrial white Leghorn is Queen of the Nest, if I want variety I only have asiatic breeds to look at, and they're either skittish/flighty or unfit for cold weather, sometimes all three traits at once. Meaty, medium-size cold-hardy white egg-laying birds are nowhere to be seen in Canada, which surprises me because we are big white egg eaters and the Leghorn, while an excellent layer, is not fit for our climate with its big single comb and lean body.

    And from what I've seen on the internet, it seems that white egg-layers with meat on their bones and a great resistance to cold climates are pratically non-existent. The only ones I've heard of are the Lamona, said to be almost extinct (the last specimens are being kept hidden from the public, by Feather Site's guess) and even GreenFire Farms don't have any to sell, which says alot because those guys specialize in the reproduction of rare, endangered poultry breeds. Otherwise the only other cold-hardy, meat poultry that's said to lay white eggs is the California Grey chicken, a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster x White Leghorn hen hybrid I read about on Cackle Hatchery's summary of the California White chicken. The options really aren't that big when I look at it, and they all inevitably include the White Leghorn in one way or another. *sigh*

    Other options for chicken varieties that lay white eggs are the 55 Flowery Hens, the Bresses and the Orloffs, but they're all rare breeds I've only found in the USA. Again, the minimum number of chicks to order is a problem for me, because if I order a minimum of six different breeds to get my six different plumages and egg colors, I'll get five times that number in my coop... and have neighbors knocking at my door, asking questions about all the noise coming from my backyard in a few weeks' time. It's really not the ideal situation xD
     

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