You can go into any grocery store and buy white eggs. Most of the time you can also find brown eggs. But if you want green eggs with your ham, you have to raise Ameraucana chickens. As you can see in the picture, our hens lay eggs in a variety of shell colors, from the turquoise in the center through pale green and pinkish-tan to burnt orange. The insides are the same as white-shelled eggs, just the shells are different. We didn't get any blue-egg-laying hens out of this batch, but we're hoping that some of our next generation hens will be blue-layers.
In Spring of '98, we bought 25 Ameraucana chicks from Greenbelt Hatchery in Missouri. They arrived in mid-May. The chicks are all light brown with two dark brown stripes down their backs; someone said that they look like chipmunks. One died the first week, but the rest grew to adulthood without any problems. After their feathers grew in, we moved them from the brooding cage in the basement to the second floor of Ewe Hall, the barn where our Jacob Sheep stay. They were fed on standard developer crumbles while they were "teenagers" then moved up to the XLA super egg layer feed. We keep a small pail in the kitchen for table scraps and give them a treat of people food from time to time. They also seem to enjoy pecking on broad leaf weeds.
This breed doesn't have a standard appearance. The hen at the back of the picture has almost no comb; her feathers are white but with a patterned over-lay of dark grey feathers, which gives her a mottled look. The hen in front has a full comb and solid black feathers. Most hens are shades of brown. An Ameraucana trait is side-whiskers, little tufts of feathers on their cheeks. Some of them carry the puffy look all the way down their necks and look like they're wearing a turtle-neck sweater. Of our 11 hens, 5 lay green eggs and 6 lay tan eggs. Our theory is that egg color comes in two genes, tan or blue. If a hen has one of each, her eggs turn out green. So, in theory, if the rooster has one blue gene, a green-egg hen yields 25% blue-egg hens in her offspring. If he has two blue genes, we get 50% blue-egg hens.
The roosters also have various shades and colors. We had 13 roosters and kept three to breed. We kept one unusual white one with a black beard, a patch of black feathers under his beak. The other two are gaudy fellows, with flowing manes and iridescent green tails. They're good sized birds as well as being pretty. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we took the extra ten roosters to Heinsey's auction at Root's Market near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is a popular auction for big buyers from New York and Philadelphia. Our birds were 58 pounds as a lot of ten, or 5 pounds 13 ounces on the average. Most chickens were going for about $.40 per pound, but we got an unexpected $.84 per pound for our guys. We think that it was their exotic looks, combined with their youth and plumpness, that got the price bid up so high; they'd be real popular in the open-air ethnic markets of the big East Coast cities.
Ameraucanas are a cross between standard chickens and the Auraucana chicken from South America. For more information, check the Ameraucana Breeders Club website at http://www.ameraucana.org/.
A good source for all sorts of poultry information is the newsgroup sci.agriculture.poultry.