Araucana the Main Roost

Araucana History in North America

The “Araucana” as we know was never a true breed even in South America where it originated.

The Araucana Indians also known as the Mapuche Indians of Chile had two breeds of chickens which they raised. One was called the “Collonca”, which was a small bird with a very small single comb, no tail, also known as rumpless, and laid blue eggs. The other was called “Quetro” which was known to have a peculiar stammering crow. The Quetro was a small bird that had tufts, a peacomb, a tail, and laid brown eggs.

Tufts, rumplessness and blue eggs occasionally occurred when a rumpless bird was crossed with a tufted, tailed bird, but these offspring were rare. The latter were called “Collonca de Artes” meaning “Collonca with earrings”.

Dr. Rueben Bustos, a poultry expert in Chile, had himself developed a strain of the so called Collonca de Artes, and wrote about them in his country, in 1914. Dr. Bustos’ birds were the product of years of selective breeding. They were described as blue egg layers; small single combed; red eyed; clean legged; all the birds were rumpless with earrings.

In 1914, the esteemed Professor Salvador Castello Carreras, a Spanish poultry expert, and headmaster of the royal official school of poultry industry in Spain, Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, had observed and photographed some Collonca de Artes at an exhibition in Santiago, and later he reported on these birds in 1921 in a paper to the First World’s Poultry Congress in the Hague, Holland, and proposed the name “Gallus Inauris” which was accepted.

The word Gallus Inauris is Latin. In the National Geographic they translate the word Gallus by a Comb but from what I can find the Latin word Gallus means Cock, Rooster. The word Inauris corresponds to Ear-rings. This name is totally appropriate to describe our Araucana.

This news from Professor Salvador Castello Carreras caused a flurry of excitement throughout the poultry world. At the time he did not realize the “breed” he had seen and described was not a native fowl of Chile but rather the cross of two fowls. But that rather Dr. Rueben Bustos birds were the products of many years of selective breeding. In 1924 Professor Castello corrected himself but by then the wave of interest in these birds had already begun.


Development of the Araucana as a breed in North America


In North America a breed is not recognized as such until the APA or ABA decrees it.


As far as know; The first description of the Araucana to be published in the United States was by John Robinson in the Poultry Journal of 1923, another article featuring rumpless and tufted Bantam Araucana pictures can be found in the book "Popular Breeds of Domestic Poultry", published by the Poultry Journal Publishing Company, Dayton, Ohio, 1924 ".

Later, in 1925, Mr. Keller of the PrattExperimental Farm in Pennsylvania wrote about his small flock the first Araucanas imported to the USA. The earliest imports were mostly of selected rumpless and tufted varieties.

In April 1927 the National Geographic published an article "The races of domestic fowl" as well as pictures of paintings under the title "Fowl of the old and new world". One of the paintings depicted tufted, rumpless Araucana just as first described by Professor Salvador Castello Carreras in his 1921 paper.

In September 1948 the National Geographic published another article, "Easter egg chicken". In this article they mention that the Araucana was first imported to the United State and bred successfully by Mr. Ward Brower Jr. According to the story, his correspondence with the Department of agriculture indicated that not a single living Araucana existed in the US; two breeders were known to have owned them, but their birds had all died. He then decided to import them directly from Chile. In the autumn of 1930, he received 3 sad looking chickens more dead than alive. He described them as a rooster with obvious Dominican blood, a hen with RIR, and the other with RIR and Barred Plymouth Rock. One was rumpless and all had the feather "whisker" trade mark of the Araucana.
Were the two unnamed breeders in the National Geographic story the same as the above from the Poultry Journal? The book "Popular Breeds of Domestic Poultry seems to support the theory that at least one of them might be.
By this time, the Araucana had become a much sought after novelty for the blue egg as well as for her peculiar look. This was due in part to publicity by the above article “Easter Eggchicken” and unfounded statements and rumours promoting the Araucana egg as being low in cholesterol, which was greatly exaggerated to say the least.

Since the blue egg gene is a dominant gene and responding to a general demand, commercial hatcheries were easily able to outcross the blue egg laying Araucana with everything else and sell their progeny as “Araucanas”, when they were anything but. We can’t really blame the hatchery for this practice, since at the time there was no officially recognized Standard in North America for the Araucana. Unfortunately this practice is still being used today by many hatcheries, which in my opinion shows a lack of ethics since the Araucana standard has been officially recognized by both the APA & ABA for years. And, what is being sold in most hatcheries under the term Araucana is far from corresponding to our recognized standard.


Working towards the acceptance of a Standard


The (ABA) American Bantam Association was the first poultry organization in North America to recognize our Araucana in 1965. In those days the Araucana was recognized by different categories: Rumpless-Tufted, Rumpless-Clean-Faced, Tailed-Tufted in the following varieties Black, White, Black Breasted Red “Wild Type as in OEG”, Silver, Blue and Buff.

Breeders then produced what they each believed the Araucana should be. Each had their own idea of what an “Araucana” should look like. Among them was what became our Araucana today and what became the Ameraucana, the bearded muffed tailed birds, but both of these were far from being standardized.

Until 1976  Year when the APA recognized the Araucana as a breed, there were breeders specializing and developing both, the tufted rumpless type, the Araucana as we know today, the bearded muffed and tailed type, as well as everything in between. Great efforts were made by a few dedicated breeders to standardize their own preferred types of Araucana. Each group sought adoption of their own version of a type for the Araucana breed. This set the stage for much misunderstanding and ill-feelings, which I am glad to say is a remnant of the past for today’s breeders. In those days all of the above types were being advertised and shown as Araucana.

Responding to such breeding efforts and the very widespread discontention, the APA in 1974, under the direction of Pres. John Freeman, entered the fray in order to attempt to define just what an Araucana was. At the 1975 APA Convention in Pomona, CA, the Araucana breeders were invited to present their case and a “Qualifying Meet” was set up. They were represented by a group called “Action for Araucana”. This group presented four different proposed Standards to the APA, but not one could be accepted because not one of the “Standards” conformed to even one of the types presented there to be “qualified”. The Judges then followed the only guide they had, Mr. Robinson’s 1923 description of the Araucana. Basically the same description as what Professor Castello had described earlierat the 1921 First World’s Poultry Congress in Hague. The APA Standards Revision Committee was then directed to proceed to develop a Standard for the Araucana.

In 1976, the APA accepted the description recommended by the Standard Revision Committee, which required the Araucana to be tufted and rumpless, similar to Dr. Bustos developed strain of Collonca de Artes, thereafter formally disqualifying all birds which were bearded, muffed, and tailed and everything in between. They were recognized in the following varieties Black, White, Black Breasted Red "Cubalaya type Wheaten", Golden Duckwing “OEG wild type" Silver Duckwing “OEG wild type"

In 1977 even after adoption of that Standard, the “American Araucana Breeder’s Association” was still attempting to get acceptance of an APA Standard that would include both tufted and bearded, rumpless and tailed. But that organization soon folded, without success. The new Araucana Standard clearly was adopted as a goal to be achieved in future breeding; as no such type and varieties had yet been qualified.

Inevitably, after the adoption of the APA “Araucana” Standard in 1976, those breeders who had been carefully breeding and improving the bearded muffed types of Araucana were left out in the cold. Nevertheless those bearded types were continuing to be shown, as Araucana sometimes as American Araucana, which lead to the development of the “AMERAUCANA” Standard.

In the 1980’s Both the APA & ABA realized that it was in the fancies best interest that both Standards achieve the same result even if not always using the same words. The Standard Unification Effort was mutually agreed upon by ABA Pres. Johnny Batson & APA Pres. Harry Halbach at Shawnee, OK. at an ABA meet. Ever since the ABA & APA have been working towards the unification of their standards and year after year progress is being made. In the late 1990’s under this same unification effort the Chairman of the ABA standard committee Mr. August Vinhage proposed that the ABA adopt the APA version standard form of one kind of Araucana. The change was voted in and was finally reflected in the latest version of the ABA Standard circa 1999. Today all fanciers and Araucana breeders are benefiting from the conviction of these men to realize a common standard no matter how unpopular at the time.

Note: A proper qualifying meet was never held by either the APA or the ABA for the Araucana; nevertheless, the breed was accepted and recognized by both organizations with different varieties from each organization. The ABA did hold a qualifying meet for the Bantam Ameraucana in 1980 and a subsequent one was held for different Bantam Ameraucana varieties at the first combined ABA/APA national show at Columbus, Ohio, in 1983. However, a qualifying meet was never held for the Standard size Ameraucana. The APA adopted what both organizations had recognized as Bantam and translated it for large fowl.

As you can see our Araucana and the Ameraucana history is so closely intertwined that one could not be told without referring to the other.

I would like to thank the following people and Associations for their contribution

Mr. Mike Gilbert, ABC “Ameraucana Bantam Club”,
Mr. August Vinhage, ABA “American Bantam Association

By Richard Collard

Further information can be send to Araucana at shaw dot ca  
(Replacing the at = @   and the dot = .  and leaving no space between words)


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