Am I Hallucinating, or are those Blue Eggs?
I was in the local supermarket one day to pick up a few items when something caught my eye in the dairy case and made me stop and stare. Blue eggs! I really wanted to break one to see what color the yolks would be. Just a little tiny crack, nothing major…. Then I saw the price, which was staggeringly high for only ½ dozen eggs, and decided that the store people might not appreciate that very much. After that naughty thought, I began to wonder what sort of hen might lay such eggs. A blue chicken? Once I got back to my apartment, I looked it up on the Internet. Conveniently, the “blue egg chicken” appeared in the scroll-down list when I started to type.
Those Eggs are Real, and They Came from Real Chickens
Actually, the eggs are sort of a blue-green color, with some being more mottled than others. Some of the eggs really are bluer and these are sold at ridiculous prices, touted as being free of cholesterol. (This has not been proven by scientists and is another marketing ploy, so buyers beware!) The eggs come from the Araucana; a chicken originally from Chile and now becoming popular in the United States. The Araucana is sometimes also called the South American Rumpless (because it doesn’t have a terminal vertebra or a tail, according to North American standards) or the Easter Egger (for the multi-colored eggs it lays). Alas, this chicken is not blue. It does have cool-looking tufts of feathers beneath its ears, known as “ear tufts” in the business, a very reduced comb on top of its head, a an absence of those funny wobbly red things called “wattles”. The original Araucanas were bred in Chile by Araucanian Indians and were produced by mating the Collonca, a clean-faced bird without a rump and a natural layer of blue eggs, with the Quetro, which has ear tufts and lays pinkish-brown eggs.
Breeding Can Cause Woes, However
Breeders learned that the gene for ear tufts results in mortality among the hatchlings if there are two copies of the gene present. There is a mortality rate of 20% among the chicks if there is just one copy of the gene present. Because of this lethality, the Ameraucana was created, which has many of the same physical characteristics as the Araucana, but is not subject to breeding problems.
A Healthy Chicken is a Happy Chicken
Either way, people that own these chickens rave about their egg-producing abilities and their friendliness. In doing the research for this article, and thus satisfying my curiosity, I stumbled upon the Web site for the Mcmurray Hatchery, which has a lot of interesting comments after the pricing information on Araucanas.
Sources and More Information: