Meet Willow, she was hatched back in April. She certainly has grown! She’s one of two fertile eggs put under a first time broody Silkie. A trial run so to speak, hoping the hen would follow through with her duties as a Mom to be. Obviously it was a success and I’ll use her again when it’s not so hot.
July in Phoenix the temperatures are 110-116, definitely not suitable for hatching eggs! I tried it once, a total fail.
Willow is a barnyard mix, all I know for sure is the hen was an Ameraucana, the green egg made that I.D. pretty simple. Look at those yellow legs, she almost glows in the dark. ha ha!
Can you believe both chicks turned out to be girls? That hardly ever happens. Lucky me!
Most chicken keepers are more concerned about cold tolerant breeds. But if you live in the Sonoran desert, the scorching heat is by far a bigger problem. Before you order your Spring chicks keep in mind these three breeds for heat hardiness. They’ve proved to me over and over to be the real survivors of the flock.
• Dominique (Best of heavy breeds)
Heavy birds are harder to keep in hot weather, especially if they are confined. They may survive, but heat stress does effect egg production. However, it’s not always just heavy breeds I find intolerant. These are the breeds I’ve had the least success with in extreme temperatures of 110 – 117.
• Rhode Island
I’ve eliminated the Rhode Islands from my flock not because they don’t survive the heat… they absolutely do. However, they become extremely agitated in brutal heat and all the other members of the flock pay the price. This breed may lay all summer without interruption, but they can sure disrupt the harmony of a flock when they are uncomfortable in high temperatures.
In my opinion, the real trooper in the worst weather conditions is the Ameraucana, and they’re good layers too! But don’t pick this breed if your looking for a pal, this is the loser breed as far as I’m concerned! The perfect word describing this breed is ALOOF.
The Ameraucana, or often called the Easter Egger lays blue/green eggs, and you can expect approximately four medium-large eggs per week.
Learn more about the Ameraucana.
The Blue Egg Layer
It is not clear where the Ameraucana was developed, but it is thought to be the United States. Ameraucana large fowl are in the APA “All Other Standard Breeds” (AOSB) class of chickens. Eight colors are officially recognized for poultry shows by the American Poultry Association: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten and White. There are several project colors, including Lavender.
The Ameraucana is defined as an Easter Egg chicken, or Easter Egger, as any chicken that possesses the blue egg gene, but doesn’t fully meet any breed description as defined in the APA standards. Further, even if a bird (that possesses the blue egg gene) meets an APA standard breed description, but doesn’t meet a variety description or breed true at least 50% of the time it is considered an Easter Egg chicken.
The American Poultry Association’s (APA) American Standard of Perfection contains breed and variety descriptions of all recognized standard breed poultry in North America. This means if your bird does not meet a color requirement, it is in Easter Egger. However, it is highly unlikely to see an Easter Egger which meets all APA standards yet doesn’t have the correct color. They are almost always mutt birds.
While many hatcheries claim to sell Ameraucanas or Araucanas, nearly none of them do. Most sell mutt Easter Eggers. Ameraucanas come in both a large and bantam variety.
Standard Weight for Bantams
Cock: 30 oz.
Cockerel: 26 oz.
Hen: 26 oz.
Pullet: 24 oz.
• Standard Weight for Large Fowl
Cock: 6 1/2 lbs.
Cockerel: 5 1/2 lbs.
Hen: 5 1/2 lbs.
Pullet: 4 1/2 lbs.
Ameraucana, blue-green egg layer
Experts believe that all chicken eggs were once brown. It is thought that white eggs were created by cross-breeding chickens until the eggs became lighter and lighter in color. However, eggs do indeed come in a variety of colors depending on the breed of chicken. It’s easy to tell what color eggs a specific hen will lay by the color of her earlobes. White earlobes, white egg layer, reddish earlobes, brown eggs, simple as that! The Araucana/Ameraucana, also called the Easter Egger, lays a blue-green egg. The earlobes of the Araucana/Ameraucana are a grayish blue, same as their legs and feet. No matter what color the egg, the flavor is identical.
These beautiful eggs are all from my hens, as you can see the Ameraucanas produce the largest eggs. They are also without a doubt my most consistent layers. However, they are my least friendly birds, aloof is how they are best described.
Rhode Island Red, brown egg layer
White shelf eggs at the grocery store come from Leghorns, they are the egg machines producing a whopping 280 eggs per year.
Today, the Single Comb White Leghorn is the most popular breed and is the best known of all the white egg breeds. Leghorn chickens have excellent disease resistance, lay at the highest rate and have the best feed to laying ratio of all chicken breeds. Leghorn pullets generally weigh about 4 lbs. at maturity, start laying at 4½ to 5 months, and will continue 10 to 12 weeks longer than most good layers. However, I’ve found them intolerant to the extreme heat here in Phoenix and have eliminated them from my flock.