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Bearded beauty

PUBLISHED: 15:38 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:13 12 May 2014

Quirky Birds - part I: The Araucana

The striking crested and bearded Araucana will definitely bring a quirky look to your flock. It will also add a beautiful contrast of colour to your egg basket.

This unusual-looking soft feathered breed lays a blue/green egg, which varies in shade between colours and strains (ranging from a light, cool blue to a dark green), making for an aesthetically-pleasing variety of eggs. Nutritionally, the eggs are no different to dark, white, or tinted eggs, however, people like them for the novelty factor.

The Lavender variety – which is a light pastel shade of blue and which breeds true and produces well - is by far the most popular colour option but there are many other varieties to choose from. Only the Black-Red rivals the Lavender in terms of popularity, but you can get Black, White, Pyle, Cuckoo, Spangled, Golden-Duckwing, Silver-Diuckwing, Crele and Blue varieties.

The Araucana originates from Chile and is a sought-after fowl among back garden chicken keepers for the contrast it offers to dark, white, and tinted egg layers. They are reasonable layers, producing around 160 eggs per year in the best strains.

As well as the usual type of ‘tailed’ Araucana, there exists a Rumpless version, where no tail feathers develop. The Rumpless is required to have ear ‘tufts’ which are feathers that grow from the pad adjacent to the ear lobe and turn upwards.

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