I invested more than a decade into the breed before dropping it and focusing my attention on my Ameraucanas. You have a tough road ahead and I'll share why I feel this.

When I started, my passion was for the araucanas and the Ameraucanas were just a spinoff distraction. In fact, when Bushman and I had our first run in, my Ameraucanas were very low priority. My primary focus was on fixing the Araucana.

I joined the ACA back then, but was discouraged by the very poor breeding advice being defended by the club. The common acceptance of the very poor breeding practices more than explained the terrible genetic state of the breed. Terrible fertility, terrible hatch rates, terrible vigour, and a body type better suited to ornamental use than dual purpose.

I quite supporting the ACA because I felt the club's vision for advancing the breed was not sustainable. I felt politics carried more weight for the club than actually fixing the breed.

I rebuilt the araucana from the skeleton out. I selected for a body type that would support vigour, fertility, and dual purpose utilization. Hint: longer back and a breast bone that runs parallel with the back rather than one that pinches into the tail. Unfortunately, after a decade, I still found negative tendencies that looked like they were going to take another decade to sort out. I had no problem producing excellent body type, but failed to find consistency in producing the good body. My breeding approach is such that I expect my culls to be useful birds. I breed for high quality culls.

Consistently, my best birds were tufted tailed, or rumpless clean faced. However, when I combined rumpless and tufted onto the same birds, my average weight would drop. More importantly, their vigour and body conformation also dropped. Don't get me wrong, I produced some high quality show birds and won some top prizes, but unfortunately, those high end show birds tended to fail in the breeding pen to pass on the quality with any kind of consistency.

For my line, something about combining those two traits simply didn't work. I realized that the only way I could finish my work with the araucana would be to divide it into two breeding lines, one tufted tailed and the other cleanface rumpless. These two lines would be functioning flocks and where I would fine tune colour selection, tuft quality, etc, etc. These would be my breeding flocks. I could cross the two flocks, but only to produce exhibition birds.

Unfortunately for the araucana, my Ameraucanas replaced them as my main priority. I started both my araucanas and ameraucanas with the same initial test cross between hatchery Ameraucana and show Araucana. Both my lines started with the same P1 parents and it is only through selection that I divided it back into the two breeds. Despite both starting from the same genepool, and my main attention focussed on the Araucana, the Ameraucana line was much easier to round into shape. My initial goals for the araucana came to fruition in the ameraucana line instead. A consistently great table bird that lays blue/green eggs and performs well in the show room. It consistently produces good quality culls. Case in point, a bird from my slaughter pen won Res AOSB last weekend at a sanctioned show. Bird will still find it's way to the freezer, but you get the point.



I guess this is a long winded way of saying that I don't see the value in forming a new club focused on exhibiting Araucanas. Exhibition is not where the breed needs work. It needs to be rebuilt from the skeleton out. If the breed is to survive for the long haul, it needs to offer the backyarder better value. Better fertility, better conformation, better vigour. The breed needs to become more rewarding for the average backyarder and the remote chance of being able to produce a prize winning bird simply is not enough. Backyarders like the idea of araucanas but few stick with the breed because it simply is not rewarding enough for most to keep.

Just my 2 cents based on my own personal experiences.
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APA Grand Master of Bronze Turkey, Black Ameraucana, Black Muscovy, & Khaki Campbell

www.OmegaBlueFarms.ca