It may come as a surprise to you just how many chicken breeds are used for both egg and meat production these days.
Despite the shift to using only a few specific breeds as broilers, many chicken keepers choose to raise their birds as dual-purpose.
Ameraucana hens are considered dual-purpose but do not have particularly impressive meat production, but they are good to eat. Ameraucanas only grow to be about five pounds at full maturity, which is relatively small for a meat bird, especially given their slow growth rate. Ameraucanas are edible but are not the best meat birds.
If you are considering raising Ameraucanas, whether for eggs, meat, or both, there is a lot more you need to know.
Keep reading to learn why these beautiful egg layers are not productive meat birds and how best to raise them, so you get the most out of them!
Are Ameraucana Chickens Good For Meat?
Ameraucanas are a dual-purpose breed, as most layers are these days.
However, there are many reasons this breed is not strictly considered a good meat bird.
The most important requirement of an excellent broiler is its ability to reach butchering weight under specific time constraints.
Whereas the average broiler is easily ready to butcher within 8-10 weeks, an Ameraucana does not reach full size until much later.
Furthermore, while many broilers are butchered when they weigh 4-5 pounds, Ameraucana meat is much tougher by the time they reach this age.
Broilers are butchered young because tender meat is the main objective.
Many chicken keepers say the meat quickly gets tougher after 14-16 weeks of age.
Ameraucana chicks are nowhere near butchering size at 14-16 weeks. It takes months longer before they are big enough to slaughter.
By the time they reach their full weight of about five pounds, Ameraucanas are sure to have much tougher meat than the industry standard.
This does not mean their meat is no good, of course! But it does mean Ameraucanas are a poor choice to raise solely for meat.
They make decent dual-purpose birds, as they are prolific egg layers with the blue egg gene, producing 3-4 eggs per week.
This excellent egg production continues for years, one of many reasons Ameraucanas are such a popular breed.
While you would not be getting as much value from these birds if you used them as simple meat birds, you would get loads more from them if you keep them as layers and cull them later.
Is the Ameraucana Good for Egg Production?
Ameraucana hens are prolific layers with no special treatment beyond layer feed and water.
These birds are renowned for their blue eggs and a wide variety of multicolored feathers.
Female chicks begin laying eggs at around 20-24 weeks and continue until they reach about 5 years of age.
During this time frame, they are reliable layers with excellent egg production totaling up to 200-300 eggs per year.
They are versatile birds with an unpredictable broodiness trait.
The range of personalities present among Ameraucana hens makes it very hard to say whether this breed generally has a strong broodiness trait or not.
Further Reading: Ameraucana chickens and broodiness
They certainly have the potential to be attentive mothers, though.
If you want to breed and hatch your own baby chicks, this is a good breed for you.
The roosters are generally friendly, and the hens lay consistently.
Determine ahead of time, though, whether your Ameraucana hen is broody enough to sit on a clutch of eggs or if you will need to use an incubator.
Ameraucana chickens are great for increasing variety, production, and hatching chicks!
Overall, they are wonderful layers.
Are Ameraucanas Easy to Raise?
Because they are not prone to health issues, Ameraucana hens are easy to care for, even for new backyard keepers.
They are winter-hardy and take the cold months well.
Further Reading: The Cold Tolerance of Ameraucana Chickens
They are single-comb birds and have small pea combs, which makes them resistant to frostbite.
Their noise level is moderate.
They do not make excessive loud noises but are not notoriously quiet either.
One of the key characteristics of the Ameraucana breed is the range of personalities found from hen to hen.
Each individual bird’s noise level may be different.
Some backyard keepers say their Ameraucanas make the least loud noises of their flock. Others say their Ameraucanas are the noisiest of the bunch.
Having a broad range of characters in your chicken coop is a blast.
But if noisy birds cause negative feelings from your neighbors, you may want to think twice about this breed.
Their egg-laying abilities certainly make the hens worth any noise for you.
But your neighbors don’t reap the same benefits.
However, the broad range of plumage varieties makes this breed most appealing to new chicken keepers.
From black to blue to white to silver, the Ameraucana chicken is beautiful and unique in appearance.
The egg color and fluffy feather colors alike are brilliant and eye-catching with these dual-purpose chickens.
Some Ameraucanas also have the ear tuft gene, which many backyard chicken keepers find endearing.
These hardy chickens are foragers and curious birds at heart, so they are good at occupying themselves and staying out of trouble.
This makes them a wonderful candidate for new backyard chicken producers.
Other Dual-Purpose Breeds
If the Ameraucana is not right for you, there are plenty of other dual-purpose birds to consider raising.
Some of the dual-purpose chickens that have better meat production include:
- Buff Orpingtons
- Plymouth Rocks
These are all larger types of chickens, making them better candidates for being butchered later in life.
While these breeds grow more slowly than the average broiler-fryer, they reach a higher end weight than the Ameraucana, making them a superior meat bird.
These birds have some similar laying abilities compared with the Ameraucana.
However, they do not come in the same pattern varieties, and not all of them do as well as the Ameraucana in the cold months.
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