The ancestors of the modern Araucana chicken were purportedly first bred by the Arauca Indians of Chile, hence the name "Araucana". The Araucana as we know it today is a hybrid of two South American breeds, the Collonca, a naturally blue-egg laying, rumpless, clean-faced chicken and the Quetros, a pinkish-brown egg layer that is tailed and has ear-tufts. Each bird looks different, they come in a large assortment of colors and some are bearded or non-bearded.
Eggs: These birds lay the famous green, blue and pink eggs.
Guineas are native to Africa. The Greeks were keeping domesticated varieties by 400 B.C. and the ancient Romans considered both the meat and eggs delicacies. They were brought to the U.S. around the late 1500’s. A small bird related to the chicken and partridge, guinea fowl include four or five species, the most common being Numida meleagris. Guinea fowl are hardy birds that forage for food and so are often farmed in free-range or semi-wild facilities where they also perform a valuable pest control function. They have an acute awareness of predators and so are valued for their role as a 'watchdog', alerting farmers to any henhouse intrusions. It is reported that they have the ability to distinguish between farmers' family members and strangers. The hens begin to lay in April or May.
Types on Elser's Country Farm: Pied, Light Lavender and Pearl Gray Eggs: small, dark in color and have a fine flavor
Japanese quail have been widely distributed in Europe and Asia. In Japan, these birds were kept as pets beginning in the eleventh century. By 1910, Japanese quail became popular in Japan for egg and meat production. They were introduced in the United States by bird fanciers around 1870. The eggs are similar in taste to chicken eggs and can be used for banquets and other such occasions. Plain hard-cooked eggs or colored eggs can be used for decorating salads. They are good appetizers and snacks. Roasted quail eggs in a spicy sauce are great if one desires a little zest.
Types on Elser's Country Farm: Manchurian Golden, Brown, Chocolate, and Tuxedo Eggs: small, speckled, creamy eggs
The Rhode Island Red chicken was originally developed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the 1880's and 1890's. The Rhode Island Red is the most successful dual-purpose bird of all and remains an excellent farm chicken. They are very good layers of brown eggs and are known for their hardiness and ability to produce eggs even in marginal conditions. Its distinctive color and qualities helped it to spread rapidly across the country making this bird one of the most popular breeds ever. Their color can vary from a fawn-red to a deep chocolate red.
The Wyandotte is an American breed. Silver Laced Wyandottes was developed in New York State in the early 1870s. The Wyandotte has been described as the bird of curves. This is possibly due to the feather structure being strong enough to hold the shape, whilst at the same time having enough under feather to highlight the curves. Wyandottes are good dual purpose birds, especially the White and Silver Laced varieties which have been bred for utility, as well as for show.
Types on Elser's Country Farm: Golden Laced and Silver Laced Eggs: large sized brown eggs