Whether a regular breeder or backyard enthusiast, you have probably heard of an Ameraucana chicken. It is a breed fast growing in popularity due to its beautiful blue eggs, sweet temperament, and characteristic fluffy muffs and beards. (Even on the ladies!). They come in variety of SOP (standard of perfection) colors, and learning the ins-and-outs of those colors is as frustrating as it is fascinating to those new to the breed. Combining the wrong color genetics (or mixing with another breed) will result in a bird labeled an Easter Egger. Understanding how to breed color is important. After all, you want an Ameraucana. Not an Americana (or any other spelling variation out there). That is the first red flag it is an easter egger.
One our our favorite breeding pens is our bbs ameraucana, with our rooster named "Blue".
What is so bad about an easter egger?
Absolutely nothing, so long as that is what you wanted to buy. Easter eggers can provide beautiful birds that give you a surprise lottery of genetics in color, conformity, and egg color. The surprise is the beauty of the breed. When breeding Ameraucana, however, there shouldn't be a guessing game. You must guarantee blue eggs will be laid, slate shanks will develop, and specific colors will generate in the chicks and eggs. There should be no surprises. Ultimately, that is what the "easter egger" label implies. Mixing two Ameraucanas can results in chicks that won't provide guaranteed results (Blue and Self Blue is one of those combos!) and are therefore "easter eggers".
So Why BBS Ameraucana?
BBS Ameraucana isn't a color variety, rather it is a breeding pen that produces specific color varieties of Ameraucana. Simply put, blue, black, and splash color varieties are kept together, with a common pairing being a blue rooster over splash, blue, and black hens. Why? For us it is two reasons: 1.) A blue rooster over our blue and splash hens gives us the highest ratio of splash. 2.) To maintain or improve the color of splash. When splash to splash is bred, the result is 50% splash, 50% diluted. Meaning the black flecks may start to wash out in half the chicks. If you breed that diluted offspring to splash again, it dilutes further. Continuing to breed those splash will result in a bird that is almost washed out to white. To keep those beautiful black specks prevalent, you want to inject blue genes.
That doesn't mean your first generation of splash to splash is a loss. As a breeder, you should grow those out and monitor the color for dilution. Injecting blue genes when needed to maintain the color.
So what are the results of bbs pairings?
Now that is a fascinating question! One that depends on the color pairings of the parents. Since all the eggs are blue, you won't 100% know what you have in hand. Thus a bbs pen provides a chance that an egg will produce a blue, black, or splash chick. All are SOP color varieties that will provide you with beautiful blue egg laying genes.
That being said, there is a bit of science you can follow to know your chances. Let's take a look at those pairings:
You can't go wrong.
The color variety offered by a bbs pen is hard to beat. Plus the opportunity to improve the coloring in specific varieties by adjusting your rooster or hens. Ensure you start with good quality stock, from a breeder familiar with Ameraucana, and that can advise where their birds came from. After all, the only surprise you are looking for is on hatch day is which one will hatch out of those beautiful blue eggs: blue, black, or splash!