Poultry Breeds

The Andalusian Chicken

The (Blue) Andalusian chicken, like the Andalusian horse, originated from the Spanish province of Andalucia. It is one of the oldest of the Mediterranean chicken breeds. It was once called the Blue Minorca and was created by Spanish breeders who crossed black chickens with white sports. The white sports were a naturally occurring mutation. Interestingly Gregor Mendel used these birds for some of his experiments into genetics.

Andalusian HenCredit: By Костюшко (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The result of crossing the white and black was an attractive slate blue bird. Each feather is laced with a darker blue edging. The Andalusian was first accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1874.

The colour of the chicks varies in the ratio of one mottled (or splash), one black and two blues. While only the blues are accepted for exhibition purposes (by the American Poultry Association), the others are likely to have all blue chicks so are often kept for breeding purposes.

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The Andalusian is a close-feathered, graceful chicken, talkative and active. They much prefer free range conditions and are most unhappy in restricted spaces although they will tolerate some confinement. As might be expected, they are energetic and active foragers. The hens do not go broody easily. Breeding Blue Andalusians is a challenge and requires much patience and dedication.

The hens weigh 5 to 7 pounds and the cocks somewhat more. There is a bantam version which weighs from 24 to 28 ounces. The body is long as is the tail which generally sits at a 45 degree angle.

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The single comb is susceptible to frostbite in cold weather. The comb has five distinct points. The best show cocks will have five points all standing upright. Hens are expected to have the first point standing erect and the other four falling to the side. Woe betide any hen who gets it wrong! The wattles are thin and smooth. The white earlobes are almond-shaped. The Andalusian has a horn-coloured beak and dark slate shanks and toes.

The hens lay 3 to 4 white eggs a week. This breed can be noisy and aloof, and is not particularly docile. They are also very fast. It can be quite difficult to breed the acceptable slate blue colouring for the show ring so the bird is not particularly popular. It is now a very rare breed indeed with numbers dropping every year. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the status of the Andalusian as ‘critical’.