On the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, with coastlines bordering both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, lays the sun-drenched region of Andalusia, Spain. It is here where the graceful Andalusian breed of chicken hails. The Andalusian was once known as the “Blue Minorca”, since it is approximately the same size as a Minorca and originates from the same country.
The only color pattern of the Andalusian officially recognized and admitted to the American Poultry Standard of Perfection, is blue, so it’s no surprise that these chickens are commonly referred to as “Blue Andalusians”. However, as with other “blue” breeds, genetics play a key role. An Andalusian chick can end up with white, black or blue feathers. The Blue, (a beautiful slate color laced with a darker blue), is actually a hybrid between a white Andalusian rooster and a black Andalusian hen. You might think that a Blue Andalusian bred with a Blue Andalusian would yield a Blue Andalusian… and you would be partly correct. Remember your old high school genetics class? If both parents are Blue, then the offspring will be 25% Black, 50% Blue, and 25% White (or “Splash”… a white bird with “splashes” or “spots” of black, blue or gray).
Okay – so that’s the science end of it. Are they good egg layers? Yes. Andalusians lay large, chalky-white eggs and are non-broody. They are active birds, medium in size, compact, highly symmetrical, and stately in carriage. The breed has a large, single comb. Hens weighs about 5 ½ pounds, while roosters weigh in at about 7 pounds. This breed also comes in the bantam variety.
Andalusians are excellent foragers and would rather be ranging than confined. They are talkative and somewhat distant, but they are cold hardy, making them a good choice for northern locations. Just make sure to watch for frostbite exposure due to their large combs. As you can imagine, since the breed originated in the Mediterranean, it is also heat tolerant.
The Andalusian was bred in England for years, and with a little bit of effort, can be found still among breeders in the United States. But its appearance is becoming rarer. In fact, its name is listed under the “Threatened” heading on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.
If you’re interested in preserving a heritage breed of lovely color, great stature, and whose ancestors most likely watched sailing ships navigate the Strait of Gibraltar, then the Blue Andalusian may just be the breed for you.
Photography Source: Featured Image and photo of eggs – Mypetchicken.com; Rooster – http://www.chickenforum.com/chickens/andalusian.html; Group photo – http://www.wynochookspot.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=124180708