If you are hoping for a basket full of colour and hens that don’t disappoint in temperament and aesthetic, the Easter Egger Chicken is the right bird for you flock.
These friendly and curious chickens are known to lay a spectrum of beautiful eggs, from olive to pale blue, from nude to blush, Easter Egger Chickens bring colour and personality to your backyard flock and have become one of the most popular breeds for backyard farmers.
What is an Easter Egger Chicken?
Simply put, Easter Egger Chickens are the well loved and highly coveted mutt in the chicken world. Similar to a backyard mix, these chickens are a combination of a number of chickens, any chicken really, so long as somewhere in the lineage includes an Ameraucana or Araucana and any brown egg layer.
It should be noted, in Canada and parts of the US there is a non standard breed of coloured egg layers known as the Azure Blue Chicken. These ladies are mostly white with patches of grey, they are slim and skittish but they lay the Tiffany’s of eggs.
So, if you’re looking to breed an Easter Egger all you need to do is combine an ordinary, run of the mill chicken with one that lays coloured eggs and then bam you have yourself an Easter Egger.
It should be noted, however, that breeding a coloured egg layer with an ordinary hen doesn’t necessarily yield consistent egg colouring.
Easter Egger Chickens: Eggs
While Easter Egger Chickens aren’t running about the backyard laying chocolate eggs, they do produce a stunning array of egg colours that is sure to brighten your carton and fetch you a premium from your road side stand.
Here’s the thing about the Easter Egger Chicken, and we will get to why they lay coloured eggs in a moment, although they are relatively “easy” to produce, the colour of egg they lay is a bit of a craps shoot.
First of all, you aren’t guaranteed a coloured egg.
Bummer, I know.
Here’s why. Biology.
Easter Egger Chickens: Predicting Egg Colour
As I mentioned before, an Easter Egger Chicken is simply the combination of a standard brown egg layer and an Ameraucana, Araucana, or even an existing Easter Egger.
This combination can yield a variety of egg colours, one of them being (possibly disappointingly so) brown.
Do you recall high school biology when the teacher taught on the genetics for passing down and predicting eye colour. If you don’t, that is OK, I will summarize really quickly.
Essentially, as we all know, you inherit some genes from the mother, and some from the father. These genes carry all the information to make the chicken, including whether or not their livers process or contain something called oo-cyanin.
What is oo-cyanin?
Oo-cyanin is basically bile, produced in the liver of the chicken, that causes both the inside and the outside of the shell to be blue.
The amount of oo-cyanin that is absorbed will determine the colour of the shell.
Interestingly enough, however, because Easter Eggers are a combination of a brown layer and a coloured egg layer (whether blue or olive), the exact colour of the egg to be laid is unknown and almost impossible to predict until the hen reaches maturity.
Easter Egger Chickens: More About Laying
Like most hen, Easter Egger Chickens reach laying maturity at about 18-20 weeks of age.
Once they hit maturity the excitement begins!
Are they laying pink, blue, olive, or even brown eggs?
Now, I should let you know – and you probably already guessed – Easter Egger chickens will only lay one colour of egg per bird.
Eggs per Year
While it would be all sorts of Willy Wonka cool to have a bird that surprised you daily with different coloured offerings, that simply isn’t natural. Once your hen lays her first egg you’ll know what she brings to the table, pun intended.
Easter Egger Chickens are solid and consistent layers, laying between 4 and 5 medium sized eggs in a week, amounting to 240-280 eggs annually.
Easter Egger Chickens: Personality and Temperament
Easter Eggers make a great addition to the backyard flock, and – if I’m being honest – would be a solid single breed consideration if you aren’t into collecting breeds.
These hens make tremendous companions (like Silkies) and great flock mates.
Easter Eggers are gentle and curious chickens, with a amiable disposition and easy going personality they make a great starter hen for your backyard flock and and even more exciting pet for a child (you know, because they lay colourful eggs and all).
A word of caution
These chickens are remarkably friendly and have been known to seek out the affections and attention of their chicken tenders and other flock members. It’s not uncommon to see chicken besties in the yard when you have Easter Eggers in the mix.
One word of caution, because of their meek personalities and the curiosity, Easter Egger chickens can often become the victims of backyard bullies. It’s recommended, when mixing flocks, that aggressive breeds and Easter Eggers not mix, or that adequate space be provided for these gentle ladies to seek shelter.
Easter Egger Chickens: Accommodations and Diet
Easter Egger chickens are on the smaller side of standard chickens with roosters coming in around 5 lbs and hens clocking in at a whopping 4 lbs.
These are not dual purpose birds.
Which, in my opinion, is A-OK because of the beauty in their bounty.
Because they are on the smaller side, they do not require a lot of roosting space nor an exceptionally large coop.
In terms of their run or their outdoor space… well, that’s another story.
Easter Eggers are curious by nature and enjoy exploring the world around them.
As such, it is important to their mental well-being that they have adequate space to roam, to play, and to forage.
If it’s possible, I recommend free-ranging these lovable birds (at least for periods through the day).
If free-ranging isn’t a possibility for you flock, consider a larger run and absolutely make sure that the run is enclosed otherwise you may have free-range ladies, like it or not (they are curious and clever and can easily manage their way out of a three foot fence).
Summary : Is an Easter Egger Right For You?
I feel like this is a no brainer but I am still going to say it.
In almost every instance, yes, an Easter Egger is the right breed for the backyard flock.
These birds are fun, personable, they are hearty with little health issues (like mutt dogs, mutt chickens tend to be healthier specimens than purebreds), they get along well in a mixed flock, and – hello – they lay stunning eggs!
There is almost no downside to these adorable birds that bring sunshine and literal rainbows to your breakfast table.
So, go, get yourself an Easter Egger or three and let us know what eggs fill your basket!