What exactly are Easter Egg Chickens (AKA Easter Eggers)?
There is a lot of confusion as to what an Easter Egger is and what it isn't.
Rather than being a specific breed, they're generally a mixture of different breeds.
Easter Egg Chickens carry the blue egg laying gene of the Araucanas.
They are known for laying light blue, blue green, green or pinkish eggs.
Araucanas are sometimes defined as any of the numerous breeds of domesticated chickens that were originally derived from the wild fowl of South America having the blue egg laying gene.
That is one definition and it’s also the same basic definition for Easter Eggers (hmmm...).
By that definition people often interchanged the terms Araucana and Easter Egger and many people still think that Araucanas and Ameraucanas are Easter chickens because they have the blue egg laying gene.
Easter Eggers by definition are mixed breeds and as mixed breeds are disqualified from standards of the American Bantam Association and American Poultry Association (APA).
Araucanas were accepted as a breed by the APA back in 1976 and Ameraucanas were accepted by the APA as a breed in 1984.
There are different theories about the origin of these chickens. One theory holds that the South American Araucanas were crossed with other breeds to create the Ameraucanas. Another theory is that the Quecha, a breed from Chile, was responsible for the crossbreeding.
The reality is that both Araucanas and Ameraucanas were probably created from Easter Eggers that had the blue egg gene. Over time they were bred to have certain traits and physical characteristics until they were finally accepted as breeds in their own right.
In any case, current Easter Eggers are often a hybrid of some other breed and Ameraucanas or Araucanas.
Hybrid Easter chicks are available in both Bantam and large size. A beardless variety of Easter Egger has been developed, although usually the hens and cockerels sport a beard and muff. Many, although not all Easter Eggers have small or barely-there pea combs. This makes them well suited to colder climates.
If you are seeking purebreds, stay away from the hybrid chickens of this group and stay with Ameraucanas or Araucanas.
You might see Easter Egg chicks for sale under the name Ameraucana/Americana. They probably aren’t true Ameraucanas and there is no such breed as Americana.
If you just want a fun and unusual chicken raising experience, however, any of the hybrid Easter Eggers should be fine.
Following are some good things to know:
Some hens do tend to get broody and disgruntled with humans and other chickens, but those are few and far between and no more of an issue than with any other hen.
But why is it so popular to have a backyard flock to lay Easter Eggs? Well, part of it may be that each chicken only lays one color of egg. If the first egg is green, that is her color and will not change.
By the same token, your Easter Egger could lay ordinary white eggs.
Although typically blue or green, the solid colors and hues of these large eggs include blue, brown, green, white and pink. The creamy brown, pink and white eggs are rare.
Another reason could be their coloring as adults. As hybrids, the true coloring of Easter Egg chickens won’t be known until they feather out, so it's important not to expect a chick to remain the same downy color as when first purchased.
But you’ll probably be happily surprised to discover the number of feather colors and patterns that can result, such as silver, blue and black.
Golden, red and white are common, as well.
Greenish colored legs are also common, although your chickens can have yellow, slate and willow leg colors.
People are often delighted by a colorful flock of large or small hens known as Easter Eggers.
The friendly, inquisitive Easter Egg Chickens are easy to handle and non-aggressive.
Known for maturing early, the full-sized variety weighs between 5 and 7 pounds with a medium sized head, small ear lobes, expressive eyes and a curved beak add a look of intrigue.
Bantam roosters weigh just less than 2 pounds, while 26 ounces is a good size for the Banty hen.
You can have dozens of chickens without having a duplicate, making it easy to name and recognize each one. Friends will delight in the opportunity to get to know more about this special type of chicken with the beautiful eggs.
To Learn more about Easter Eggers and theories about their origin, you can check out the Easter Eggers Club of America.
Easter Egg Chickens are usually great members of any backyard flock.