While not actually a breed of chicken but instead a hybrid, the Easter Egger chicken is still one of the most popular varieties for beginners and experienced keepers alike. This bird, named for the way it produces a variety of differently colored eggs, is friendly, hardy, and easy to care for.
In addition, these chickens are good egg layers and can also be used as meat birds, so they are an excellent option for many chicken enthusiasts.
Background and History
The Easter Egger chicken is not truly a chicken breed but is instead a cross between different chicken breeds. This cross is usually between Araucana and Ameraucana birds, but truthfully, Easter Eggers are rather mixed and can be produced when other birds are crossed with either the Ameraucana or Araucana.
This mix produces a chicken that does not meet any particular breed standards but instead displays a variety of colors and patterns.
However, a disruptive gene can cause many of the eggs of the Araucana to fail to hatch. Therefore, the breed has become rarer and rarer, and many people prefer instead to breed the Easter Egger, which is also capable of producing blue eggs.
The Ameraucana chicken, on the other hand, was bred to be the answer to the unhealthy eggs problem of the Araucana. Ameraucanas were created when Araucanas were bred with other chickens in order to eliminate the problematic gene from the Araucana chickens.
Easter Egger chickens have inherited traits and appearance features from both sides of their mixed ancestors, and because of this, many Easter Eggers look quite different from each other.
However, they all share some similar characteristics that make them a popular breed. In fact, the popularity of the breed has never truly experienced a decrease, unlike many other different chicken varieties since the rise of the industrial hen.
Breed Standard and Appearance
- Females weigh four pounds, males weigh five pounds
- Available in a variety of colors
- Easter Egger chickens may be rumpless
The Araucana chicken has two distinctive features that set it apart from other chicken breeds. First, it is known as a rumpless chicken. It has no coccyx and no tail, which gives the bird a distinctly rounded appearance. In addition, the Araucana has tufts, which are soft feathers that protrude from its cheeks.
Easter Egger chickens sometimes display both of these traits, but because they are more or less a mixed bag of genetics, keepers never really know what their Easter Egger chicks will look like. In addition, because they are not truly a breed but instead a hybrid, there is no appearance standard.
These chickens usually have a tail but some may not. They also sometimes display ear tufts, but more commonly have a beard. In addition, these chickens can have any type of comb, although it is usually single, and the shape and size of the comb can also vary.
The wattles are usually quite small and are red in color. Easter Egger chickens can be found in a variety of solid colors and their feathers may also display different patterns. The legs of the chicken also vary in color and are usually not feathered, although sometimes they may be.
Easter Eggers are not large birds, although they have a round, plump body shape. The female Easter Egger chicken usually weighs about four pounds, while the male Easter Egger chicken tends to weigh about five pounds.
Personality and Temperament
Easter Egger chickens are known as some of the friendliest chickens available, which has made them an incredibly popular choice for backyard farms or coops. They enjoy being patted and do not mind being picked up, so they are quite easy to handle.
They may even come over to people to see what they are doing. Some Easter Eggers may even hop into their owner’s lap for gentle cuddles.
Because these birds are so friendly, they are an excellent choice for families with children. In addition, the inquisitive, energetic personalities of these birds make them an interesting addition to a flock.
The Easter Egger chicken is quite docile and not easily flustered. They do not like to get into squabbles or pecking fights with other chickens. Due to their gentle nature, however, other chickens may sometimes pick on or bully Easter Eggers.
For this reason, it is best to keep these chickens either in a flock solely made up of Easter Eggers or in a flock that includes only gentle, calm breeds.
- Easter Egger chickens lay about four eggs each week
- Eggs can be a variety of different colors
- Eggs are extra large in size
Easter Egger chickens are known as very good egg layers and can produce about four eggs a week. The eggs themselves are usually extra large in size. This means that keepers of the Easter Egger chicken can expect to obtain about 200 to 280 extra large eggs each year.
Depending on the genetic makeup of the hen, the Easter Egger chicken can lay a variety of differently colored eggs, including blue, pink, cream, and a range of brown tones. However, each hen will only produce one color of eggs.
For example, if a hen lays pink eggs, she will only ever lay pink eggs. If keepers wish to obtain a variety of colored eggs, they must have a variety of hens with different genetic makeups.
Easter Egger chickens are not known to be broody. They do not have much interest in either sitting on a nest or raising chicks. This is useful for keepers who are more interested in gaining eggs to eat. However, if keepers have a rooster and wish to raise chicks, eggs can be placed in an incubator to hatch.
Health Issues and Care
Easter Egger chickens are known as very hardy birds and do not generally encounter any particular diseases or illnesses. They are also very easy to care for and do not require any more special attention than any other chicken breed.
Sometimes, because they have beards or tufts, Easter Egger chickens may be susceptible to parasites such as mites. Keepers can spray their chickens with a repellent to keep the risk of mites down. Changing out the bedding in the coop and nest areas more frequently can also help to keep the area clean and free of mites.
Araucana chickens have a genetic defect that causes the beaks of some birds to grow crookedly. The beaks may cross instead of lining up, and this condition can become worse as the bird ages. The crossed beak defect can make it very difficult for some chickens to eat and drink without assistance.
However, many chickens who have this condition can actually live long and healthy lives if offered the proper care. Keepers of scissor beaked birds can trim their beaks and can adjust the height of food and water stations in order to make eating and drinking easier. Luckily, because Easter Eggers have a more diverse genetic pool, this condition is generally relatively rare for them.
3 Tips for Raising Easter Egger Chickens
- Offer free ranging opportunities
- Easter Eggers tolerate a variety of environments
- Easter Eggers are sometimes mislabeled as Americanas
Easter Egger chickens are quite easy to care for, and they tolerate confinement in coops well. However, they are also good at foraging and appreciate the opportunity to free range if enough space is available.
Free ranging not only allows chickens to explore their environment but it can also help them supplement their diet. Free ranging can bring new and vital minerals and vitamins into the chickens’ food supply.
Easter Egger chickens also do well in a variety of different environments. They can tolerate the heat as long as they are provided with adequate shade and a constant supply of water. They can also tolerate cold weather and winter months.
Keepers should simply ensure that the chickens have hay or straw that they can roost in to keep warm. Keepers should also check for signs of frostbite. However, because the comb and wattles of the Easter Egger chicken are generally small, frostbite is not common.
Easter Eggers are readily available and are quite inexpensive, usually costing five dollars or less per chick. This makes them an affordable option for many chicken enthusiasts. However, when purchasing chicks, some keepers may come across birds labelled as Americanas.
These are almost always actually Easter Egger chickens and not the Ameraucana breed. Ameraucanas are usually quite a bit more expensive and are much harder to find. Chicken enthusiasts can usually buy birds labelled as Americanas with confidence, knowing that they are most likely Easter Eggers.
Easter Egger chickens have been a popular barnyard, backyard, and coop bird for decades, and once a closer look is taken at this hybrid chicken, it becomes clear why.
These birds are friendly, curious, and gentle, making them an excellent choice for families with children or for beginner chicken keepers. They also produce a large amount of eggs, so they are both useful and fun, which makes them a great addition to nearly any flock.