Open a box of Easter Egger chicks and you will redefine your understanding of what is ‘fun in a box.’ They are cute, they are fuzzy and no two birds look exactly the same. Fast forward six months and things get even more fun as your hens will start to lay eggs, the shells of which are as varying in color as their plumage.
Wikipedia has the Easter Egger as ‘any chicken that possesses the blue egg gene, but doesn’t fully meet any breed standard defined in the American Poultry Association standards’.
It’s probably easier to think of things like this: The Easter Egger is a ‘class/group’ of chicken that does not have a recognized breed standard, while still laying colored eggs.
For example, in the case of a Barred Rock chick, you would have had a rooster and a hen that were both Barred Rock. In the case of a Easter Egger, your hen might be an Ameraucana and your rooster a Barred Rock…or an Orpington…or a New Hampshire Red – it’s really up to the breeder. So long as the new chicks grows to lay colored eggs, then they are considered an Easter Egger.
The name Easter Egger comes from the similarity of what you’d find in your nesting box and the colorful plastic eggs your child might find on Easter Morning.
It’s really sort of hard to expect any kind of consistency in physical attributes when the parenting breeds are determined by the roll of the dice. Point of fact, most of the literature I read said that Easter Eggers tend to be smaller than average. I’ve got to say, my birds didn’t get that memo!
Our two biggest birds in our current flock of 13 are both Easter Eggers…and they are about as different in appearance as you can get. The only thing that they have in common is that they’re both big. Even their personalities are polar opposite.
So if you’re looking for consistency in appearance, you will not find it in the Easter Egger! It’s like the breeder got up one morning and said, ‘I don’t feel like playing by the rules today. Today, I want to have FUN!’
And fun is exactly what you’ll get if you decide to add an Easter Egger to your flock.
Spinoff Or Variants Of The Easter Egger Chicken
Unlike other breeds of chicken with clearly defined characteristics, the Easter Egger is much more chaotic in its physical attributes. Consequently, it’s pretty hard to create a variant version when there aren’t any fixed standards to deviate from.
There is, however, a bantam version of the Easter Egger – which is a much smaller chicken (think miniature pony). Bantams are fully capable of laying the same multicolored eggs, however, they will be much smaller.
Due to their ample size and egg production, Easter Egger Chickens are considered dual purpose – meaning you can keep them for eggs or butcher them for the freezer.
It is important to note, however, that most of the literature that I’ve read claims the Easter Egger to be smaller than the average chicken – meaning there could be less meat to fill the freezer. So if you’re considering a breed of chicken specifically for meat consumption, you’d might be better off looking at other heavier breeds.
But if you’re looking for a novelty egg, with a very high range in shell color, then the Easter Egger is just the bird for you.
What Color Eggs Does An Easter Egger Lay?
And here is where the Easter Egger really shines.
The egg shells laid by an Easter Egger can be anywhere from an olive green to blue, and occasionally, they’ll even be red or brown. Shell color will vary from hen to hen, but generally stays consistent for each hen.
In other words, if your girl lays a red egg today, she’s probably not going to lay a blue one tomorrow.
The size of the egg is labeled as medium, but honestly, that’s debatable. They can be large, or in the case of bantams, they can be small as well. It’s all going to depend on that fateful role of the dice.
Remember, Easter Eggers are a chaotic ‘breed/classn’ of chicken. And as such, their egg output will vary from hen to hen.
I have never noted an Easter Egger being excessively aggressive or grumpy. But at the same time, they’re not overly friendly either.
For example, we had a weasel sneak into an outdoor brooder this summer when the chicks were about 5 weeks old. Because of the way the brooder is constructed, the weasel could not actually get to the chicks – except for the toes. And so, that’s what it went after.
I can tell you, nothing is more disheartening than seeing a bunch of crippled chicks!
But, chickens are remarkably resilient. So I knew that they could make a recovery, provided I gave them adequate care.
And this is where ‘Gimpy’ comes in.
Gimpy is one of my Easter Egger’s that took substantial damage. Where the rest of the flock had clean cuts where their toes used to be, Gimpy had a mangled toe. Consequently, she needed a lot of care.
During this time, Gimpy got to be fairly comfortable with me. She didn’t necessarily like being picked up, but she didn’t freak out either.
Once her recovery got to the level where I felt she’d be alright, I reintroduced her to the flock, along with Two-Toes, a Buff Orpington that also sustained some substantial damage.
Within a very short time, both of my ‘lame’ chicks were moving around and having fun being chickens. Which of course, made me very happy.
However, in the following months, Gimpy seemed to completely forget who I was, while Two-Toes the Orpington still recognizes her name and comes every time I call it. Both of these birds got the same amount of attention. But, while the bond between Two-Toes and I is still strong, Gimpy has regressed back to what she was… a chicken that is reluctant to be handled.
Now it’s worth noting that this is just one particular case. And for the record, every chicken has its own personality. In another situation, the results could have been different. But… Buff Orpingtons are known for being sweet mannered birds. Consequently, the behavior that Two-Toes exhibits is not all that surprising.
So, in an unfair generalization, Easter Eggers are not overly troublesome, but they’re not overly friendly either.
Free-range Vs. Caged
Despite the wide range of parentage, Easter Eggers are not really flighty birds. One of our current seven Easter Eggers is notably more nervous than the rest, but not to the point where a caged environment would be bad for her. Point of fact, she would probably appreciate the security of a defined space.
As a whole, the Easter Egger Chicken could probably do well, in a small chicken run where space is limited. However, for the most part, our girls don’t seem to mind being free range – though they do run for the closest bush, long before our other breeds of chicken.
### Important Note ###
Even if you have a limited space, allowing your flock out of its run for as little as an hour in the evening, is certain to reflect on your flock’s behavior. Chickens are very curious creatures and the additional stimulation, right before bed, is sure to be the highlight of their day.
Easter Eggers are a celebrated group of chickens. They don’t really conform to anything, except to not conform – and that has its own reward for some. Their wide range in plumage is fun, beaten only by the novelty eggs that they will lay.
To my knowledge, there are no specific illnesses that plague the Easter Egger Chicken. This is to be expected though as parentage is more random than refined.
Easter Eggers And Cold/Hot Weather
Most places define the Easter Egger as being cold hardy, meaning they can handle the freezing temperatures of northern climates. And living in a place where I can see snow more often than lawn, I would agree with this.
The feathers around their necks can be a little ‘foofy’ and this helps insulate (like a scarf). Their combs and wattles will vary in size and length but do tend to be on the small side, which is another thing that helps the birds retain heat.
But, while the birds tend to do well against the cold, the darker colored Easter Eggers will overheat before the rest of the flock. Careful attention must be given to your birds if they are the dark brown version of Easter Egger as they will have difficulty staying cool.
We currently have 7 Easter Eggers in our flock. And I can tell you, when you look at them, it’s like they’re 3 different breeds of chicken. Three of them are mostly white, three of them are tan and gray (with ‘foofy’ butts) and one is dark brown. There is no visual indication that they are the same ‘breed’ of chicken.
It’s also worth noting, that an Easter Egger’s area to shine is in the wide range of colorful egg shells that they produce. The variation from the standard brown or white is just a lot of fun.
Interaction, however, between our flock and us is nothing like it is between us and other breeds. The Barred Rock, for example is smart and friendly (and sometimes mischievous). The Buff Orpington is sweet and shy. The Australorp is friendly to us, but sometimes ‘catty’ with other members of the flock. The Easter Eggers have yet to display any notable behavior when it comes to interaction with us.
For some, who are accustomed to birds with specific behavior, this lack of notable distinguishment, might be a bit of a turn off – though the colorful eggs and the never-the-same plumage certainly have their own benefit.
I would give this breed of chicken 3 out of 5 stars.
In our flock, we have one hen that we call ‘Eagle Eye’, due to the really cool markings she had as a chick. Eagle Eye likes to be the first one out of the coop in the morning. Why?
Because she likes to stand at the bottom of the ramp and challenge everyone as they try to blast past her.
I don’t know why she does this, but she does it every morning. I rarely see her challenging anyone after her morning harassment, but she never skips this morning routine.
Eagle Eye is currently (as they’re still growing) the second largest chicken in our flock – her size being surpassed by another Easter Egger we call ‘Fatty Patty’. (Even as a chick, Fatty Patty was easy to pick out as she has always been quite the curvy girl.)
Well, a few mornings past, I was letting the girls out of the coop when Eagle Eye engaged in her morning routine of harassment. A couple of Barred Rocks indulged her misbehavior by snapping back while the others took advantage of the moment and flew past. This left our shy Fatty Patty as the last one out of the coop.
Generally, I’ve noted that Eagle Eye is pretty reluctant about challenging Fatty Patty (as is everyone else, despite her being so reserved). But the scuffle with the Barred Rocks must have left Eagle Eye a little jumbled as she took a quick snap at Fatty Patty as she lumbered past.
It was clear to me that Eagle Eye realized her mistake by quickly stepping back and lowering herself.
Unfortunately for her, Fatty Patty stopped and turned, as if to say, “OH NO YOU DID NOT! I KNOW you didn’t just snap at me, girl!”
I’m here to tell you that what came next was a good old-fashioned whoopin.
Eagle Eye didn’t make the same mistake the next morning.