Chickens are the gateway drug to country life. And with good reason, they’re fairly easy to keep, they lay eggs and they’re hilarious. One of my favorite varieties of chicken is the Easter Egger.
What is an Easter Egger Chicken?
They’re technically not a breed at all, it’s a catch all group for chickens with a particular set of characteristics. The main breed they are derived from is the Araucana.
Araucanas are a unique breed known for laying blue eggs, exaggerated cheek poufs and no tails. That’s right, if your chicken has tail feathers it’s not really an Araucana.
One step away from the Araucana and a little closer to the Easter Egger is the Ameraucana. The Ameraucana is an American breed (bet you saw that coming!). They were bred in an effort to keep the blue eggs and eliminate a lethal gene common in Araucanas that kills chicks in the shell.
Finally we get to the Easter Eggers! They are a mix of different breeds that give you chickens laying blue to blue green eggs thanks to that Araucana blue egg gene.
You can breed EE hens and roosters and it’s anyone’s guess what you’ll get. Some of my favorite chickens are barnyard mixes, you can always spot the EE genes with those little poufy cheeks and beards!
As much as I do love my heritage breeds like the extra fancy Appenzellar Spitzhauben or my absolute favorite Brahamas I’m happy with my plain old EE’s. I love them so much I’m going to give you a few reasons I think you should add them to your flock!
Easter Eggers Lay Beautiful Eggs
Chances are you found out about chickens that lay blue eggs and you wanted them! Who wouldn’t?
I have a carefully selected (impulsively chosen) flock that lays a mix of blue, white, tan and dark brown eggs. I had one girl that laid stunning speckled olive eggs but she disappeared one day and I still miss her.
You will have variation in egg color with your EEs. The colors shift from very pale blue, to pastel blue to a slight green tinge and even a slightly purple color.
Fun fact, egg shells are either white or blue! The brown color comes from an ‘overspray’ of pigment. That’s why if you scrub brown eggs the color fades.
Olive eggs and green eggs come from chickens that lay a blue shell with a brown overspray. The darker the brown, the deeper the olive or green color. My olive egger was a Welsummer-Easter Egger cross. A combo I plan on hatching next year with my EE girls and one of my Wellie roos.
Easter Eggers are Beautiful Birds
Most chickens come in a handful of colors, if you order 12 Light Brahmas, you’ll get 12 amazing large fluffy footed white and grey birds.
If you order 12 EEs you’ll probably get 12 very different birds. This is pretty cool for a few reasons. One, your flock just looks cooler if you have a mix of colors and patterns.
It’s also great if you like to name your chickens, I love my Brahma ladies but I can’t tell one from another. Even my 2 year old can tell the EE’s apart.
The main physical characteristic that sets Easter Eggers apart from other birds is the cheek poufs and beards. They’re even visible on the chicks!
They make EE chicks extra cute and easily distinguishable from the others in the flock. If you have a mixed box of fluff balls check out my post on how to tell different breeds apart as chicks.
They stand out in the flock for the cheek poufs and the beards. As adults they look like they have very thick necks, almost like the necks are larger than the heads.
It gives the hens a bit of rooster appearance but they are regular feathers, not the umbrella of hackle feathers roosters poof up when they fight.
EEs are Inexpensive & Easy to Find
They’re basically mutts after all. I bought my EE girls from Cackle Hatchery this year, if you get pullets they’ll run from ~$3-4 each depending on how many you buy. That puts them on par with the more common heritage breeds like the silver laced wyandottes and brown leghorns.
They also run specials all the time so you might get an even better deal. I ended up with 5 lovely ladies that are starting to lay now at about 30 weeks.
Most hatcheries will have EEs for sale, some even have bantam Easter Eggers which are adorable and lay tiny blue eggs. I have two elder bantam EEs and they are still laying little robin eggs that my kids adore.
Easter Eggers are Hardy Birds
Don’t let those pretty faces and beautiful patterns fool you! Easter Eggers are hardy birds. They can handle cold winters and also do pretty well in the heat.
They have small combs that make frost bite less likely in the cold. I put lights in my chicken coop and barn in the winter to make up for the 6 hours of sunlight and my EEs are the only ones that are still reliably laying.
Part of that probably comes from the hybrid vigor from that whole mixed breed thing. They are very inquisitive, they’re not quite as nuts as my Appenzellars but almost. They’re the only other breed of chicken I regularly find in the trees.
Even after I added a new set of three low roosts to the coop I only see the Easter Eggers on the top roosts, they’re at least 7 feet off the ground but if they aren’t there they’re in the rafters in the main part of the barn.
Looking through pictures for this post I noticed I didn’t have a lot of in focus EE pictures. Part of it is I take a lot of pictures of the moms and I’ve never had a broody EE.
The other part is they are very fast and all over the place. They aren’t like my silkies and my garden buddy, a dominique, that follow me around everywhere.
Easter Eggers are Reliable layers
You won’t get quite as many eggs out of an EE as you will with a commercial laying cross but they do a good job filling your belly. They’re a medium breed, weighing in around 6-7 pounds and they are a dedicated egg breed.
Most of my birds are larger and considered a dual purpose, they lay eggs but also have enough ahem.. meat on their bones to be used for the dinner table. EEs don’t put any extra energy into sustaining a large body so they crank out more eggs.
EE’s are good layers, you can expect ~200-280 eggs a year from a hen. It will vary bird to bird and based on husbandry, including whether or not you light the coop in the winter.
They are some of the best layers I have, I tend to have a lot of green and blue eggs even though I have a lot more chickens that lay brown and white.
They Come in Travel Size!
Ok they aren’t really travel size but you can get bantam Easter Eggers. I had a few but I’m down to two now.
I call one my little dove, she’s little with a pretty dove grey & cream coloring. She lays the prettiest little blue eggs! The kids really get a kick out of tiny eggs, even more so when they’re a fun color.
Last year I ordered silkies and I try to limit my pointless chicken purchases but 2019 may be their year!
I do have one barn yard cross that’s a little too big to be a bantam but not quite full sized. She’s all black with the cheek poufs and hatched out 12 babies last year.
I’m not sure what she is mixed with but shes the only EE I’ve ever had sit on a nest. Of course I can’t get a cochin to go broody but my super flighty Appenzellar Spitshauben hen can’t seem to keep herself off a nest.
Moral of that story, chickens do what they want to. You can read everything there is to know about a particular breed and still end up with a bird that defies all the personality traits you chose it for.
Now that we have the good stuff out of the way I’ll break your heart a little.
Easter Egger Roosters are Mean
I’m basing this 100% on personal experience, if you have had other experiences I’d love to hear them so please share in the comments. Every. Single. Easter Egger Rooster I’ve ever had has been an asshole.
They were mean to the other roosters, mean to the hens and even picked at me and my kids. I have a no aggressive rooster policy so they don’t last very long around here.
It’s really unfortunate because they are stunning birds, especially when they’re fully feathered out with their adult saddle and hackle feathers. They’re feathered rainbows of anger.
I hope I’ve inspired you give Easter Eggers another glance next time you’re adding to your flock! Don’t forget to PIN this to your chicken board for later.
Check out my Livestock page for more of my chicken musings or start here: