Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Eggers

Easter is associated with eggs -- colored eggs, chicks, ducklings. Easter Egger chickens take their name from the colored eggs they lay. Everyone likes that.

Easter Eggers aren't a breed. They are a sort of mutt, carrying the blue egg gene into mixed-breed chickens. They can have any kind of plumage and conformation, depending on their heritage. What they have in common is the colored eggs.

That blue gene results in blue eggs in chickens that would otherwise lay white eggs. Khaki green eggs are the result of the blue gene on a brown egg, indicating a cross with some other breed. Unlike the pigment on other chicken eggs, the color is infused through the entire shell, as opposed to a brown shell that has a thin layer of brown over a white shell layer. It’s not a color normally seen but some love it.

Easter Egg chickens have the blue egg gene but are not pure enough to meet Araucana or Ameraucana standards. The birds originated in South America but have undergone selective breeding in North America for many generations.

This illustration is from the April 1927 issue of National Geographic, devoted to domestic fowl. It was the first time most Americans had seen Araucana chickens. It generated a lot of interest and excitement.

Ann Charles, editor of Exhibition Poultry magazine, is an Araucana expert.

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