Easter only comes around once a year, but by adding a few olive egger chickens to your flock, you can enjoy collecting gorgeous, olive-colored eggs all year round. Olive eggers are less well known than their relatives, the easter eggers, but their pale green-shelled eggs are equally sought after in egg baskets.
Olive eggers can describe any chicken that lays eggs with green color shells. This hybrid breed is the result of crossing blue shell layers with birds that lay dark brown eggs. They have no defining physical characteristics. Olive eggers are cold hardy, docile fowls that are good for beginners.
Like most hybrids, olive egger chickens don’t come with any standard breed features other than the unusual color of their eggs. By choosing parent stock wisely and understanding how the eggshell color is determined, it is entirely possible to breed hens that lay delightfully colored green eggs.
What Are Olive Egger Chickens?
Producing olive egger chickens is a lot like mixing paint on an artist’s palette. You start with a chicken breed with the gene to lay blue eggs and cross it with a breed that lays dark brown eggs. The resulting offspring are most likely to lay olive-green eggs; if they do, they can be called olive eggers.
Olive egger chickens, like their easter egger cousins, are true hybrids. This characteristic doesn’t matter to most chicken keepers, but they are not suitable for poultry owners who may want to exhibit their birds at poultry shows. The American Poultry Association does not recognize hybrids, and besides the characteristic egg color, their appearance can vary considerably between individuals.
It is impossible to provide a definitive physical profile of olive egger chickens because they are hybrid birds that result from crossing several possible combinations. However, in general, most olive eggers exhibit many of the following characteristics:
|Egg shell color||Olive green (This is the only definitive characteristic for this breed)|
|Eggs per year||150 – 200|
|Purpose||Eggs and (less common) meat|
|Egg size||Medium to large|
|Average size||Medium-sized chickens weighing between 6 and 8 pounds. Roosters are slightly larger than hens.|
|Average lifespan||5 – 8 years|
|Physical features that may be present in some olive egger chickens||Muffs, feathered legs, single or pea combs, beards, some may be rumpless. Some olive eggers may also have feather crests.|
|Temperament||Docile, curious, and independent. Olive eggers may be skittish but can become friendly if tamed using food. They usually integrate well into existing flocks.|
|Confinement||Olive eggers can usually tolerate confinement but need at least 4 square feet per bird. They do best in free-range settings.|
|Suitability to free range||Excellent. Olive egger chickens are excellent foragers, energetic, and alert to potential environmental threats.|
Physical characteristics like color are highly variable between individual olive eggers and depend greatly on which characteristic they inherited from each parent bird. It is, therefore, impossible to positively identify a flock of olive egger chickens until you see the color of the eggs they produce.
How Are Olive Eggers Made?
Although several crossing combinations can produce olive egger chickens, one of the most common is using Ameraucana hens crossed with a Marans rooster. Both are recognized breeds that carry genes for blue and brown-shelled eggs, respectively.
Several combinations of particular breeds can result in chickens that can be termed olive eggers. So long as one chicken parent carries the blue shell gene and the other offsets that with brown, their offspring is highly likely to produce green-tinged eggs.
These are some breeds that can be used to produce olive egger chickens. You would need to choose one parent from the left and the other from the right column to produce an olive egger chicken:
|BREEDS THAT PRODUCE BLUE EGGS||BREEDS THAT PRODUCE BROWN EGGS|
|Whiting True Blues||Penedesenca|
When olive egger chickens are bred together, the resulting hens may not all produce green eggs. The reason is that the green egg gene in the hybrid birds is not stabilized, so there will be no consistency in the shell colors they produce. Of course, this can add to an interesting palette in the egg basket, and shell color has no impact on the quality of eggs.
Can I Use Easter Egger Chickens To Produce Olive Eggers?
Since Easter Egger chickens lay blue eggs, it is natural to assume they can be used as one genetic donor to produce olive eggers. While this can work, the result may not always be successful.
‘Easter egger’ is a delightful blanket description for any chicken that produces blue-shelled eggs. They are often mixed offspring from Ameraucanas or Araucanas that were lucky enough to inherit the ability to lay blue-shelled eggs. Whether or not they will pass that trait along to their offspring is not guaranteed.
Crossing an easter egger hen with a dark shell-producing chicken like a Marans rooster may result in offspring that can produce olive-colored eggs – but results are unlikely to be consistent. The easter egger might have passed along genes from one of its plain-shelled relatives rather than the vibrant blue color that it lays.
At What Age Do Olive Eggers Start Laying?
Owning your own flock of chickens is always exciting, but having hens that produce various pastel color eggs takes things to a whole new level. The anticipation of finding the first olive-colored egg can make the wait seem like forever.
On average, olive egger hens reach point of lay when they are around five months old. The age can vary slightly depending on the season and breeds used to produce the hens, but with the correct coop setup and diet, one can expect to find the first olive green egg in a laying box before the six-month mark.
Like all hens, olive egger pullet eggs are small to start. When a hen lays for the first time, the shell color produced represents the tone she will lay for the rest of her life. The shade may become slightly lighter as the laying cycle progresses, but this usually resets after each molt.
Are Olive Egger Chickens Good Eggs Layers?
Olive eggers are good layers and can produce up to 200 eggs annually. While that number may be slightly behind breeds like Rhode Island Reds or Australorps, other breeds can’t match the beautiful olive-green color of the hybrid birds.
Not all olive egger chickens lay the same shade of olive green eggs. The exact color is determined by their breeding and which traits they received from each parent bird. It is, therefore, not uncommon to find that your basket of olive eggs varies in tone from greenish-tinged eggs to deeper olive.
Olive egger chickens are known to be consistent layers that are tolerant of various climatic conditions. They are an excellent choice for first-time chicken owners who would like to add some unusual color to their egg baskets.
Are Green Eggs Green All The Way Through?
Brown eggs are white on the inside, and blue eggs from breeds like Ameraucana chickens are blue on the outside and the inside. Since olive eggers are a hybrid of both, it can be surprising to discover that olive green eggs are blue inside.
According to Michigan State University, olive green eggshells result from a layer of the brown pigment protoporphyrin being coated over a blue layer late in the lay process. So while the outside of the egg has a green tinge, the inside remains blue.
What Do Olive Egger Chickens Look Like?
If it looks like a chicken and lays green eggs, it is an olive egger. That is the only certainty when it comes to the physical attributes of these interesting chickens.
Having a flock of olive eggers may give your chicken coop a rather shabby-chic appearance since the flock can appear to be a bit of a mismatched group. However, this can be very endearing, and individuals with puffy muffs or feathered crests can quickly stand out and show off their unique personalities.
Olive eggers can have any feather color. Some physical features that may be present in some olive eggers include:
- Crest (this feature commonly results when crested cream legbars are used to produce olive eggers)
- Beard and/or muffs
- Feathered legs
- Some birds are rumpless (this feature is more likely if Araucana chickens were used in the breeding)
- Pea combs
Olive Egger Personality
Since olive eggers are a combination of two different breeds, it is impossible to definitively predict how any bird will behave. Most poultry owners with olive eggers report they are relaxed, easy-going, and not troublemakers.
Olive eggers are excellent backyard chickens as they are friendly enough to be relatively tame but without the overbearing pushiness of some breeds. They are curious enough to come forward for treats eagerly but independent enough to happily spend their days foraging with the rest of their flock.
These hardy birds make great additions to homes with children, as they aren’t usually overbearing. Most farm children know the horror of regularly getting chased by an aggressive rooster! Although olive egger roosters will protect their flock, they are more likely to move away from potential threats than switch into attack mode.
Do Olive Eggers Get On With Other Chickens?
While the lure of adding some green-tinged eggs to your daily egg collection can be tempting, adding new breeds to an existing flock of established chickens can be challenging. Luckily, olive eggers are known to be docile, unfussed characters who prefer to fit in and get along rather than cause any riots in the coop.
In general, olive eggers make great additions to an existing mixed flock. Ensure that they are not picked on by more dominant established birds when they are first introduced to the other birds. As long as there is enough space per chicken and plenty of places to retreat if required, olive eggers usually integrate well into most setups.
Do Green Eggs Taste Different?
Green eggs, brown eggs, white eggs, and blue eggs all taste the same. Despite the difference in outward appearance, there is no difference in the taste or nutritional value of the contents.
Olive egger eggs can therefore be stored, prepared, and enjoyed precisely like regular brown or white chicken eggs. Their appeal is only shell-deep, so despite the unique pigment coating on the shells, they can still be used for everything from scrambled eggs to baking cakes.
Are Olive Eggers Good Chickens?
Olive eggers are an excellent choice for anyone who needs hardy birds with few health problems that produce a good number of eggs. The fact that their eggs are delightful shades of olive green is an added bonus and the number one reason why olive egger chickens have become so popular.
The decision about whether to add olive egger chickens to a flock depends on the primary purpose of the birds. Like all chickens, they can be used as table birds, but they aren’t well known for either the quality or quantity of their meat.
Olive eggers are not ideal for poultry owners who would prefer to have an aesthetically pleasing, uniform look in their flock. Because they are hybrid chickens, even when olive egger chickens come from the same breeder, there is likely to be plenty of variation in the appearance of individuals.
Olive Egger Health Issues
Potential health problems should be one of the deciding factors when choosing a chicken breed for any setup. In this regard, olive egger chickens have very few downsides. They are remarkably hardy, which makes them a good choice for novice chicken owners.
Since olive eggers have no set physical characteristics, owners must adjust their setups according to any unique features their birds may have inherited. An example is chickens with muffs and beards may require nipple drinkers during the winter months to prevent their facial feathers from getting wet and freezing.
Like all chickens, olive eggers are prone to parasites like mites or becoming a quick meal for roaming predators. However, these are challenges associated with all chickens, and overall, olive eggers score high for usually enjoying robust good health.
Do Olive Eggers Go Broody?
How often olive egger hens go broody depends on the breeds used to produce them. Most are known to go broody regularly, which is good news for anyone wanting to increase their flock naturally.
Keeping a flock of olive eggers does not guarantee that the next generation’s eggs will also be green. Chicks that hatch from green-shelled eggs may grow up to lay blue, green, or brown eggs depending on which combination of traits they inherit from the previous generations.
To get consistently produce chickens that lay olive-green eggs, a blue shell-laying chicken must be crossed directly with a bird that lays dark brown eggs. True first-generation olive egger chickens always hatch from blue or dark brown eggs and go on to lay beautiful olive green color eggs.
What’s The Difference Between Easter Eggers And Olive Eggers?
The only difference between easter eggers and olive eggers is the color of the eggs they lay. Both are a mixed bag of genetics, and neither is recognized as a standardized breed by the American Poultry Association.
Without seeing the color of the eggs being produced, it would be impossible to tell the difference between a flock of easter eggers and olive eggers. Both groups draw heavily from chicken breeds that produce blue-shelled eggs, like Ameraucanas or Araucanas, so they may appear similar physically.
Olive eggers have simply taken the blue shell coloring a step further and added a layer of dark pigment on the outside, which results in olive green-colored eggs. Keeping a mixed flock of easter eggers and olive eggers will result in a delightful assortment of colored eggs being gathered from the coop each day.
Where Can I Buy Olive Egger Chicks?
Fertile eggs and day-old olive egger chicks are available from many reputable hatcheries. One advantage of reliably produced olive egger chicks is that they are autosexing. That means male and female chicks are immediately identifiable, so you are unlikely to receive unwanted roosters if you only order pullets.
Regardless of which combination of blue and brown laying chickens is used to produce olive egger chicks, there is never any guarantee of what the resulting chickens may grow up to look like. Likewise, the shade of green eggshells produced by olive eggers differs between birds and can vary considerably.
Reliably produced olive egger chicks hatch from either a blue or a dark brown egg. That means that if you order fertile olive egger chickens incubate at home, you should not be surprised to receive eggs that are not olive green.
Olive egger chickens are the perfect choice for anyone wanting to add some charming color to their egg basket. They are hardy hybrid birds that thrive in most climatic zones, and their friendly nature makes them perfect for families. The only standard feature of olive eggers is their beautiful green-colored eggs.