Two terms you see a lot in this Rainbow Egging chicken world we live in are, “Easter Egger” and “Olive Egger”. These are catchy color terms for mixed breed chickens who can lay green eggs. The term Easter Egger has evolved to include any chicken who lays a non-typical egg color where the chicken that laid it doesn’t meet the standard of a documented breed. They are lovely mutts that have my heart, but those of us who breed for fun egg colors need to be diligent in labeling them as such. Preserving pure breeds is very important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!
Put very simply to produce a hen who lays green eggs you need a chicken who is from a brown egg laying breed and a chicken from a blue egg laying breed. That is the minimum. Let's dive deeper.
Terms to know before we get into the specifics:
*Homozygous - 2 identical alleles for a genetic trait
*Heterozygous - 2 different alleles for a genetic trait
We are going to take a broad look at creating Green Egg Layers (Green Easter Eggers & Olive Eggers). When crossing egg colors there are too many variables to predict an exact shade/outcome. Colors in the charts are only potential outcomes. You won’t know what you have until eggs from the offspring are in hand.
Notes: We have created this chart to help guide you through the basics of egg color genetics for breeding Green "Easter" Eggers with First Generation Olive Eggers as a bonus! Hen & Rooster are interchangeable in this chart, the genetics remain the same.
Let's get our recipe together for Green Eggs!
To produce a hen who is guaranteed to lay green eggs, her parents must be the following:
A chicken who is homozygous for Blue Egg Shell (2 blue egg shell alleles) and a chicken who comes from or lays any shade of Brown (Cream all the way to dark brown). We need a Blue Egg Shell Base Color and a Brown Layer “Overlay” to create Green Eggs.
Notice I said “guaranteed”. This is because it is possible to produce a hen who lays green eggs if a parent has only 1 copy of the Blue Egg Shell allele (like shown in 2nd Generation Green Egger graphic). In this case you will not know until a hen begins to lay if she inherited a Blue Egg Shell allele. By using a parent with 2 Blue Egg Shell base alleles, all of their offspring will inherit 1 copy and produce a Blue Based Shell color (shown in First Generation and Back Crossed to Blue). Brown layers contribute a deposit of the pigment protoporphyrin to eggs late in the process of forming the shell. The pigment therefore does not penetrate the interior of the egg, but tints only the surface of the egg giving us varying shades of green! The genes for Blue Egg Shell base color and protoporphyrin are different, which allows them to exist together.
So you want to add green eggs to your egg basket?
Let's look at a few options to help you achieve your goals.
You can purchase chicks or hatching eggs from a breeder who knows their flocks egg color genetics. We offer First and Second Generation Green & Olive Eggers in our Rainbow Layer dozens. We also breed true Ameracaunas who are homozygous for blue egg shell and various brown eggers to create your own Green Egger crosses!
You already have blue layers and a rooster from a brown laying breed in your flock. (or vice versa, though blue laying hens are easiest) You can start breeding for green eggs now using the charts above as your guide. Unless you know the parentage of both of your candidates it's best to assume you're at an F2 crossing until you've seen the eggs from your pairings offspring. If all hens lay green out of 5 or more hens you can guess your blue layer is homozygous.
You already have green layers and want to make more. To make more green layers use an Easter Egger Rooster or double blue egg shell allele breed (Ameracauna, Cream Legbar, Aracauna) Rooster, over your green egg laying hens to create Back Crossed to Blue (BC1) offspring.
If you have questions or tips to contribute we would love to hear from you in the comments!
Head Family Farm