Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Olive Egger Mystery

You may remember earlier this spring when we ended up with a bunch of new chicks.  i was trying to hatch out olive eggers. Olive Egger chickens are not an actual breed, but a cross of two breeds — usually a blue egg layer and a dark brown egg layer. For example, when an Ameraucana hen's egg is fertilized by a Marans rooster, the resulting chick will be an Olive Egger who will lay olive green eggs. i only have one olive egg hen, and i've been trying to breed her with my Black copper Maran rooster, so that the female chicks would then lay dark olive eggs. When i tried this last year, i end up hatching out all roosters.  This year, i tried again, but the olive eggs kept disappearing or breaking.

Then my wild hens began disappearing and returning with chicks. We had to give away a bunch of them. i bet those crazy hens hatched out 60+ chicks. It was so frustrating, because i really didn't need any more chickens, i just wanted to have a couple more olive eggers.  Many of the new chicks look just like my other wild/gamey birds. A few have the same striped look of my Olive egger hen, leading me to believe one of the Olive egg roosters may have fathered them. 

 i was under the impression that the roosters wouldn't carry the olive egg gene to pass on to their chicks, so imagine my surprise when a couple of my spring chicks started laying and i got an OLIVE EGG! It's a really dark olive too.  All three of these eggs came from chicks from that first clutch of 16.  There are two large fluffy gray hens in that batch that looks more like domestic hens than the wild girls. One has started laying the brown eggs that are just a shade or two lighter than my maran eggs, and the other is laying the olive eggs.  The bright white egg came from one of the wild girls, even though they typically lay an off white cream. 

My egg color variety is really fun right now. My marans are currently molting, but when they start laying again they lay the chocolate brown eggs. My original olive egger, Olive lays olive eggs like the one above but much larger and maybe just a hair lighter.

This is my beautiful mystery hen that is laying the olive eggs. i named her Gracie. She is such a gorgeous and unusual looking hen. My wild hen hatched her out, and she wasn't sitting on any green eggs...so i have no idea what Gracie  is a mix of.  Here, i've been trying to hatch out the green/olive eggs to get an olive egger and i get one without even trying. With the amount of wild birds we hatched out, i have to think she's probably not the only one. Although she is the only one with this look.  

In all my efforts to actually hatch out an Olive egger from an olive egg, i only ended with two chicks. As they grew i was pretty excited, because i was certain that both were girls. Then one morning i found one of them dead in the coop.  i believe my Maran rooster who is quite large may have crushed her, as they were fully feathered but still tried to climb under the other birds like they did with their mama. That left me with one Olive egger. This girl.  She is not laying yet, but when she does she should lay dark olive eggs. Even darker than the ones i'm already getting. She is a mix of Olive Egger ( americana/maran) and Black Copper Maran.  So i'm really excited for her to lay, although it probably won't be until the spring.

i've been trying to thin out my flock and give away as many of the new birds as i could, but now i feel like i need to wait until spring to see who may be laying olive eggs. One of the main things i had wanted to do it get the green gene introduced into my flock, so i wasn't dependent on my one olive egger for green eggs. If something happened to her, i would no longer have olive eggs and Olive eggers are difficult to find. However, Gracie has proved that i don't have to hatch them out of olive eggs, the roosters must also carry the gene.  So i really think i've succeeded in that. i can't wait to see what other egg colors we end up with.


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