Marans, Welsummer, and Easter Eggers OH MY!

Many people raise chickens for eggs and/or meat. We raise ours just for egg production. Even when they get old and stop laying eggs we keep them around and let them live a long happy life. We absolutely love being able to provide a safe large area or them to forage for bugs and worms. To do this can be quite the task when you live in a rural area. My husband installed an impressive fence that even curves underground to keep out digging predators. However, that 5 foot fence didn’t keep out whatever killed our entire flock last year. Some of those prized chickens were over 10 years old. Our Lavender Orpington whom I named Luke Bryan (because he was so pretty and could sing) was also killed on the same night. Whatever it was, it took on some the most hardy chickens I’ve ever known.

A Golf ball to keep snakes from eating eggs

We then bought 8 Ameraucana pullets from a local family in town. It turned out that three of them were roosters. If you’re not familiar with raising chickens… 3 roosters is too many for a small flock. Typically 1:7+ is the ratio you want for a breeding program. We’re not raising chickens to breed/sell, but sometimes it’s nice to hatch our own chicks instead of having to buy them. In all reality, we didn’t want more than 1 rooster regardless of the flock size. YET here we are.

I don’t have it in me to kill the extra roosters and nobody around here wants one. So, we decided to buy enough chicks to even the playing field a bit.

19 day old Welsummer and Easter Egger chicks that we bought from Cackle Hatchery.

We are the proud parents of 24 new tiny chicks. We now have 4 breeds of chickens. In this section I’m going to walk you through the breeds we have and why I chose them.

Welsummer
Egg color: medium brown with dark speckles
Egg production: 170+ per year
Size: Hens- 6lbs Roosters- 7 lb

These chickens originated in Welsum, Holland in the early 1900s. In 1991, they were finally added to the American Standard of Perfection. They are known to be dual purpose birds (meat+eggs) with beautiful golden to red brown feathers. These chickens are still considered a rare breed here in the USA but are picking up popularity. I chose these because of their docile personality and brown eggs!

French Black Marans
Egg color: dark chesnut brown
Egg production: 200+ per yr
Size: Hens- 6 lbs Roosters- 7.5 lbs

You can bet these chickens originated in the Marans of France! These lovely black feathered birds are excellent egg layers! Black Marans have feathers down their legs even! We certainly look forward to having tons dark brown eggs this fall! Here is a color chart for Marans eggs. According to the Marans Club in the UK, their eggs should be between a 4-7 consistently. Any eggs colored between a 1-3 isn’t acceptable and anything darker than a 7 is ok but not typical.. more of a rare occurrence. I decided to get a few of these to add some more variety in the color of eggs we have. I may get some Cooper Marans next year if these do well with our flock. Marans can be less than friendly so I didn’t want to disturb the peaceful vibe we have right now by adding too many at once.

photo credit: http://www.themaransclub.co.uk/eggs-and-egg-colour-chart/4541995077

4 few days old French Black Marans pullets

Ameraucana
Egg color: blue
Egg production: 180+ per year
Size: Hens-5.5 lbs Roosters- 6.5lbs

These are one my favorite breeds of chicken. They are known to be super friendly docile chickens. Even the roosters we’ve had we’re all sweet. Many of them love to come sit on your lap for a visit. These chickens are also known to have muffs, beards, silver legs with white bottom, and a peacomb. What many people do not know is: they’re a product of selective breeding of the Araucana. Araucuanas originated in Chili and are an even more rare breed than Ameraucanas. This is because they possess a gene that can be lethal to the baby chick. That particular gene is what gives them their tufted ears. When you have a rooster + hen that both have the gene, then many times the chick dies inside shell. The one major difference between the two breeds is that Ameraucanas do not have tufted ears.

So what does all this have to do with Easter Eggers?

Easter Egger
Egg color: pink, light brown, green, or blue
Egg production: 180-200 per year
Size: Hens- 6 lbs Roosters- 7 lbs

This breed isn’t a true breed. They’re the mutt of a Ameraucana (or Araucana) and possess the blue egg genes. They don’t meet the breed standards of either completely and sometimes can have other breeds in them as well. They can have all the same traits of them or a few. Ours for example have silver legs, peacomb, muffs, but lay shades of green,blue and pink eggs. A true Ameraucana or Araucana would ONLY lay a blue egg. None the less, these beauties are still very friendly, and quickly becoming the most popular breed! I went ahead and got several of these chicks because they are super sweet, have colorful eggs, and saved a few bucks in comparison to the pure breed Ameraucana. After all, we’re not a breeding program! We’re in this simply for the colorful eggs and friendly fluffy chickens.

Eggs in every color, including a giant one
The adult flock of Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers in winter.. munching on broken egg shells and various fresh veggies.

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