For those who want to raise a chicken that can lay green eggs, the Olive Egger is one of the most reliable options. It’s a hybrid breed that combines the best qualities of several other fowls.
What’s more, Olive Eggers don’t shy away from being handled by humans. In fact, they’re known for being friendly throughout their lives. This trait has made them popular pets among farmers and backyard hobbyists alike.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Olive Egger. You’ll get a detailed description of the breed, including its history and appearance, as well as some tips on how to raise one at home.
Olive Egger Chicken Overview
|Netherlands, United States, France, England
|5–8 pounds (2.3–6.2 kg)
|Up to 8 years
|Typical Coop Space
|4 square feet per bird
|Minimum Run Space
|10 square feet per bird
|Tolerant of hot and cold temperatures
|Up to 5 eggs per week; 150–200 eggs per year
|Medium to large
|$3–$60 per chicken
|Suitable for Beginners
What Is an Olive Egger Chicken?
An Olive Egger chicken is a type of Easter Egger that is specifically bred to lay eggs with green or olive-colored shells. It is created by crossing a dark brown egg-laying breed, such as a Marans or Welsummer, with blue and green egg layers like the Ameraucana and Araucana.
In terms of egg production, Olive Egger chickens don’t disappoint; they produce between 150 and 200 eggs per year on average. This trait makes them one of the best breeds for laying green eggs.
Yet, despite its prolific laying ability and colorful eggs, this chicken is not an official breed recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA). In short, it can’t be used for exhibitions and shows due to its mixed origins.
That said, note that the Olive Egger’s popularity is not affected at all by its status as a non-recognized breed. With it being hardy, friendly, and docile, many poultry enthusiasts prefer it over other types of chickens.
Olive Egger Chicken Origin and History
Olive Egger chickens trace their beginnings back to the mid-1800s — a period that became known as “hen fever.”
Specifically, hen fever started when Chinese chickens were imported and mated with local breeds in England.
During this era, farmers in many parts of the world — including the Netherlands, the United States, and France — crossed different breeds to produce chickens with desirable characteristics.
The following are a few notable breeding pairs that contributed to the development of the Olive Egger:
- Araucana and Marans
- Araucana and Barnevelder
- Araucana and Welsummer
- Ameraucana and Barnevelder
- Ameraucana and Marans
- Ameraucana and Welsummer
- Legbar and Barnevelder
- Legbar and Marans
- Legbar and Welsummer
- Whiting True Blue and Welsummer
As you can see, those farmers initially mixed brown egg layers and blue egg layers to breed Olive Eggers.
Today, the Olive Egger chicken is celebrated for its dual-purpose functionality. This robust and adaptable breed now serves not just as a source of olive-colored eggs but also as a source of meat.
Olive Egger Chicken Appearance and Breed Standard
Determining the exact appearance of Olive Eggers can be a bit tricky, primarily because they have no fixed breed standard. In other words, their looks are greatly defined by the specific breeds of their parents.
For one thing, some Olive Egger hens and roosters might sport pea combs, feathered legs, and muffs, while others lack these features altogether.
Another unpredictable aspect is their plumage color. Though it’s most commonly observed in shades ranging from black to gray, a few of these fowls can be found sporting bluish-black feathers with orange highlights.
In addition, the Olive Egger chicken’s leg and foot pigmentation varies. Some display slate gray feet and shanks, whereas others have yellowish-green ones, all dependent on their genetic background.
The same goes for tail feathers. Mixed breed chickens with Welsummer parents tend to have green-black tails, while those bred from Black Copper Marans often possess glossy black ones.
Watch this video to get an idea of what Olive Eggers look like in action:
Olive Egger Chicken Size and Weight
Since Olive Eggers are hybrid chickens, you can anticipate they will come in various sizes. Still, most lean towards a medium build, fitting snugly within an average size range.
Regarding weight, Olive Egger roosters typically weigh between 6 and 8 pounds. Meanwhile, hens often weigh a bit less, averaging from 5 to 7 pounds.
Just like any other chicken breed, however, the final height and weight of an Olive Egger can be influenced by several factors.
In fact, everything plays a part in how big or small your feathered friend will become, from its overall health to diet and exercise habits.
Olive Egger Chicken Temperament and Behavior
Anyone who has spent time around Olive Egger chickens can attest to their friendly nature. I remember my first encounter with this crossbreed; I was amazed at how easily they integrated into my mixed flock.
In other words, their social demeanor ensures they get along smoothly with other chickens, making them an excellent choice for poultry keepers raising multiple breeds.
These chickens’ intelligence is hard to miss as well. They are inquisitive, often displaying a keen interest in their surroundings. This behavior can be seen when they’re exploring new spaces or free-ranging.
While most roosters of this breed are relatively peaceful, expect that, like any male chicken, they will exhibit territorial behaviors.
However, note that compared to some of the more aggressive breeds, the feistiness of male Olive Eggers is often toned down. It’s rare to see them engage in intense confrontations.
Egg Production and Broodiness of Olive Egger Chickens
Olive Egger chickens are excellent egg layers. Based on my experience raising them, they consistently produce 3 to 5 eggs weekly, which amounts to 150 to 200 eggs yearly.
Yet, what makes the Olive Egger’s eggs stand out is their striking coloration: a mesmerizing green or olive shade, giving them a spot among chickens that lay green eggs.
Further, what I noticed with my Olive Eggers is their early maturity; My chickens start laying eggs as early as five months old.
Additionally, I have also observed that their broodiness level is high, and it’s common for them to incubate eggs. This trait makes them suitable for those interested in naturally hatching chicks without additional equipment.
Noise Levels of Olive Egger Chickens
For those who are planning on raising Olive Eggers, it’s important to note that these chickens are not known for being excessively loud.
Of course, they will still produce the standard chicken sounds like crowing, clucking, and squawking, but not as intense or piercing as some other breeds.
However, remember that, like any living creature, the noise an Olive Egger produces can be influenced by its environment.
For example, if they’re in a stressful setting, it is possible for Olive Eggers to make louder sounds than usual. Similarly, if these chickens have faced poor upbringing or mistreatment, they may be more vocal.
How to Take Care of Your Olive Egger Chicken
Raising an Olive Egger chicken can be a fulfilling experience, but like any pet, it requires specific care. Below are comprehensive guidelines to help you ensure your feathered pet’s well-being:
Lifespan and Health Issues
In general, Olive Egger chickens boast a lifespan of up to 8 years. Yet, this duration can be extended if a particular chicken is well cared for and given the resources needed to thrive.
For instance, if you’re hoping to keep your Olive Eggers around for a long time, providing them with ample space, food, and temperature can help them stay healthy.
However, like most fowls, bear in mind that they are susceptible to common chicken health issues such as vent gleet, respiratory infections, and sour crops.
So, in order to protect your Olive Eggers against these conditions, it’s vital that you take good care of them.
This can be done with the help of regular checkups, proper cleaning practices, and making sure all of their needs are met.
Proper nutrition is critical for Olive Egger chickens at every stage of their life. For chicks, a high-protein starter feed is essential. To boost their protein intake further, consider giving them dried shrimp and mealworms as treats from time to time.
As my Olive Egger pullets start to mature and even lay eggs, I transition them and my cockerels to an 18% grower feed. This diet provides all the nutrients they need while they’re growing into fully-feathered adults.
When my Olive Eggers reach maturity, I give them complete laying feed with 16% protein content. I also give my hens oyster shells, which contain calcium, to make sure they’ll produce strong eggs.
Finally, remember that all Olive Eggers share the same basic requirements regarding water consumption. Specifically, about one liter per bird daily is sufficient for good health and egg production.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Typically, a proper coop setup ensures that an Olive Egger chicken may roam, rest, and nest comfortably. First, allocate about four square feet per chicken inside the coop.
Furthermore, make sure each of your Olive Eggers will be given a roosting space, averaging between 8 and 10 inches. This is where they’ll relax when they’re not busy eating or being active.
Moreover, laying hens appreciate having proper nesting boxes. The standard dimensions of such a box for these average-sized chickens would be 12x12x18 inches.
When it comes to outdoor roaming or run area, around ten square feet per chicken is ideal. You wouldn’t want to make this area too small, as it could encourage bullying or fighting among your flock.
One of the pros of Olive Egger chickens is their hardiness in cold and hot climates.
Chicks without a mother hen, however, require special care. Initially, they should be placed in a brooder with a temperature of around 90 to 95 °F. Heat lamps and heat plates work well for this.
Note, though, that the temperature should be decreased by five degrees per week until your Olive Egger chicks are ready to move outside — usually about seven weeks old or so.
In addition, keep the brooder clean at all times to prevent diseases from spreading among your fowls. The last thing you want is for your newly hatched chicks to get sick.
How Much Does an Olive Egger Chicken Cost?
Depending on age, overall quality, and sex, an Olive Egger chicken can run from $3 to $60. However, to better understand this price range, this section will examine it in further detail.
Firstly, you can expect to pay between $3 and $4 for an Olive Egger that is considered a straight run. Its gender isn’t specified yet, so its cost won’t be as expensive as one that has been sexed.
On the other hand, if you want to buy a specific gender of Olive Egger chicken, you’ll need to pay more. Pullets cost between $5 and $10, while cockerels go for about $3 to $6 each.
Meanwhile, adults come at a higher price, ranging from $10 to $60. These Olive Eggers have been fully grown and are ready for breeding purposes or meat production.
Overall, it is unsurprising that these chickens have such a wide range of costs. After all, the demand for colored eggs is on the rise, making Olive Eggers especially valuable.
Is the Olive Egger Breed Right for You?
Olive Egger chickens come with a mix of pros and cons. One major attraction is their unique egg color; they’re among the few breeds that lay just green eggs.
Additionally, they’re a hardy bunch, thriving in both hot and cold environments. Further, Olive Eggers start laying early and can produce nearly 200 eggs annually.
However, it should be noted that these chickens come with drawbacks, too. First, they are a specialty breed, making them difficult to find for sale.
Moreover, the Olive Egger isn’t recognized by well-known poultry associations. This can be frustrating if you want to compete in shows that require official registration papers.
Nonetheless, if you like what the Olive Egger has to offer — and don’t mind the disadvantages that come with it — then this breed may be an ideal choice for your backyard flock.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Olive Eggers Good Egg Layers?
Yes, Olive Eggers are good egg layers. These chickens lay up to 200 green eggs annually, marking them as consistent and reliable.
Olive Egger chickens also start laying eggs quite early. As a matter of fact, you can expect your Olive Egger pullet to begin its egg-laying journey around the age of 5 to 6 months.
Are Olive Eggers Good Chickens?
Olive Eggers are friendly and sociable chickens, making them delightful additions to any flock. Further, they offer more than just their unique egg colors; these chickens are also a valuable source of meat.
Additionally, they’re incredibly hardy. Whether facing hot summers or chilly winters, Olive Egger chickens can tolerate a wide range of weather conditions without much difficulty.
What Is the Difference Between F1 and F2 Olive Eggers?
F1 and F2 Olive Eggers are generally differentiated by their breeding lineage. Specifically, F1 Olive Eggers are the result of crossing two breeds: one that lays blue eggs and another that lays brown eggs.
On the other hand, F2 Olive Eggers are bred by pairing an F1 Olive Egger with a dark brown egg layer.
Typically, this second pairing aims to create a fowl that can produce eggs with an even darker shade of green, enhancing the distinctive chicken egg color this crossbreed is cherished for.
What Is the Difference Between an Olive Egger and an Easter Egger?
Generally speaking, Olive Egger chickens are a specific type of Easter Eggers. Yet, while both can indeed produce green eggs, their egg-laying range differs.
For instance, Easter Eggers have a more varied color palette, laying not just green but also blue, pink, brown, tan, and white eggs. In contrast, Olive Eggers are more focused on producing olive eggs.
Another thing to note is that the Easter Egger chicken can lay up to 280 eggs in a single year. Meanwhile, the Olive Egger is much less productive, laying only 150 to 200 eggs annually.
Olive Egger chickens offer benefits and challenges. Yet, those drawn to its distinctive attributes will surely enjoy raising this breed. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts about Olive Egger chickens!