Novice poultry owners can often become confused at the weird and wonderful breed referred to as Easter Eggers. This is because there is no breed standard – ‘Easter egger’ is just a charming name to describe a kind of happy-go-lucky mixed chicken breed, so telling the roosters and hens apart can often be a challenge.
Easter Eggers are a hybrid breed, so there is no breed standard. Roosters and hens may only be differentiated when they are mature. Roosters are often larger and develop leg spurs, bigger wattles, and more prominent saddle feathers and tails. Chicks can be vent-sexed, but it is not always accurate.
If you have a batch of Easter Egger chicks and are eager to know if they are roosters or hens, you may have to wait until the birds either start laying or crowing to know for sure. However, there are some signs to look out for to give you clues.
What Exactly Is An Easter Egger Chicken?
If you visit ten different poultry owners, you could see ten variations in what their flocks look like, and all of their owners may call them Easter Eggers (EEs). The only qualification to earn this title is laying unusually colored eggs – usually light blue.
EEs are an excellent choice for backyard poultry owners as they are easy-going, hardy chickens that provide a steady supply of pretty eggs. However, they are not ideal if you need to add glamor to your coop, as they can be any shape, size, or color, and, although rare, they may even differ in temperament.
There is often confusion between Easter Eggers, Araucanas, and Ameraucanas. All three produce pale blue eggs, but only the last two are recognized by the American Poultry Association and have specific breed standards.
Aracana and Ameraucana chicks will undoubtedly also cost considerably more than EEs. Some cunning breeders try to inflate the price of EEs by altering the spelling of Ameraucanas – note, there is no ‘I’ in Ameraucana, so don’t fall into the trap of paying top dollar for chicks that are mixed-breed EEs.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with EEs, except that they come with no consistency of appearance or temperament. Telling the roosters and the hens apart before maturity can be tricky – sometimes the best clues are watching for rooster-type behavior in youngsters – for example, little roosters are more likely to face off and play-challenge each other than pullets.
Seven Differences Between Easter Egger Roosters And Hens
Since Easter Eggers could be a show-and-tell of physical characteristics from any breed, it is more beneficial to be able to tell the general difference between roosters and hens in poultry rather than looking for any breed-specific features. It is also usually easier to tell the sexes apart if both are present in a flock as you can compare them.
Easter Egger Roosters May Be Bigger Than Hens
Roosters from the same batch may be larger than the hens. However, this is only applicable within the same group.
The average weight of a chicken classified as an Easter Egger is between 4 and 8 pounds. Some EE roosters might be quite small if they picked up some genes from something like a bantam, so it is entirely possible to find EE roosters that are smaller than EE hens from other batches.
Roosters Are More Likely To Develop Leg Spurs
All chickens have small nubs on the inside of each leg. If they are roosters, these tiny bumps are more likely to thicken, grow and get sharp points. Hens usually have thinner legs.
Most Roosters Have Larger Combs
Easter Eggers are tricky to tell apart because they frequently have pea combs. This is a handy feature in cold climates, but it doesn’t give too many clues about the gender of the bird.
Most roosters have thicker and longer combs than hens. They may also be a brighter color.
Roosters Will Start Crowing
One of the surest ways to know if an Easter Egger is a young rooster or a hen is to wait until they start announcing it themselves. Young roosters usually start practice making attempts at crowing – fortunately, it takes a while for them to get the hang of it – from between 8 and 20 weeks of age.
Just because an EE rooster starts crowing doesn’t mean that pullets will start laying at the same time. Point of lay can vary significantly between breeds and may also be affected by the season. As exciting as it is to find the first pretty blue egg in a nest, patience may be the name of the game.
Hackle And Saddle Feathers Are Longer On Roosters
A mature rooster can develop two long flowing mantles of feathers. The one around the base of his neck is called a hackle (it can be puffed out if facing off with a rival), and the one over his rump is called the saddle.
Hens also have hackles and saddle feathers, and although they may show variation in color, they don’t get as long as roosters. Remember that Easter Eggers are a delightful mixture containing elements from many breeds, so there is no guarantee about color or pattern.
Roosters Develop Longer And Tail Feathers
Most roosters of all breeds develop longer tail feathers than hens. In comparison, hens usually have modest tail feathers above a fluffy bloomer-like short, feathered bottom. The long feathers on the back end of roosters are called sickle feathers, and they can sometimes become impressively showy.
Behavioral Differences Between Roosters And Hens
Hens and roosters fulfill different functions in a flock, and gender-related behavior is often evident from a young age. Although there may be some individuals who break from the mold, this is what you can usually look out for to tell the young roos from the pullets:
- Rooster chicks often puff up their little bodies and play-flight each other from an early age.
- Young roosters may appear more independent, watchful, and bold.
- Hens prefer to hang out together in little groups and seem more tuned in to what they are doing rather than looking around.
- Roosters often carry themselves with a more upright profile than hens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we have covered some possible ways to tell if your Easter Egger chickens are roosters from hens, let’s go through some frequently asked questions.
Do Easter Egger Roosters Have Wattles?
Easter Eggers roosters can have wattles if they take after a side of the chicken family with this feature. However, more times than not, they do not have prominent wattles.
The lack of wattles means that they can use standard drinkers without the danger of dipping and freezing during winter. However, note that EEs often have muffs and beards that must stay dry during icy weather.
What Age Do Easter Eggers Start Crowing?
In the same way that point of lay varies between breeds, the age that juvenile roosters start to crow is also variable. All young roosters will begin making some attempts to crow by the time they are 20 weeks old.
The first, almost comical attempts from all breeds of young roosters can begin as young as eight weeks. However, if they haven’t stretched their necks out and tried to greet the morning by the time they are five months old, chances are good that it is a hen.
Are Egger Roosters Aggressive?
All roosters are territorial and protective of their flock, including Easter Eggers. However, most EE owners find them to be docile and friendly. They prefer to get away from potential trouble than start it.
Like all chicken flock situations, the ratio of hens per rooster must be carefully maintained to keep the peace. Add to that sufficient food and space, and it is unlikely that an EE rooster will become aggressive.
Like many mixed breeds, most EEs, especially the darker colors, are excellent at blending into their surroundings and making the most of the great outdoors. Roosters remain watchful and sound the alarm if predators are lurking.
Easter Eggers are an excellent choice for families with young children. These chickens don’t have a lot of health problems, and if they are raised from chicks, they are friendly and curious but without being overbearing or aggressive.
However, since EEs are a mixed breed, there are no guarantees that there won’t be one or two individuals that aren’t as calm as the others. It is unusual, but stay on the alert as in all families, there may be that one weird cousin that doesn’t seem to be related.
Are Easter Egger Roosters Friendly?
If they have sufficient space, food, and the correct ratio of hens per individual, most Easter Eggers roosters will make delightful, curious, and friendly additions to a flock. They are generally docile and will come running to meet you and check out what snacks you may have.
Easter Eggers, even the roosters, often make excellent pets. Roosters are usually bolder than the hens and are more likely to have distinct little personalities, which can be very endearing.
Nothing about Easter Eggers is set in stone, and you could very well end up with a perfectly acceptable EE chicken that looks like its great Rhode Island Red cousin that still lays blue eggs. Or a rooster that takes after a long-lost nutty bantam uncle – they are an exciting breed of variables that make a great addition to any backyard coop.