FALL OVERHATCH!!! Discount Olive Egger Chick Surprise Boxes including F1, Later Gen, BC1/BC2 Bloom & Speckle Lines (STRAIGHT RUN)
Crosshatch is offering our full spectrum slate of olive eggers! We’ve blended our F1 OE and Later Gen OE into one day-old chick variety pack that pulls from all our pens. Price is per chick. Purchase at least 6 to get the full variety.
Note: Below is the description of our olive egger chick pairings currently. As of this week, we have just 5 hatches left in the 2024 season, and we expect to have extra olive eggers weekly, in each hatch! This listing is priced as a bargain run— $100 plus $55 for a surprise box of whatever we pull from our incubators! We expect you’ll receive between 8 and 20 chicks with an average discount rate of 50% from our normal pricing— most boxes have about 12 to 13 birds.
Crosshatch is offering our full spectrum of olive eggers as one mix! We’ve combined our Spring listings (F1 OE and Later Gen OE) into one day-old chick variety pack that pulls from all our pens. Purchase 6 to get the full variety of egg color and plumage— offered straight run, breeder’s choice.
First Generation Pairings
Our First Gen Olive Egger pairings are either Legbar under our purple bloom line Black Copper Marans or Ameraucana under our purple bloom line Black Copper Marans. We have seen some light sage green eggs from time to time, but our first gen olives are usually pretty pigment heavy with a rich medium green and sometimes speckles from the Marans influence. First gen OE hens under our Black Copper Marans with Legbar influence will hatch as small mostly black birds, growing to be all black in plumage with some brown speckling (mossiness), growing to be about the size and type of a legbar with the crest on the top of the head. First gen hens under black copper marans with Ameraucana influence will hatch as round, rotund chicks with puffy cheeks (muffs), growing to be black birds with copper necks, feathered feet, with muffs. Some variation in plumage and type will happen. About half of our first gen pairings are autosexing at hatch, and we pull the males before shipment so your chances of females is high with this group.
We’ve paired our resident first gen birds under our heavy bloom Black Copper Marans males as backcrosses, which tends to deepen egg color to a rich and darker olive. We’re also experimenting with first gen and later gen hens back under White Legbar and under Welsummer, which is giving us some lovely wild type and brown barring in our plumage. Backcrossed egg color will generally intensify toward darler olive and bark colors when under a brown-pigment depositing male, or toward spearmint/teals when under a male with genetics for blue egg shells. Though we’re working on some sequences to avoid this, birds back crossed to our Black Copper Marans can sometimes look very similar to their pure bred cousins, so you’ll want to be careful to not mix them up.
Later Gen Pairings
Our main Later Generation Olive Eggers stem from an experimental bloom pen manned by Big Blue (the largest rooster you ever did see) and a variety of olive eggers laying speckled sage green, olive green, and deep gold kiwi-olive green. You can expect future egg laying hens with blooms, speckles, and greens towards teals from this pen, with majority blue/black/splash feathering and a good chance of muffs (puffy cheeks from Ameraucana lineage). Chicks can hatch blue, black, splash, smoky, silver, or yellow and are usually rotund with muffs and sometimes feathered feet. Big Blue is an enormous male, standing hands above any other rooster we’ve ever kept, and we see his significant muffs, long legs, and deep chest carry over to his offspring, which tend to be unmistakeable at our homestead no matter the maternal genetics!
Olive Egger Genetics— Tints and Pigments
Egg-in-hand, there are only two types of egg shell color in chicken-dom, the world over. White egg shells (the OG), and blue egg shells, which are said to have originated in poultry in South America through genetic mutations after infection with a coronavirus, coming to the rest of the world as the Araucana breed. You’ll often read that blue egg-laying breeds produce oocyanin early in the laying process, which permeates the egg shell and actually turns it blue throughout— this is where the O/o genetic notation comes from, where capital O stands for blue and lowercase o stands for white. Current research has identified Biliverdin-IX and Zinc Biliverdin Chelate as the actual biochemicals responsible for the blue tint we observe in blue eggs. Some hens that lay blue are heterozygous (Oo) for blue pigment production meaning they carry one gene for blue and one gene for white, while some are homozygous (OO) and theoretically tend to be deeper blue (what we affectionately call double blues). Some blue tint can even look a bit blue-green. (Next time you crack a blue egg, peel the membrane away and see the level of blue tint from the inside!)
Brown eggs, on the other hand, are always a white egg shell from the inside. Though small amounts of brown pigment can bleed into the shell and tint it tan, all brown eggs are best understood as a white egg shell coated in a brown pigment (protoporphyrin) that is deposited on top. In the rainbow egg community, some breeds have gained popularity for being heavy brown pigment depositors, such as Marans. The darker and heavier the brown pigment deposited, the darker your brown egg. (Note that all heavy brown pigment breeds including Marans will lighten through the year and often will show variation in one given week per their rate of lay— biologically speaking, hens can only produce so much pigment to coat their eggs!)
Olive eggs, then, are a cross between a blue egg shell producing breed and a brown pigment depositing breed, plainly speaking. A blue egg shell coated in brown pigment gives us the greens we find along the olive egger spectrum. The depth of the green color is wholly dependent upon the depth of the blue shell tint and the amount and tone of brown pigment your pigment depositing breed can muster. Light brown and light blue laying birds will produce olive eggs that are generally lighter mint or lighter sage green. Birds with excellent blue tint and deep brown pigment will give you olive eggers that lay medium green to olive. (Next time you crack an olive egg, peel the membrane back and examine the shell color— it will be blue very time!)
Assuming you are crossing pure bred or tested lines, hens resulting from first generation olive egger pairings will always bring about a green egg, because they received the genetics to permeate the egg shell with blue tint early in its cycle, and brown pigment genetics to coat the that blue egg in brown pigment. Later generation pairings and backcrosses will lose their blue gene if not carefully paired to maintain it. We rotate all of our hens back under blue in sequences, but remember that browns from later gen or backcrossed pairings can be really interesting in their own right. Ours can range from mauve to bark and chocolate, or even sometimes mustard!
Heavy Bloom & Speckles
Bloom (called ‘cuticle deposit’ in the literature) is the last layer deposited on an egg when it passes through the oviduct. Made of calcium and protein and such, it is the antibacterial coating that protects the egg from invading organisms before it would be set upon by the hen, and therefore contributes to the shelf life we enjoy by keeping our homestead or farm sourced eating eggs on the counter. The commercial eating eggs industry doesn’t consider eggs sporting heavy bloom to be ‘grade A’ so we have become accustomed to a layer of bloom that is essentially invisible (and also mechanically and chemically washed off before the eggs make it to the grocery store shelf). Many breed clubs also discourage heavy bloom in their standard of perfection (Marans included). But in the rainbow basket, bloom is often partially responsible for the wow factor!
Heavy bloom can be solid and coat the entire egg or have a mottled or ombre apperance; heavy bloom can look slightly matte or be completely opaque and chalky. According to the literature, about 38% of bloom is genetic, with other environmental and nutritional factors playing a role in its deposit and prevalence. Bloom can change through the season, and often becomes more curious as a laying season progresses. An olive egg with a heavy bloom will often appear medium to dark gray, or even chalky sage to light gray with a very heavy bloom. Breeding for bloom increases the visual variety in your egg basket, but remember that eggs without discernible bloom still have it! In fact, a quick rinse under a stream of sink water doesn’t even remove it.
Speckles are essentially malfunctions in the brown pigment depositing stage— some liken it to clogged ink jets. Those hens that are prone to deposit partial and random pigments give us our speckles and freckles, which we also love combined with heavy bloom! Any given hen can lay bloom one day, ombre half blooms the next day, and speckles by Saturday, but we often see a hen who goes into full opaque bloom lay that way for the remainder of the laying season.
Breeding for deep pigment, bloom, and speckles involves many factors and even a little random luck! We select for deep pigmentation, bloom, and speckles across all of our pairings, and we see a lot of fun variation in our olives each year.
Cull the Dull, Keep the Deep
I like to think of deeply pigmented flocks as a result of duration and selection, which can’t be ‘bought’ in an act of consumerism. In the same way that an antique wood utensil takes on the marks of a hand over time, your flock will develop its own terroir over time, given your base genetics, your selection of further pairings, and all the environmental factors of your region and place including nutrition and soil and water.
To establish your program or back yard flock, commit to the process. Commit to duration. You’ll want to ‘cull the dull’ by identifying which hens in your flock lay lightly pigmented or otherwise dull eggs and rehome them, which allows you to ‘keep the deep’ tints and pigment depositors. Breed these together, or if you must, bring in further birds with desired characteristics and understand that in each generation you will have culls. delight in the surprises the following spring.
Those with the most delightful egg baskets cull the most from their flocks!
Waitlist & Shipping Timeline
All of our chick orders run on waitlists, which are served in the order of purchase with consideration for weather. After purchase you’ll receive an email from Brooke with an estimated window for your chicks to hatch. Please do not order if you are unable to wait and remain flexible— we do our best but can’t really count our chicks until they hatch! Orders placed in early June might be able to be served the following Monday if we have an overhatch from previously set eggs, but you should estimate receiving chicks in about 3+ weeks. We plan to ship into August or September this year, and reserve the right to delay your shipment for heat or massive storm fronts that are likely to disrupt shipping.
We ship chicks Priority Express through the USPS, unless ground transportation through Priority can get them there quicker. In nearly all cases we deliver to the post office around 3pm, the birds get collected in the Express-only van at 3:30pm and driven to the Cincinnati distribution center, where they will board a flight and arrive at your closest distribution center overnight. From there, they board trucks around dawn and are driven to your local Post Office. In some cases in large states they may be trucked through two distribution centers, which usually adds a day.
All chicks are shipped with grogel electrolytes and heat packs where appropriate.
What to Expect in Your Box
This listing is for one chick, breeder’s choice straight out of the incubator. If you combine this order with our pure purple bloom line of Black Copper Marans, we’ll aim to give you chicks that can be easily distinguished by their plumage. If you order six or more olive chicks you’ll get the full variety pack (two first gen, two later gen, two backcrosses).
We love our olives and think you will too!
One Day Old Chick, Six Day Old Chicks, Three Day Old Chicks
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