Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Backyard Flock: The truth about green eggs

While Dr. Seuss was extolling the virtues of green eggs in his 1960’s children’s classic Green Eggs and Ham, millions of readers were sure that, like the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat, they were just the product of his rich imagination. So, when people jokingly ask me if we get green eggs from our chickens, they are surprised when the answer turns out to be yes. Then, of course they want to know if they taste better than regular eggs.

Over the past six years we have gotten eggs in a variety of different colors. White chickens tend to lay white eggs. That’s why whenever you see pictures from a commercial egg laying operation, the chickens are always white. They are Leghorns and they are reliable producers of large white eggs. Most other chickens lay in a range of brownish colors from a light tan to a deep red-brown. Barred Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds lay what considered to be classic brown eggs. Those of the Rhodies are usually a little darker in color than the Barred Rocks.

It’s the Araucanas that lay green eggs and blue and tan and you-name-it. Araucanas are like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. But mostly they lay eggs of a bluish-green color, like those depicted in the photo above. As with their eggs, no two Araucanas look the same. Some of them have plumage that makes them resemble hawks or eagles. Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis, who also happens to keep chickens in his yard here in Yellow Springs, Ohio, tells of how someone once called the Raptor Center at the Glen to report that they had rescued an injured hawk. When the folks from the Raptor Center examined the bird, it turned out to be an Araucana.

Currently, we have three in our flock. One of them has dark coloring topped off with a black head; another has orange feathers around her neck; and the third has light coloring. They are big, healthy, aggressive birds, generally not as easy to handle as the others. But if you play with them a lot early on, they can make good pets.

Back to the question about green eggs tasting better or different than regular eggs: I have not noticed any difference. Dr. Seuss notwithstanding, once you crack them open, white, brown, blue or green, inside they all look and taste the same.

A couple notes:

(1) Earlier this week, a neighbor warned me that he spotted a coyote crossing the US 68 just north of where I live and keep my flock.

(2) I heard that someone in town recently lost their entire flock to a predator. I have yet to check this out. But, of course, I am concerned about the rise in the number of coyote sightings around here. The farmer just across US 68 from where I live told he me lost a calf to coyotes last spring.


Anonymous said...

I saw a coyote cross Dayton-Yellow Springs Road about a half mile west of the McGregor Bldg.

Anonymous said...

Another good story. Turns out chickens are more interesting than I thought. Who knew? Please keep writing about them.

Unknown said...

I should not have been surprised that chickens have such varieties of eggs. We keep finches and they also lay many varieties of eggs.