Originally Posted by dheltzel
I was being funny about the limit of course, but it *is* very hard to pick just 4, am I right?
The Ameraucana hens have been real slackers this winter, no eggs for months. I have a dozen pullets growing out, some of which will be point of lay before too long, so I expect to have blue and black Ams in the spring, but no blue Ams for a while.
My favorite dark egg layers are the Welsummers and Welbars, I think they are superior to Marans in many ways (probably gonna step on some toes with that declaration). Between those 2 it is a tough call, I *think* the Welbars are a bit stronger genetically and seem like better layers, but if there is a difference it is very slight. The Welbars have more genetic diversity for sure, but that could translate into a stronger chance of getting a pullet that lays lighter eggs. Even the light Welsummer/Welbar eggs are pretty, usually closer to the color of hot chocolate or a "dusty terra cotta" color. I get those from time to time. If someone wanted to best chance of a dark brown egg, I'd give the edge to the Welsummer, I just don't have enough experience breeding the Welbars. If you picked the darkest 50% of the eggs from my pens of Welsummer, Welbar and BCM's, I defy anyone to tell them apart. Likewise with the lightest eggs, and the percentage or dark to light seems similar to me, but my sample size is small and erratic (4 BCM hens and 7 Welbars, vs probably 40+ Welsummers over the last 2 years).
The very predictable eggs colors are white and light brown (is that why all commercial layers are those colors?). Once you get out of those colors, including green, the variability can be substantial. I refuse to predict the exact shade any hen will produce. Blue is more consistent than brown, and the variation in blue egg colors, toward turquoise or green, is caused by some amount of brown. Lightening the brown will lighten the green, so an olive-egger crossed to a blue egg layer "should" produce lighter green, but that's far from guaranteed.
I have 2 "crosses" this year for making green eggs:
1) An Olive egger that snuck into my CCL breeding pen x Reese CCL roo -- I think I only have 1 pullet, the most eggs I've gotten in a week is 7 (every one just hatched too!), and last week was 4.
2) Rhodebar pullets x Reese CCL roo -- only 2 pullets in that pen and they have not started laying yet. Rhodebars are my lightest brown egg layer.
I expect both of these to be autosexing. The second cross I did last year, but all were sold and I haven't heard from anyone that got them how they turned out.
Ameraucana and CCL breeders hate the green tint on an egg and it seems to be very hard to breed out the last of the brown and get a really blue egg. OTOH, it's easy to get green anytime you want it, but hard to get an exact shade because of the variability of the brown. If you bred for "mint green" for several generations I think you could get a good shade consistently, Isbars are like that. But if you breed CCL's or Ams for that, your efforts will be snubbed by the breed purists, lots of breeders will declare your birds to be "mutts" if you breed for green eggs. That's why I use hybrids to get green, and also why I have so few pullets dedicated to that color. Now that I said that I bet there a is run on green egg layers this spring, LOL.