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New Backyard Poultry Breed
A new breed of chicken called Easter Giants are stirring up a lot of interest because of their colored eggs and large size. Dr. Amy Gilbert crossed Jersey Giant roosters with Ameraucana hens to create the new breed. Two East Central University (ECU), Ada, Okla., students took on the breed analysis as a senior level biology project.
“The pandemic caused an explosion in the number of backyard flocks that were already becoming very popular nationwide,” notes Gilbert, a retired poultry scientist. “I wanted to come up with a dual-purpose bird that was large, friendly, docile, easy to catch, not flighty, and with a small comb that could withstand very cold weather. Most importantly, it would be super cute and lay colored eggs.”
ECU students Mollie Nance and Allie Verner were students of Gilbert’s husband, Dr. Carl Gilbert. They took Gilbert’s work to the next level, comparing the 3 breeds in terms of size, appearance, egg production, egg size and color. They also evaluated feed efficiency, rate of gain and free-range habits.
“The Easter Giants inherited the smaller pea comb from the Ameraucanas, rather than the single comb of the Jersey Giants,” notes Verner. “That is important for backyard poultry, as the single comb can be subject to frost bite.”
“They are big, cute birds with the bearded, muffed face and colored eggs of the Ameraucana,” says Nance. “They lay large eggs, about 53 grams versus 54 grams from the Jersey Giant. Productivity and feed efficiency are about the same.”
According to Gilbert, the Jersey Giant is slower to mature, reaching its full size in 2 years. It also starts to lay eggs around 6 mos. versus 4 mos. for most breeds.
“We expect the Easter Giants to reach the same size as the Jersey Giants, given their comparative rate of gain,” says Nance.
Size is another important characteristic for free-range, backyard birds, adds Nance. “The Easter Giants and the Jersey Giants roamed throughout the yard,” she says. “They were too big to jump the 4-ft. fence, unlike the Ameraucanas.”
Neither Nance nor Verner had prior experience with chickens, but both hope to have backyard birds in the future.
Meanwhile, Gilbert is selling all the chicks she wants via word of mouth, a yard sign, and ads on Craigslist. She plans to continue refining the new breed. Currently, she projects about 75 percent of chicks will have Easter Giant attributes.
“I would love it if someone wanted to develop the breed further,” says Gilbert. “I just wanted chickens that little kids would want to have in their backyard.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Amy Gilbert, 17130 CR 1520, Ada, Okla. 74820 (ph 479 466-5463; amylwaldroup@gmail.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3