Olive Egger, Welsummer & Black Laced Wyandotte Breeds Rule At Chicken Scratch Poultry

Chicken Scratch Poultry founder Angie McEwen talks about some of her most prized poultry, including Olive Eggers, Black-Lacked Wyandottes and more.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Chicken Scratch Poultry

Angie McEwen grew up on on a small hobby farm in McLeansboro, Illinois. And now she spends her days running Chicken Scratch Poultry alongside her husband, Larry McEwen.

“I’ve always been fascinated with anything feathered,” says Angie.

The McEwens initially purchased their farm in 1995 and raised three children there. Then Larry discovered fertile eggs on eBay, including Black Copper Maran eggs fetching $800 for four eggs.

“Suddenly Larry was hooked on things feathered, also,” she recalls.

We talked to Angie about her favorite heritage breeds and multi-hued eggs. We also spoke about the rewarding nature of dealing with poultry all day.

Specializing in Heritage Breeds


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McEwen says she decided to make heritage breeds the focus of her farm so that she could offer “poultry that are difficult to find and that have stood the test of time.”

She adds that heritage breeds are often “not always the easiest birds to produce.” Large hatcheries often shun them for this reason.

“I enjoy focusing on the true breed, how that chicken is supposed to look and behave,” she explains. “When you look at our photos on our website and you order that chicken, when you grow that chicken up it will look like the photo.”

Read more: Here are some tips for choosing the right heritage breeds for your flock.

Ranking Heritage Eggs

Asked about her favorite color of eggs, McEwen picks those of her Welsummers. “Each hen puts her own touch or signature on each egg,” she says. “Some hens put a fine spattering of speckles and some lay dark mahogany colored eggs with big dots. They’re just beautiful!”

Second place goes to the Ameraucana eggs. “This is the most misunderstood and confused breed in the United States thanks to the high production hatcheries. A true Ameraucana will only and always lay a blue egg [and] they’ll always have a slate gray leg.

“They’ll never have green, yellow or orange legs.”

Get to Know the Black Laced Wyandotte

One of the most eye-catching heritage breeds that you’ll find roaming Chicken Scratch Poultry? The farm’s resident Black Laced Wyandottes. McEwen describes them as “super friendly birds” that are a great fit for families with small children.

“When hand-raised as a chick they will be the chicken that will always eat out of your hand,” she says.

Read more: Get to know the Wyandotte chicken breed!

The Importance of Olive Eggers

“I think the breed I’m most proud of on our farm are the Olive Eggers or anything that lays the green egg on our farm,” says McEwen, citing an unofficial breed of bird that lays a particular color egg.

“I created those breeds myself. Our farm was actually the first farm in the United States to make, name and sell the Olive Egger back around 2008.”

The Joy of Poultry

McEwen sees pleasing regular customers as a key part of running a heritage poultry farm. “This year a lady emailed me and said. “It’s time for me to order more chickens. My hens I got from you are now 8 years old and I need some younger girls for egg production.

“That made my heart happy!”

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