Have you been enchanted by a picture of a basket of colorful eggs and wondered, can those be real? Colors like pink, blue, green, and dark chocolate?
You may be thinking, is it a magic chicken? Do they feed them a specific type of feed? Are they dyed?
The answer is NO.
Colored eggs come from different breeds of chickens that you can add to your flock, and then you can have a basket of colored eggs too!
Here are a few fun facts about colored eggs:
- Eggshell color depends on the breed and genetics of each hen
- You may be able to tell what color egg a hen will lay by her earlobe color. For example, a hen with a white earlobe lays a white egg, but a hen with a red earlobe lays a brown egg. However, this is not always the case as in Silkies, who have blue earlobes but lay white eggs.
- A hen will lay the same color of egg throughout her life. Although, the hue may be darker as her laying cycle comes to an end.
- Almost all colored eggs are white inside except for blue eggs that are blue throughout.
- Hens will lay different shades of color on any given day
- The color of an egg does not change the egg nutrients
How Does a Hen Lay a Colored Egg?
According to the Michigan State University article: Why Are Chicken Eggs Different Colors?
“The journey through the chicken’s oviduct takes approximately 26 hours. The shell takes roughly 20 hours to be complete. Ameraucana birds have the pigment oocyanin deposited on the egg as it travels through the oviduct. This pigment permeates the eggshell resulting in the interior and exterior of the egg is the same blue color. Chickens that lay brown-tinted eggs deposit the pigment protoporphyrin on the eggs late in the process of forming the shell. The pigment, therefore, does not penetrate the interior of the egg, but tints only the surface of the egg, which is why brown eggs are white on the interior.”
Isn’t that amazing?! Let’s take a look now at the breeds that lay the eggs.
Colorful Chicken Egg Breeds
The Easter Egger breed is a crossbreed, or many call them the mutt of the chicken world. Many times they are advertised as a cross between an Araucana and an Ameraucana, but they can be a crossbreed with Marans, Legbars, or any other breeds.
These hens lay eggs with a variety of shades of pink, blue, and green and make an excellent addition to your flock.
Araucanas are a rumpless bird having no tail feathers. They are often mistaken for Ameraucanas, and unscrupulous breeders will interchange the two for profit. Araucanas are the rarer breed of the two and therefore, are more valuable.
Ameraucanas also lay blue eggs and are less costly. They have a beautiful plume of tail feathers and lay 170-200 medium blue eggs each year. Find out even more about this treasured bird: Breed Spotlight: Ameraucana.
A Cream Legbar chicken is a crossbreed between a Barred Plymouth Rock, a Golden Leghorn, and an Araucana. It was developed in Great Britain as an auto sex breed, the ability to easily distinguish between a rooster and a hen as soon as they hatch. A Cream Legbar hen lays light blue eggs.
Olive Egger is a cross between the Araucana and a Maran or Welsummer. The dark brown egg color crossed with the blue makes for an olive green egg.
Isbar (ice-bar) is another auto sex breed that lays a green egg. They were developed in Sweden and lay about 200 eggs per year.
Favaucanas are another crossbreed chicken, this time between a Favorelles and Wheat Ameraucanas. This duo of breeds produces sage-colored eggs, which is another unique color.
Ice Cream Bars a range of green tones from teal through a blueish green. These hens are a cross between Isbars and Cream Legbars, thus the name Ice Cream Bars.
Penedesenca chickens hailed from Spain and lay dark reddish-brown eggs medium-sized, averaging about three per week. Another unique feature of this chicken is its carnation comb, a single lobe in the front that parts into several lobes in the back.
Welsummer chicken eggs are a stunning chocolate brown that sometimes have dark speckles on them. These eggs are a show stopper, and combined with the lighter color toned eggs in a basket, they stand out.
Marans lay a really dark chocolate-brown egg as well. There is a grading scale for brown eggs from zero to nine, zero being white and the Maran eggs fall in the five to nine category. Black Copper Marans are cherished for their beautiful dark brown eggs, but because of that, they’re usually harder to come by and more expensive!
A Barnvelder breed, which originated in Holland, lays a golden brown egg. The egg tone is more in the middle of the categorization.
As you can see, there are quite a few varieties to choose from; however, you want to make the variety you choose does well in your climate.
If you decide to add some color to your egg basket by adding some of these fine feather beauties to your flock, let us know!