Have you been enchanted by a picture of a basket of colorful eggs and wondered, can those be real? Can eggs come in colors like pink, blue, green, and dark chocolate brown?
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 chicken breeds. When you add a variety of breeds to your flock, then you can have a basket of colored eggs too!
We have a number of the following breeds in our little backyard flock, and I have to say, it’s an absolute delight going out to the nesting boxes to collect eggs, because you never know what’s waiting for you! Seeing a pile of ‘Easter Eggs’ in the box everyday never gets old, and we love to gift our eggs to friends, family, and neighbors to delight in as well!
Fun Facts About Colored Chicken Eggs
Eggshell color depends on the breed and genetics of each hen
As you’ll see in the rest of this post, certain breeds of chickens lay certain colored eggs. Some breeds lay blue eggs, some breeds lay eggs in a variety of colors (like easter egger chickens) and each specific hen may lay a different colored egg.
You may be able to tell what color egg a hen will lay by her earlobe color
Who knew a chicken’s earlobes could be the clue to knowing her egg color?! A hen with white earlobes, like the white leghorns, will lay a white egg, whereas a hen with red earlobes lay brown color eggs. However, this is not always the case as some breeds such as Silkies have blue earlobes but lay white or cream colored eggs.
A hen will lay the same color of egg throughout her life.
Hens don’t magically change the color of egg that they lay, once they start laying blue, they’ll always lay blue. Although, the vibrancy of the egg color may change throughout the hens life.
Almost all colored eggs are white inside
When you crack open a colored egg, the color of the eggshell inside is still white, except for blue eggs! These beautiful eggs are blue on the inside too!
Hens will lay different shades of color on any given day
We like to call it ‘running out of toner’ when one of our hens lays an egg that’s lighter in color than the day before. Sometimes you can even see different shades of pigment on one egg. We have an Easter Egger chicken that frequently lays eggs with stripes of different shades of blue, ranging from dark to very light, all on the same egg. This is a hiccup in the hens reproductive cycle, and it’s odd but fascinating!
The color of an egg does not change the egg nutrients
Some people believe that brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs. It’s not true in the slightest. This rumor likely came about because many farm fresh eggs are brown and many grocery store eggs are white. Farm fresh eggs do tend to have higher nutrient levels than grocery store eggs because of their freshness as well as the variety of healthy foods the hen eats while out on pasture.
When it comes down to it though, the different colors of the shell have no correlation to the nutrients of the egg you eat.
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?!
As you’ll see in the list below, different breeds of chickens lay different colored eggs. If you want a variety of egg colors in your basket, you’ll need a variety of chicken breeds as well!
Colorful Chicken Egg Breeds
Rainbow Egg Layers
The Easter Egger breed is a crossbreed, or many call them the mutt of the chicken world. Many times Easter Eggers 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 pink eggs, as well as blue, green, cream, and brown, and make an excellent addition to your flock. Our Easter Egger chickens are 8 years old and still lay several eggs per week, so if you’re looking for long term pets with benefits, this is the breed for you!
One thing to note about Easter Eggers is that while the breed is known for laying different colors of eggs, each chicken will only lay one color of egg in her lifetime. For instance, we have 4 Easter Eggers in our flock, Gandalf lays blue eggs, Radagast lays pink eggs, Zelda lays green eggs, and Bertie lays green-blue eggs. They’re all the same breed, but each chicken lays a different color of egg. Cool, right?
Blue Egg Layers
The Araucana are a rare breed of rumpless bird having no tail feathers and have tufts of feathers coming from their ears. 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 and harder to find. This breed lays beautiful blue eggs, but be prepared to pay high prices for these chickens!
This is the most popular blue egg layer and are less costly and easier to find than the Araucana. 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.
Cream Legbars are 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.
Green Egg Layers
These chickens are 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. Olive Eggers have become a really popular breed in the last few years and are pretty easy to find on hatchery websites. The olive eggs are truly reminiscent of Green Eggs and Ham, but luckily they aren’t green on the inside!
This is another auto sex breed that lays a green egg. They were developed in Sweden and lay about 200 eggs per year.
These cuties 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
This breed lays 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.
Brown Egg Layers
These chickens hailed from Spain and lay dark reddish-brown eggs medium-sized, averaging about three per week. Another unique featur of this chicken is its carnation comb, a single lobe in the front that parts into several lobes in the back.
These 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 toned eggs in a basket, they really 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 Marans 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! These beautiful birds are usually the first to sell out in the spring, so if you want to add some to your flock, be sure to be an early bird and order before it’s too late!
The Barnvelder breed, which originated in Holland, lays a golden brown egg. This tan egg is not the most special in the world, but it will certainly add variety to your rainbow egg basket. Besides, Barnvelders are lovely chickens that are known for their friendliness and quietness, which make them a wonderful addition if you have close neighbors.
White Egg Layers
Rounding off our list are chickens that lay a basic white egg. These aren’t as exciting as the colored eggs but mixing a few white egg layers into your flock will certainly give your egg basket a huge variety.
This breed is a fantastic egg layer and is even used in industrial egg farms because they lay practically every single day for years on end. This powerhouse breed lays big beautiful white eggs.
The Polish is a favorite due to their goofy ‘muppet’ looking head feathers, but they also lay beautiful creamy white eggs!
If your goal is to have a basketful of naturally colorful eggs, you can’t go wrong with picking a variety of the breeds on this list. Most of these breeds can be found at online hatcheries, but you may be able find a few of the more popular breeds, like Easter Eggers, at your local farm stores in the Spring.
Do be sure to check if the breeds you choose are appropriate for your climate. If you live in a region that gets particularly hot or cold, you’ll want your flock to be well prepared for that. You can check out our guides on cold and hot climate chicken breeds below!