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Chicken Breeds and Their Egg Colors

Last Updated: 25.05.20

 

If you’re thinking a chicken coop heater will help your hens lay more colored eggs, we’re sorry to say this isn’t exactly true but you’re still a good owner for wanting to buy one. The truth is that all eggs start out as white and get colored through a process happening inside the hen before being laid.

 

Did you know?

While raising chickens seems to be all the rage these days as more and more owners opt to buy some of these beautiful birds for their backyard, many of them still do not know that chickens don’t only lay white eggs. 

Imagine the excitement of peering into your nesting boxes and finding not only white but an entire rainbow of different colored eggs almost every day of the whole year. Doesn’t that make you want to have your own flock if you don’t already?

The truth is, there are more than 60 breeds of chickens officially recognized by the American Poultry Association and hundreds more developed worldwide by a process called cross-breeding. Many of these lay gorgeous eggs in a variety of different colors ranging from white to cream, pink, blue, green, and even chocolate brown. 

While the color of the eggshell has no impact whatsoever on the egg’s nutrient value or taste, some people want to put some color in their egg baskets so, if you’re the same, we’re gonna give you some breeds that you can consider for this.

Indeed, some of them are becoming so rare that they can only be found in specialized hatcheries while others are only available from online breeders.

 

 

Blue eggs

To be fair, ever since Martha Steward shared a photo of her egg baskets bursting with beautiful blue eggs, this has become quite the trend. Azure eggs have been more and more coveted by backyard chickens everywhere. If you want to get some yourself, Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Cream Legbars are all famous for laying them.

The Araucanas are the most famous of these breeds. Originating in Chile, it’s speculated that this is the only breed developed prior to Old World contact so this would make them the only type of chicken that is native to the Americas.

As much as that may be true, Araucanas are very rare in the United States due to the fact that their gene for ear tufts is a lethal one. These birds are rumpless, which means they have no tail feathers and have ear tufts. Offspring with two copies of the ear tufts gene will not survive to hatch.

Therefore, when breeding Araucanas, 50% of chicks will have one copy of the gene and ear tufts, 25% will have zero copies and no ear tufts while the other 25% will have two copies and unfortunately not survive.

 

Green eggs

If you want to be nature-colored in your everyday omelets, consider raising some aptly-named Easter Eggers. In fact, a flock of this mixed breed can lay a rainbow of egg colors on their own, this being one reason why they are so popular among breeders. Olive Eggers or Favaucanas can also give you green eggs too. 

Another breed called Isbar lays a very special greenish-colored egg that can range from mossy to mint green.  

The Easter Egger is a relative of breeds like Araucanas and Ameraucanas because by definition any chicken that possesses the blue egg gene but does not fully meet the standards of the American Poultry Association is an Easter Egger.

While the variety of colors their eggshells can have is what makes them great, please note that one hen will only lay one egg color in her lifetime. However, they are a breed that tends to lay a lot so you’ll likely get something in the range of 280 eggs per year.

 

Cream/Pinkish Eggs

A nice change from the ordinary brown or tan eggs, cream or pale pink eggs will be something different which you can brag to everybody about when they come to visit your flock. Breeds like Light Sussex, Mottled Javas, Australorps, Silkies, Buff Orpingtons, and Faverolles all lay this type of eggs.

As noted above, some of those fabled Easter Eggers will also sometimes lay cream or pink eggs, while others will stick to green and bluish ones.

The Light Sussex breed has a very nice history since it has connections going all the way back to 43 A.D. when the Romans invaded Britain. This dual-purpose breed still has a reputation of being one of the finest in the country. Something that you may want to know about them is that they put on fat very easily, so be careful in feeding them those tasty treats.

 

 

Dark Brown Eggs

While brown eggs are pretty common, gorgeous dark chocolate brown eggs are not and if you can get a hold of those, you’ll really spice up the colors of your basket. If you are wondering about the breeds that you have to get in order to obtain these eggs, you have to go for Welsummers, Barnevelders, Penedesencas, and Marans.

Barnevelders were originally named after the Dutch town of Barneveld. They are a medium-sized, dual-purpose bird that is among the hardy breeds and will not get sick easily. These chickens are good foragers, good winter layers and have a calm disposition which makes them less prone to giving you problems.

 

White Eggs

Sometimes old is gold and among all those shiny colors you will maybe want to add a few white ones as well. When it comes to this color, Leghorns are the most common breed to lay them but there are several other Mediterranean breeds of chicken including Andalusians, Anconas, Lekenvelders, Polish, and Hamburg.

While many people still argue if the correct pronunciation of the word is ‘Leghorn’ or ‘Leghern’, these birds are great no matter which one of those options is true! A fun fact is that this breed was developed simultaneously in England and the U.S. in the 1850s, with ancestry tracing its roots back to birds from Northern Italy.

Socially, Leghorns are very active birds that will be found scratching and foraging the day away with the very best of them. They are also hardy and are among the easy breeders of the chicken race. However, their best reputation comes from their egg production since their owner can easily expect 280 eggs in the year, even from the laziest of hens.

The very responsible ones can even get up to 300 so many of the white eggs you see in grocery stores actually come from this breed of chicken. Therefore, they deserve a thought every time you’re going to buy a carton of eggs from now on.

 

The taste

Once you get all these different hens and colors in your flock and you share the eggs with your friends, you may have some of them think that green eggs taste better than the blue ones or that the chocolate browns are way tastier than plain whites. 

However, as we’ve told you earlier, eggshell color has no impact whatsoever on what the egg tastes like. This is because all the eggs are the same on the inside and the taste is dictated by what the hen eats. For instance, while a single food will not affect the taste of an egg, a diet high in grasses, vegetables, seeds, and herbs will typically result in a better-tasting egg.

When comparing tastes, however, you also want to take into account its freshness because a fresh egg will almost always taste better than one that was laid a couple of days ago.

 

 

The process

The entire process of an egg being formed takes around 26 hours from start to finish, while the actual eggshell is ready in around 20 hours 

The remaining 5 hours are when the egg gets colored going through a dye process where a pigment is sprayed on it inside the hen. Remember that all eggs start out as white and only this internal process causes them to change colors.

There are other things which can have an impact on the color of your hen’s eggs. If the bird is spending too much time in the sun without adequate shade or enough cold water, this can actually bleach her eggs. If you begin noticing a degradation in the color, you may want to check on these two factors.

If the eggs are bleached more than usual but you ruled out the two options above, then it’s time to check for mites and parasites because this is the next most possible option.

 

 

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