If you really want to protect the eggs that your chicken lay, you may think that metal chicken nesting boxes are a great way to do this. While this is true and certainly all chickens and eggs are important, some of these birds have, at one point in time, apparently gotten bored with laying simple white eggs and are now laying blue eggs.
Regardless of whether you are a farmer who grows chickens or just a simple person who likes to be informed about many things, colored eggs have become quite the fashion to have in your egg carton. Let’s take a look at what exactly are these blue eggs and what chickens lay them.
How Do Blue Eggs Happen?
The truth is chickens that lay blue eggs are few and far between so if this is the first time in your life hearing about this don’t be embarrassed. This is because the process of getting a blue egg is much more complex than simply getting regular white or brown ones. Nevertheless, it is a genetic trait that has become very popular these days.
It seems that rainbow-style variations have become something people like to see even when opening the egg cartons they bought from the supermarket. Little do they know that the process which makes these eggs blue actually begins in the reproductive tract of the chicken.
All eggs are white in the beginning. Some of them will stay like this or get a cream-like color up to the laying point because they are missing a pigment overlay which would turn them into colored eggs.
For example, brown eggs start to become brown when located in the uterus. By applying a dye called “protoporphyrin” onto the eggshell, the white color goes away. This is not an artificially-made dye, mind you, but one that is made from the blood’s hemoglobin.
Since the hen is a very responsible mom, it only makes a certain amount of dye for each egg so this is the reason why larger ones may appear paler than a regular sized egg.
Blue eggs, however, are different even from brown ones. A substance called “oocyanin”, which is basically a liver pigment starts to get laid directly into the base of the eggshell at the beginning of the process. Therefore, the blue color becomes part of the egg and cannot be simply rubbed off as it can happen with the brown ones.
White and blue are thus the only “true” colors of an egg because brown, olive and even green can all be removed by rubbing since the pigments are laid over the shell, not inside it. A recent piece of information suggests that this special coloring was caused by a retrovirus which altered the chicken DNA a long time ago.
Which Breeds Lay Blue Eggs?
There aren’t many types of chicken in the world that can give you a blue egg so let’s take a look at the ones that are known at this time.
The first breed of this special category of chickens is the Araucana. Its name might give out the origin and you would be right to think that it comes from South America, Chile to be more specific.
Araucana’s history supports the retrovirus theory since the breed is a combination of the first chicken inhabitants of the American continent. The two original ones were called “Colloncas” and “Quetros” and while the first one laid blue eggs the second one produced brown ones. In the 19th century, a doctor called Ruben Bustos bred them and created the Araucana.
This is actually quite a rare breed since it also has a lethal tufting gene, which can cause more than a quarter of the chicks to die in the shell if both parents have it. Because of this, they will usually only be able to be purchased from a vendor since they really aren’t your regular backyard chickens.
This breed is a twentieth-century discovery and we use this word because two professors at Cambridge University created it while trying to obtain an auto-sexing chicken. The Cream Legbar is a mix of Leghorn, Barred Plymouth Rock and, of course, the Araucana as it is reflected from the color of the eggs.
It’s still a pretty rare breed but it is becoming increasingly popular because they are friendly birds that are great foragers, know how to run from a predator and are quite muscular and firm for a chicken.
The hen weighs about five and a half pounds and its male counterpart brings about six and a half pounds to the table. The hens will lay around 200 eggs a year, roughly the same as the Araucana. The difference, as we said, is that this breed is much friendlier and more sociable than the South-American one.
This is not, in fact, a recognized breed but more of a hybrid chicken. It is believed that somewhere in its ancestry it has Araucana or Ameraucana blood so that’s where the blue eggs come from. However, not all Easter Eggers lay blue eggs, since they may lay anything from pale pink to brown, olive, green and blue.
This is an excellent family bird since it is friendly, docile and the hen’s mother instinct makes it ideal for hatching any eggs you put under them. They are also good foragers and react very well to small children.
Dongxiang and Lushi
As you can probably tell, these two types of chicken come from China. The Lushi breed appears to lay either pink or blue eggs and they have very small bodies, the hen weighing less than three pounds and the male not even four pounds.
The Dongxiang chicken, on the other hand, presents not one but two interesting characteristics. Besides laying blue eggs, it is a fibromelanistic bird. In plain English, its muscles, skin, and organs are all pitch black.
As you’ve seen, these breeds are all creations of scientists that wanted to improve on the natural chicken genetics. The Arkansas Blue is apparently a cross between an Araucana and a white Leghorn while being an amazing layer which can give you upwards of 300 eggs per year.
It would appear the Araucana blood is strong in this one, as it is not very friendly to people nor very social. If you’re thinking volume though, this breed can lay the most blue eggs per year.
Whiting True Blue
The doctor who created this breed was thinking about getting blue eggs and superb hackle feathers. He was successful, as hackle feathers on superior birds are used for fly tying and have great quality.
The Whiting True Blue is a fast growing chicken, a good flyer, and very active and alert. It’s also a very friendly and curious breed, which is why it is sold for up to $24 per bird. A farmer can expect upwards of 200 eggs per year from them.
After the creation of the Araucana, other breeders had their own perfect vision of what this bird should be like. Therefore, some of them engaged in cross-breeding activities trying to get the best of everything.
At the time, many people claimed to have an American Araucana – or Ameraucana – since everybody bred for different things so the birds looked very different. The true Ameraucana weighs in at around five and a half pounds for both sexes and it’s a friendly, docile bird.
It’s also quite rare and many other birds are sold by hatcheries under their name. A true representative of this breed will cost around $18, so be careful when you’re offered two birds for $2 each.