Easter is coming up next month, and I have childhood memories of sitting down with my grandmother every year and painting eggs. So, you can imagine my surprise several years ago when I first heard that chicken eggs can come in different colors (think of all the paint this could have saved me!). I was curious to learn more, so I did some research. So, can chickens really lay different colored eggs?
Chickens do lay different colored eggs. It has been proven in nature that, typically, chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and those with red earlobes lay brown eggs. Interestingly, there are also ‘Easter Eggers’ chickens capable of laying eggs in other colors like pink, blue, green, and yellow.
Are you curious yet? You should be! Eggs that still taste the way we expect but look colorful are exciting (who else tried making green eggs and ham?). We’ll take a look at how chickens can lay these colorful eggs and explore whether the same breed of chicken can lay different colors of eggs. Let’s get into it.
Why Do Chickens Lay Different Colored Eggs?
Each breed of chicken lays different colored eggs due to their unique genes. Different types of pigmentation are added to an egg at various stages of the egg-forming process. This timing is largely what influences egg color. Colored eggs have better camouflage from predators than white eggs, and they absorb more heat.
Hens that lay brown eggs have the pigment protoporphyrin included in their genetics, and this provides the brown color to the outer shell. This only happens at the final hour of the egg-forming process, where a protective layer is added to the outer shell.
The fact that the final layer is added this late is why the eggshell is white on the inside and brown on the outside. Hens laying white eggs do not have any pigmentation included in their genetics. Because of this, they lay white eggs.
Another example is hens who lay blue eggs as they have the pigment pyocyanin in their genetics to make the blue color. The difference is that the pigmentation is added at the beginning of the shell-forming process. As a result, the shell is blue both inside and outside.
The different colors of some eggs work as a protection against predators. White eggs are much easier to spot and can be quickly taken by creatures like snakes or other egg-eaters.
Another benefit of colored eggs is that the different colors will absorb heat from the environment better than the regular white eggs. Studies have found that hens in colder regions will lay brown eggs more often, while hens in warmer areas mostly lay white eggs.
Because of the different pigments added at various stages of the shell-forming process, you will always notice the following with your colored eggs:
- The shell of white eggs will be white all the way through the shell
- In the case of a brown eggshell, the shell will be brown on the outside and white on the inside
- When it comes to blue eggshells, the shell will be blue all the way through to the inside
- Because of the brown and blue pigments that are added in green eggshells, these will be green on the outside and blue on the inside
Which Chicken Breeds Lay Colored Eggs?
|Color of Egg||Breed of Chicken|
|Blue Eggs||Araucana, Ameraucana, Cream Legbar, and Easter Egger|
|Green Eggs||Olive Eggers, Ice Cream Bars, and Favaucana|
|Pink and Cream||Light Sussex, Aseel breed, Dorking, and Yokohama|
|Brown and Dark Brown||Barnavelders, Penendeseca, Marans, Barred Rock, and Welsummer|
|White||Silkie, and Leghorn breeds|
|Purple Eggs||No breeds, this is caused by the bloom.|
Contrary to what we usually see in the store, chickens can lay a wide variety of colored eggs, not just the standard brown and white eggs.
Chickens can lay eggs in all of the following colors. This list also included which breeds lay which color of eggs:
- Blue Eggs: There are mainly four chicken breeds that lay blue colored eggs, and are: Araucana, Ameraucana, Cream Legbar, as well as the Easter Egger
- Green Eggs: To have a green egg that is not rotten, you can make use of the following breeds: Olive Eggers, Ice Cream Bars, and the Favaucana
- Pink and Cream Colored Eggs: The Light Sussex, Aseel breed, the Dorking, and the Yokohama are the chicken breeds that lay these colors of eggs
- Brown and Dark Brown Eggs: Barnavelders, Penendeseca, Marans, Barred Rock, and the Welsummer are the breeds that provide large brown colored eggs
- White Eggs: The standard Silkie, as well as the Leghorn breeds, are the chickens that lay the white eggs
- Purple Eggs: A specific species of chicken don’t lay purple-colored eggs, but rather the bloom (a protective layer on the egg that prevents bacteria) formed around the shell will sometimes cause this color. Once the egg is washed, the bloom will come off and the egg will be brown.
Can One Chicken Lay Different Colored Eggs?
There might be some rare exceptions (such as purple eggs with bloom), but the same breed of chickens will lay the same color of eggs. This rule of nature also applies to the individual chickens—sadly one chicken can’t lay different colored eggs every other day.
Generally, you can look at a chicken’s earlobes to predict what color eggs it’ll lay. Sometimes a chicken may deviate from this rule and lay eggs in a different color than its earlobes suggest, but that is rare. Usually, their eggs will be the same color as its earlobes.
The simple answer here is that the same chicken can not lay different colored eggs. For example, one chicken can’t lay white eggs as well as brown eggs. It also isn’t possible to always determine the color of the egg the chicken will lay by looking at the earlobes.
Because of mixed parent stock and hybrid chickens, it is not always wise to use the earlobe method. The Silkie is a good example of a breed whose egg color can’t be predicted with this trick—it has blue earlobes, but doesn’t lay blue eggs!
Can One Easter Egger Chicken Lay Different Colored Eggs?
Easter Eggers can lay different colored eggs, but every individual chicken can only lay one color egg. So if you have an Olive Egger that lays olive-colored eggs, that hen will only lay this color egg for the rest of her life.
Because of this, it isn’t possible to have an Easter Egger that will lay a different color egg every day to provide you with rainbow colors (as fun as this would be!). The only way you can have many batches of different colored eggs is by getting different chickens that each lay a different color egg, which isn’t a bad solution.
The great thing about these different colored eggs is that on the inside, they are all the same: they have the expected egg white and yellow egg yolk. There’s no difference in the taste, even though some may claim that different colored eggs taste different.
The main reason why an egg may taste different and have lighter egg yolk is because of the chicken’s diet. Differences in taste and yolk color depend solely on the way the chicken was raised and any variation from a traditional diet.
Another interesting fact is that the more calcium the chicken has in its diet, the stronger the shells of their eggs will be. This is because calcium is a primary nutrient in the process of the shell’s development.
Tips To Improve Egg Production With Hens
There are a few ways you can improve your chickens’ overall egg production so that they lay more eggs. You can get up to a single extra egg per day in the best of the best breeds of egg-laying hens.
Some hens will take off a day or two per week, but you’ll normally not get more than an extra egg a day.
Here are some tips to improve the performance of your egg-laying chickens:
- Choose a breed that is specifically bred for egg production, do not use hybrid breeds
- Place a golf ball or ceramic egg in the nest to encourage the hen to lay in the nest
- Uninterrupted access to fresh water will keep your hens producing
- Do not make your hens overweight—the abdomen fat may obstruct egg production
- Keep only young hens in your egg flock. Older hens lay fewer eggs and can interrupt the egg-laying of younger hens.
- Provide hens with shade in hot weather as this can affect egg production.