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What Color Eggs do Chickens Lay?

Colorful eggs and the chickens who lay them

Painting and coloring white hard-boiled eggs is a springtime tradition that symbolizes new life, fertility, and rebirth. Once the eggs are decorated, they're hidden for children to find during an egg hunt. What if you want to enjoy naturally colored eggs year-round? Raising certain chicken breeds can help you do just that. Today, we’re going to discuss what color eggs do chickens lay and the associated breeds.

What Determines the Color?

Genetics!

Gene structure

According to Michigan State University Extension, the hen’s breed indicates what color eggs she produces. That’s how we determine what color eggs chickens lay. An interesting tip is to look at the chicken's ear lobes; typically, those with white earlobes produce white eggs. The exception to this is hybrid chickens or those from mixed parent stock, as well as Silkies. Silkies have blue earlobes but sadly lay white eggs.

Hen with white earlobe

Hen with White Earlobe

Hen with red earlobe that lays colorful eggs

Hen with Red Earlobe

Egg color genetics don’t come from one parent. Genes from both parents influence shell color.

Within a breed, egg color is predominantly the same. Again, the egg-ception is in hybrid species. Individual hens in a hybrid breed flock can lay different colored eggs based upon their heritage.

When the Egg Comes First, What Color is It?

All eggs actually start out as white eggs. The internal dyeing process is what causes eggs to change colors. Are you visualizing a cup filled with food coloring inside the hen?

Picture of coloring eggs

Hens don’t dye their eggs the same as hoomans. Forming an eggshell inside the hen takes 20 hours. Eggshell pigmentation takes 5-6 additional hours and occurs as the eggs through the hen’s oviduct. The pigment that causes the eggs to turn blue, brown, green, or a variety of shades in between is only deposited on the eggshell's surface. This is why when you crack the egg, for the most part, they all look the same.

Chicken anatomy poster

If you want to learn more about chicken anatomy, we've got a blog that tells you everything you need to know.

How Many Egg Colors Can One Chicken Produce?

No. Each chicken only lays one color of an egg during its lifetime.

We're all ears graphic

Are They More Nutritious or do They Taste Better?

If you're a chocolate fan like me, one would hope that an egg in a chocolate brown shade tastes like chocolate. Unfortunately, that's not the case. All eggs taste the same. Feel free to try that logic to convince someone to eat eggs who isn't a fan 😆.

Also, all eggs have the same nutritional content.

Egg nutritional conent

What Breeds Lay Colored Eggs?

Most of the best egg-laying chicken breeds don’t lay colored eggs. In fact, the top layer breeds, such as the White Leghorn, lay plain old white eggs. However, here’s a chart showing what color eggs chickens lay. Additionally, we selected six common chicken breeds that lay colored eggs. Finally, these breeds are tolerant of a variety of climates and easy to find. We didn’t want to send you down a rabbit hole in search of a rare chicken breed.

Egg color chart

This is one of the few times you’ll hear someone recommend putting all your eggs in one basket. If your girls produce colored eggs, we’d love to see the results. Additionally, if our article convinced you to adopt hens that lay colored eggs, we want to see them too! Please comment on our socials or email your thoughts to hoomans@smallpetselect.com.

Basket of colored eggs

DISCLAIMER: These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.


Interested in learning more about chickens? Check out these articles!

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