You can judge a chicken by its (egg) shell
Eggs. Arguably the best part of owning backyard chickens (well, maybe not the best part— chickens are pretty cool little pets even after they stop laying). Now, everyone has seen white and brown eggs; but, did you know there are breeds of chicken who lay green, pink, dark brown, even blue eggs? It’s true!
It’s always exciting to peek into the nest box and see what treasures your little hens have left for you; but picking out chickens that lay colored eggs can guarantee you have a rainbow hiding in the nest box.
Let’s chat really quickly about the anatomy of the egg and how they get their color to begin with. As your hen forms an egg, porphyrins (the color pigments) are created and excreted from cells within the hen’s uterus to add their specific color.
Even more interestingly, shells can have different outer and inner colors. For example: Brown eggshells will be white on the inside, green eggshells will have a blue lining, and white shells have no pigments at all.
Once a hen lays a certain color, that will be the color she lays throughout her entire career. They may have different shades (some days will be darker, some days lighter. Depending on the amount of pigment that happens to be excreted) but they never change colors completely.
Keep in mind that colored eggs taste the same as “plain jane” white eggs and their nutritional value is not any different. The yolk and albumen (the white part) will be the same, as well. It’s just a regular egg that just comes in an appealing package!
So, which breeds lay the lovely eggs?
There are several specific breeds that lay colored eggs. However, keep in mind that even if you introduce a colored egg layer into your flock, there is no guarantee (with some breed exceptions) that they will actually lay colored eggs. It’s just that these breeds have the ability to lay colored eggs.
Hare some to look for:
Blue: Araucana, Ameraucana, Easter Egger, Arkansas Blue
Green: Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, Isbars, Favaucanas
Pink: Easter Egger
Dark brown: Barnvelder, Welsummer, Marans
Can you tell what color egg the hen will lay? Not really, but you may be able to make some assumptions if you look closely at the hen’s ears! Yup, earlobe color can play a part in determining egg color.
But then you can run into a snag with this logic because some chickens have blue earlobes but lay white eggs and others have red earlobes but can lay blue or green eggs. So, take this wives tale with a grain of salt!
Raise a rainbow!
There may not be a guarantee that your colored egg laying hen will lay anything other than brown or white…but it’s a fun gamble anyway! Colored eggs are a nice change of pace from your run of the mill hues and make great conversation starters when you gift your neighbor with a carton of farm fresh rainbow eggs!