Why do chickens lay different colored eggs? Learn the simple reason for different colors in the egg basket.
One of the things that I often see with people who are accustomed to grocery store eggs, is a look of shock. Shock when they open my egg carton to discover a variety of colors.
Most people who buy their eggs at a typical grocery have no idea that eggs come in colors besides white or tan. But chicken eggs can be white, cream, deep espresso, blue, freckled, or even green!
What Determines Egg Color?
Very simple: Genetics. Primarily the breed of a chicken determines what color the eggs will be. Now there may be some slight variation, but the eggs will generally all be of the same color family if they come from a particular breed.
Does Color Make a Difference?
The second question I am most often asked about the egg color, is, “Do they taste differently?”
Egg color makes no difference in the taste of the eggs, though I do have a few customers that swear the blue ones taste the best. The number one factor for egg flavor, is how the chicken lives.
Do the chickens had a healthy diet and natural environment? The healthier the chicken, the better the eggs. Pretty much every egg customer I have ever had, says that once they taste our eggs, that they can’t go back to eggs from the store.
The color doesn’t make a difference for the flavor, but it sure is fun to have them!
Checkout this rainbow basket from Fat Hen Farms
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If you would like to have a beautiful basket of eggs like the one above, here is a list of egg colors and what color they lay:
Egg Colors by Breed
White eggs are one of the most common egg colors, most frequently seen in typical grocery stores. Some of the breeds that lay white eggs are:
- Ayam Cemani
- California Whites
- Egyptian Fayoumis
A note about the Ayam Cemani chickens: These chickens are solid black. Their feathers, combs, tongues, skin, even their organs and meat are black! However there is a tale that their eggs are also black. This is not true. Their eggs are white to cream. The first time I heard of these, I was amazed at the idea of black chicken eggs. I followed a link for an advertisement showing black eggs….only to discover that the “hatching eggs” were white! I wonder how many people were fooled into thinking that the Ayam Cemani somehow would lay black eggs, when they hatched from white ones. Don’t be deceived.
Brown eggs are the second color of egg most often seen in the grocery store. Some of the breeds that lay brown/tan eggs are:
- Black Australorps
- Cuckoo Marans
- Rocks (Like Plymouth Barred Rocks)
- Rhode Island Reds
Dark Brown Eggs
While brown eggs are very common, there are some out there that are especially dark. The espresso of chicken eggs.
- French Black Copper Marans – these are the ultimate in dark brown eggs
Some of the breeds that lay cream colored eggs are:
- Light Brahmas
- Salmon Favorolles
- Swedish Flower
Some of the breeds that lay blue eggs are:
- Cream Legbars
- Whiting True Blues
- “Easter Eggers” – While an “Easter Egger” is not a true breed, it is a hybrid/cross of other breeds that produces blue or blue-green eggs.
Often green egg laying chickens are called “Olive Eggers.” These olive eggers are often produced by crossing a blue egg layer with a brown egg layer.
That said, there is one breed that I know of that actually lays green eggs. We have some of these and they lay the prettiest sage green eggs.
- Whiting True Greens
In the photo below, the sage green egg in the center came from one of our Whiting True Greens.
The lists above are not all-inclusive, but are a good place to start when starting your selections for chicken breeds by egg color. In addition to the colors above, some chickens will lay varying shades. The egg color from one chicken can vary in intensity depending upon the time of year. A brown egg laying chicken will often lay white eggs when they are getting over or going through a molt.
Cross bred chickens can also lay very interesting colors as well. You can find dark olive eggs, pink eggs, even green eggs with brown spots! The variations are endless. Genetics is a cool thing.