Blue. Green. Brown. Cream. White. Pink. There are so many beautiful chicken egg colors beyond the standard white and brown ones found in many grocery stores. Find out what determines eggshell color with Pam Freeman, author of the new book, Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics.
Want to get hens? Chicken expert Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily shares 7 Things to Consider Before Getting Hens.
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Images in this post are provided with permission from Quarto Book Publishing USA who also provided a review copy of Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics by Pam Freeman.
Hen Keeping 2.0
As the title suggests, Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics is hen keeping 2.0, going beyond the basics.
Topics covered include
- Expanding your flock
- Understanding chicken behaviour
- Keeping a rooster
- Adjusting for the seasons
- Staying healthy
What Determines the Color of Chicken Eggshells?
Genetics. Different breeds produce different egg colors, and the colors can vary within the breed, with some darker or lighter than others. There are hundreds of breeds of chickens.
Initially, when an egg forms within a hen, all eggshells are white. As the developing egg travels through the hen’s oviduct, pigment color unique to the breed may be deposited on the shell.
Egg production takes approximately 26 hours. After 20 hours, the shell is fully formed.
Some eggs are speckled because they stop and start moving through the oviduct, getting a sprinkling of pigment. Others may be streaked, if they move rapidly.
For some breeds like the Ameraucana, blue pigment is added early in the process, penetrating the entire eggshell, inside and out. In some breeds, pigment is added later in the process, and, without time to be full absorbed, it tints just the outer surface, leaving the inner shell white. You may have notice this with some brown eggs from the grocery store (brown on the outside, inner shell is white).
Green eggshells produced by the Olive Egger breed (I love that name) are actually white eggs with blue pigment, then tinted with brown pigment. Because the brown pigment comes later, the shells are still blue inside. Pretty!
An Easter Egger is a mixed breed. Each individual Easter Egger hen will have its own color of egg, but collectively one flock could provide a range of tints with cream, pink, and green hues.
For years we were told that brown eggs are a healthier food choice than white eggs. These is no science behind this. It’s the health of the hen and her food sources that really matter.
The list (below) shares some common breeds of chickens and the egg colors they produce. While egg color should not be a primary reason for selecting a breed, you can see how it would be tempting to have hens providing a range of colors.
An egg collecting basket full of different colored eggs is achievable by picking the right breeds. There are lots of breeds to choose; many that are perfect for backyard chicken keeping and especially for families with kids. Below is a list of commonly found chicken breeds organized by egg color.
• Ameraucana (blue/green)
• Araucana (blue)
• Cream Legbar (blue)
|• Easter Egger (green/blue)
• Olive Egger (dark olive to light teal)
• Faverolle (light brown)
• Jersey Giant
• Naked Neck Turkens
|• Marans (dark brown)
• New Hampshire
• Penedesenca (dark brown)
• Plymouth Rock
• Rhode Island Red
• Sussex (cream/light brown)
• Fayoumi (tinted)
• Sicilian Buttercup
I adore hens. We do not live a lifestyle that suits hen keeping, but I love it when neighbours keep them. They are delightful and entertaining pets.
Here’s some more hen info
- Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily: 7 Things to Consider Before Getting Hens, in case you are starting to research chicken adoption.
- A Local Chicken Coop Tour: get ideas for housing your girls.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛