Are you one of those people who believe you can determine eggshell color based on chicken earlobes?
You’ll be surprised to know it’s just a myth!
Well…sort of. There is still a little bit of truth to it.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the actual truth behind the chicken ear and egg color—and what factors actually affect the quality of the egg.
But Wait… Do Chickens Have Ears?
First things first. Do chickens have ears? Where are they located, then?
Yes, chickens have ears, and they are hidden in the feathers on the sides of their heads!
You might have noticed small holes on either side of a chicken’s head, but those aren’t their ears. They are actually nostrils, which chickens use for breathing.
A chicken’s ear opening, however, is located behind these nostrils, covered by feathers.
They’re quite small, only about 2-3 mm in diameter, and don’t have visible ear flaps like we do, which makes their ears quite discreet.
So how do chickens hear without any external ears?
Like humans, chickens have an eardrum, an ear canal, and a cochlea.
Chickens can detect frequencies between 2,000 Hz and 4,000 Hz, which enables them to hear sounds we cannot.
This means they better sense of hearing than humans, and their hearing is most effective when the sound comes from the front.
Chicken ears are also sensitive to changes in air pressure, and they use this to detect changes in weather.
For instance, chickens can hear thunderstorms before they appear and might start seeking shelter before the rain comes.
This incredible ability is all thanks to their ears, which play an important role in keeping them safe.
And if you wonder if chickens can hear you when you talk to them, the answer is yes!
They might not understand your words, sure, but they can recognize your voice and tone.
It’s been shown that hens are more relaxed and lay more eggs when they’re spoken to softly and gently.
So now that we got that out of the way, the ultimate question is… can you determine eggshell color based on chicken earlobes?
Does Chicken Earlobes Color Determine Eggshell Color?
Many people believe that chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, while those with red earlobes lay brown eggs.
But is that really the case?
While a chicken’s earlobe color can be related to egg color, it’s not necessarily an “if then” kind of situation.
Sure, breeds that have white earlobes often lay white eggs (the Leghorn being an example.)
But then there are breeds like Penedesencas where this is not the case. These birds have white earlobes yet lay chocolate-colored eggs.
And same goes for those with red earlobes. They tend to lay brown eggs, but we know that red-eared Easter Eggers lay green or blue eggs.
Silkie chickens are also an exception to this rule. Despite their blue earlobes, Silkie hens lay light brown or nearly white eggs.
That said, it’s clear that earlobe color isn’t always an accurate predictor of egg color.
Why Are Earlobe and Egg Color Related?
But why is earlobe color related to egg color? It all comes down to the genetics of the chicken.
A gene called Oocyan controls the production of blue and green eggshells.
Chickens with this gene have blue earlobes, indicating their ability to lay blue or green eggs, while chickens without have white earlobes and lay white eggs.
Brown eggs, however, is a bit more complicated because they’re associated with multiple genes and are linked to a chicken’s red earlobes.
But again, there are always exceptions to this rule, like the Easter Egger (red earlobe, blue or green eggs) or the Ameraucana (red earlobe, blue eggs.)
Scientists have also been studying this phenomenon to trace a more in-depth analysis of the association between genes, earlobes, and egg color.
Interestingly, though, the pigments that determine the egg’s colors are also present in chicken’s skin, legs, and earlobes.
But this is entirely genetic and has no effect on the nutritional value of eggs.
Apart from genetics, there are also a lot of factors that influence egg color, like the hen’s age and the season they’re laying.
We will discuss more of these external factors a little later.
But the bottom line is: while chicken earlobe color is often related to egg color, it’s not a guarantee.
The only way to know for sure what color eggs a chicken will lay is to wait until they start laying and see for yourself.
What is the Most Common Egg Color?
Egg colors can range from white to brown, blue to green, and even shades of pink and yellow.
But the most common egg color is white.
In fact, approximately 90% of all eggs sold in the United States are white.
The white color comes from the bloom, a protective layer over the eggshell that prevents bacteria from entering.
Hens that lay white eggs typically weigh less and are more efficient in feed conversion than those that lay colored eggs.
Brown eggs are also quite common, making up about 10% of all eggs sold in the United States.
The brown color comes from a pigment called protoporphyrin that is found in the hen’s bile duct and is deposited on the eggshell during formation.
Some breeders may prefer brown eggs for their larger size or because they believe they are healthier, but in reality, the nutritional value of brown and white eggs is virtually the same.
However, the color of the yolk can be influenced by the chicken’s diet.
For example, a pasture-raised chicken will tend to lay eggs that have deeper yellow or orange yolks.
Blue and green eggs, on the other hand, are less common, that’s why you won’t likely see these eggs being sold in the market.
But these eggs sure are a great conversation starter and could add visual interest to your breakfast dishes.
And despite what some people think, an eggshell color has no effect on the taste, nutritional value, or quality of the egg.
The quality and taste of an egg is determined and affected by its freshness and the hen’s diet.
Why Are Chickens With Pea Combs More Likely to Lay Blue Eggs?
Now we’ve established that chicken earlobes aren’t accurate determiner of eggshell color.
But is it true that chickens with pea combs are more likely to lay blue eggs?
The answer here lies on chicken genes as well. And fair warning, this is gonna be a bit technical.
The pea comb gene, which controls the comb shape on a chicken’s head, is located very close to the gene that produces blue eggs.
As a result, when these genes are passed down to a chicken, they tend to stick together.
When a chicken inherits the dominant pea comb gene, it also has a higher chance of inheriting the blue egg gene because they are both dominant characteristics.
So, yes, chickens with pea combs are more likely to lay blue eggs.
However, it’s important to note that the pea comb gene and the blue egg gene are two different genes, so they don’t always come together.
If you want to breed chickens for white eggs or single comb crosses, it can take more time because it involves mating pure breeds.
However, this doesn’t mean that these traits are impossible to achieve – it just requires a more selective breeding process.
Some chicken breeds are more likely to have pea combs and lay blue eggs than others.
For example, the Ameraucana breed is known for producing chickens with both traits.
Other breeds that may have pea combs and lay blue eggs include the Araucana breed and certain strains of the Leghorn breed.
On the other hand, not all chickens with pea combs lay blue eggs. Some may lay brown or green eggs depending on the other genes they inherit.
External Factors That Influence Egg Color
As we mentioned above, there are external factors that can play a significant role in determining the color of an egg.
Medical conditions can have a direct or indirect effect on the formation and colorization of an eggshell.
Certain illnesses, such as Osteoporosis, Egg Drop Syndrome, Infectious Bronchitis, and Ochratoxicosis, can disrupt eggshell mineralization and color.
In addition, medical conditions like an oviduct inflammation, or a defective shell gland, will have a direct impact on the formation and quality of the eggshell.
It’s crucial to ensure your chickens are healthy to ensure you get high-quality eggs.
Food and Nutrition
Food can also play a role in the egg-laying process and ultimately determine the color of an eggshell.
Deficiencies in essential nutrients like vitamin D can result in an eggshell color that is different from what is typical for that breed.
There are also medications like Nicarbazin that can impact the color of the yolks and eggshells.
While it’s important to provide a balanced diet, you should also be cautious when administering medication or supplements to your chickens.
As chickens age, their egg size typically increases, which can impact eggshell color.
Typically, larger eggs require less pigment, resulting in a lighter eggshell color of aged hens.
Sunlight/ Seasonal Changes
Sunlight also plays a crucial role in determining eggshell color, as it provides chickens with the necessary vitamin D3 for proper eggshell formation.
To ensure optimal eggshell quality, laying hens should receive between 14 and 18 hours of natural light per day.
Stress can be a common factor that disrupts the egg-laying process and causes abnormalities in eggshells.
It may result in an early egg-laying process, which may not allow for the formation of a thick shell with unusual pigmentation.
Alternatively, stress could cause a delay in egg-laying, resulting in abnormal eggs with grit on the shell, for example.
Selective breeding has resulted in chickens that are high-performing egg-layers, which can present an added challenge in the efforts to maintain eggshell quality and color.
While these birds are better egg-layers, they are susceptible to external factors, including nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, and stress.
No, Chicken Earlobes and Eggshell Colors Aren’t Exclusive!
Sure, you may sometimes determine eggshell color based on chicken earlobes.
But that’s not always the case!
Eggshell color is more proven to be influenced by several external factors, including medical conditions, nutrition, age, light, and stress.
The more you know, right?
Interested to learn more about chicken and their egg-laying process?
Check out our recommended reads below!