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Colored Eggs: Why, How, and Who?

chickens that lay colorful eggs

Looking for a way to wow your egg customers?  Consider adding a couple of pink, blue, green, or dark chocolate-colored eggs to your dozen, and sit back and wait for the comments!

Beautiful colors, (although of course, tasting the same as any other egg) have a way of drawing ohhhhs, ahhhhs, and possibly more customers to your client list.

So, yes, increased demand for colored eggs would be the ‘why.’ Before we go into who lays them, let’s talk about how they come to be.

Colored Eggs

How Do Chickens Lay Colored Eggs?

It takes 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg. Twenty of those hours are required to form the shell. Because shells are primarily calcium, at the beginning of egg formation, ALL eggshells start as white.

As the shell forms inside the hen, pigments called porphyrins are secreted from cells within the hen’s uterus to add color to the shell.

Blue egg layers add pigment early in the shell formation process, which is why these shells are blue all the way through.

For an ‘olive egger”, a combination of blue and brown pigments produces an outer green shell but a blue inside shell color.

Brown egg pigment is added later in the egg formation process, hence the outer brown and inner white eggshell. Lastly, hens that lay white eggs do not produce any pigments during shell formation.

Therefore; because different pigments are added to a hen’s eggs at other times:

  • White eggs will be white all the way through
  • Brown eggshells will be white on the inside
  • Blue eggshells are blue all the way through
  • Green eggshells will be blue on the inside and green on the outside

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover….or An Egg By Its Color 

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people say they prefer brown eggs because they taste better.

I don’t argue, but I could. You see, aside from the fact that their shells are different colors, all eggs are virtually the same.

Differences in taste and yolk color and slight differences in nutrition are more a function of a hen’s diet and how you raised it, not the color of the shell.

This said, colored eggs are pleasing to the eye, a work of art often brought to you by your local backyard flock.

A dozen multi-colored eggs will sell faster than a dozen white ones in the vast amount of cases.

What Chicken Breeds Lay Colored Eggs?

Now, the ‘who.’ If you’re looking to get some variation in your egg carton, here are a few breeds you might consider looking into:

Chickens That Lay Blue Eggs

My experience with varied colored eggs tells me that blue eggs are usually the biggest crowd-pleaser.

The most common breeds to lay blues would be the Araucana, Ameraucana, Cream Legbar, and, to some extent, the Easter-Eggers, which are not so much a single breed as a description of hybrid.

Here’s a bit of information about each, in case you’re looking to add this color to your egg carton palette.

Araucana Colored Eggs:

The Araucana is native to South America, as it was first documented in Chile in 1914 by a Chilean.

As far as temperament goes, this breed is friendly, non-aggressive, and does well around animals and even children. Araucana is cold-hardy and is excellent foragers, which may naturally reduce feed costs.

They lay between 200-250 medium-size bluish or blue, green eggs per year, but buying chicks may prove somewhat tricky due to a genetic defect that is known to cause spontaneous deaths of a certain percentage of the Araucana chicks before hatching.

Colored Eggs of the Ameraucana:

A derivative of the Araucana, American scientists bred the Ameraucana to preserve the distinctive light blue colored eggs of Araucana, yet eliminate a gene common to that breed that could sometimes cause chicks to die inside the egg.

It is noted that these chickens are curious, friendly, and easy to control. They enjoy calm and quiet environments because they get frightened easily, which would make a great backyard breed.

Their beautiful light blue colored eggs are medium to large and approximately 150 per year.

Creme Legbar Colored Eggs:

Another breed famous for its unusually (sky) blue-colored eggs is the Creme Legbar.

These chickens are a British chicken breed almost a hundred years old, but it is still relatively rare in the United States.

It’s only been in the country for a few years, so backyard chicken owners are still discovering all of the perks that this breed offers.

Cream Legbars are friendly, easily handled, have good layers, and are excellent foragers.

Another unusual and valuable trait, chickens of this breed are vigilant and wary of predators.

Creme Legbars can take care of themselves in a free-range setting than many other backyard breeds.

Colored Eggs of the Easter Egger:

Nestled in-between blue egg layers and green egg layers is a good place to mention Easter Eggers.

Easter Eggers are not a true breed, but a variety of chicken that does not conform to anyone’s breed standard that lays eggs that vary from blue to green to olive to aqua and sometimes even pinkish.

The genetics involved in determining exactly which color an Easter Egger will lay is a little complex.

It suffices to say these chickens possess the gene that allows them to produce blue-colored eggs.

Depending upon the egg pigment variation of the breed they crossed with their mom, the resulting egg color your hen produces will result from this.

Half the fun of owning an Easter-Egger is not knowing what color egg your hen will lay!

Easter Eggers vary widely in color and conformation and are typically exceptionally friendly and hardy.

Since they are usually quite friendly to children and humans in general, they are an excellent choice for a family flock.

Chickens That Lay Green Eggs

Although what follows in this category may seem to be a Dr. Seuss favorite, the green eggs we refer to are more of an olive color.

As noted before, the green refers, of course, to the egg SHELL, not the yolk or white. Who lays these interesting olive-colored eggs? The appropriately named Olive Eggers, of course!
chicken egg colors

Olive Eggers Colored Eggs:

An Olive Egger is another mixed breed that, like the Easter Egger, originated from Ameraucanas or Araucanas.

To get an Olive Egger, you need to mix a green egg laying Easter Egger with a dark brown egg laying chicken, like a Marans or a Welsummer. According to our above description of Easter Egger, an Olive Egger is a type of Easter Egger.

These hens are good layers of about 180-200 colorful and large-sized eggs per year.

Because of the genetic diversity in Olive Eggers, there tend to be a lot of individualized personalities.

But in general, Olive Eggers are generally very docile and friendly chickens that tend to do well with other chickens.

If Welsummers are in the mix, your Olive Eggers will likely be especially intelligent chickens.

Olive Eggers do have a high chance of being pretty broody chickens, good if you’re raising chicks yourself…not so good if you’re counting on a steady stream of eggs.

Olive Egger roosters are calm and docile but also make suitable flock protectors.

Olive Eggers are healthy and vigorous birds that aren’t especially susceptible to many health issues. This is somewhat typical of hybrid animals of any species.

Chickens That Lay Pink Eggs:

If you happen to check out a chat website for backyard chicken keepers, you might search “pink eggs” and come up with many posts by people declaring their hens are laying pink eggs.

A quick read-through, and you will also see at least 25 different claims by 25 other breeds/varieties of chickens for pink egg-laying.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to individual variation within breeds. Commonly, species such as Light Sussex, Barred Rock, Mottled Javas, Australorp, Buff Orpington, Silkie, and Faverolle that lay crème colored eggs might also have a genetic variation that tints them pink.

This also occurs with the Easter Egger chicken, as mentioned before.

There is no one breed you can pick to ensure a pink egg layer, but olive eggers, blue egg layers, or dark brown egg-laying species bred with a creamy colored egg layer may produce a chicken that lays something along the lines of pink.

Chickens That Lay Brown or Chocolate Eggs:

This sounds great, doesn’t it?!  A chicken that lays chocolate eggs is not what it sounds like.

If you think about it, eggs that are a rich dark brown color on the outside will probably be prevalent with folks that prefer brown eggs vs. white ones in their cartons.

Three breeds that tend to lay dark brown (chocolate colored) eggs are Welsummer, Marans, and Pendescena.
Fresh Eggs

Welsummer

The Welsummer was developed in the early 20th century. It originates from a small village in the eastern Netherlands called Welsum.

Not only does the Welsummer lay beautiful dark brown colored eggs, but these beauties are wonderfully large and may number up to 180 per year.

Like its eggs, the Welsummer is a large-sized bird – which means it needs more space and loves to roam around. Therefore it will require a large run or open area to free-range comfortably.

While Welsummers are not overly docile, they are both friendly and intelligent.

They are also quite active and one of the best free-range foraging breeds available.

Marans

Chicken keepers interested in breeds and breeding that results in various colors of eggs often have Marans in their midst.

Marans are a French breed first imported into the United Kingdom in the 1930s and the US shortly after.

They are a hardy breed, not many known health issues, and are used for both meat and eggs…a range of tan to very dark brown/chocolate-colored eggs.

Breeding a Marans with an Ameraucana will produce an ‘Olive Egger’. Breeding a Marans with an Olive Egger can produce dark olive or possibly dark green-blue egg.

Marans are very active birds that make great free-range foragers. They are also quite intelligent, friendly, and calm chickens. Even the roosters are quiet and not known to show aggression towards other roosters.

Penedesenca

The Penedesenca Breed was originated from the Catalonia region of Spain in the first half of the 20th century.

This breed of chicken was developed from local barnyard chickens, which produced particularly dark eggs.

It’s a rare breed and has only been around since the mid 20th century in the United States.  If you are looking for the darkest of dark eggs, this chicken is #1.

But if you’re looking for this chicken, you might have to look for quite a while and be very dedicated.

In addition to the breed’s rarity, the Penedesenca is hard to manage as a backyard chicken because they are highly active and highly anxious birds. They aren’t calm and also hate confinement so that they will need that space.

Final Thoughts About Colored Eggs

All in all, breeds that lay colored eggs, in my opinion, are worth looking into.

Except for the few mentioned, most colored egg layers are no more challenging to keep than standard breeds and yield variability in the egg carton that no grocery store will match!

Colored Chicken Eggs

4 thoughts on “Colored Eggs: Why, How, and Who?

  1. You are welcome to publish my email address. Any source for blue or pink eggs will be happily followed up, since I’m looking for the shells that arrive naturally, but have no ability or interest to raise chickens.
    Hobby Farms has been presented, but my local grocery stores do not carry their eggs (A&P, Stop&Shop, ShopRite, and several others), and I am looking for the colored eggs, not for hatchables.
    Any help in finding an online source would be appreciated.

    1. Hi William,
      There may be folks in your neighborhood who have a backyard flock that would be happy to sell their colored eggs. We live in Atlanta and have a flock of 15 chickens; we selected specific breeds to raise based on the color egg they lay (we should have blue, pink, light brown, and dark brown eggs).
      If you have a neighborhood network (such as Nextdoor, Facebook, or a Google or Yahoo group), just post your request there.
      And if you live in Atlanta, my son would be delighted to sell you our eggs! ☺️

  2. What breed do I have?
    I have 3 hens that are bearded and muffed, with feathers on their feet, 2 are black, one is lavender, I was told they were orpingtons, but I’m not sure because they are laying light green coloured eggs and I don’t think orpingtons lays green eggs, plus the fact they have the bearded muffs is not common to orpingtons, I am new to chicken raising and I’m enjoying it so far

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