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Top 10 Chicken Breeds for Colorful Egg Production

Updated: Apr 18

Chickens with colorful eggs

An Introduction to the Colorful World of Chicken Eggs

In recent years, colorful eggs have become popular among consumers. There has been a boom in demand for blue, green, tan, and chocolate-colored eggs in addition to the commonly seen brown and white eggs. There are many chicken breeds that have been bred to lay colored eggs, and adding these to your flock is a great way to add interest from your customers and increase your farm’s profitability.

In this article, we will dive deep into the fascinating world of chicken breeds and explore the unique colors they bring to the table. Whether you like the striking blue eggs laid by the Araucana breed or the rich chocolatey brown eggs of the Marans, each breed has a distinct palette, personality, and egg coloring.

The Science Behind Egg Color Variation

The color of an egg is determined by the breed of the chicken and its genetic makeup. The shell color is formed during the last few hours of egg formation as pigments are deposited on the surface of the shell. Let's get into the science, the primary pigment responsible for egg color is called protoporphyrin IX, which gives eggs a brown hue. However, other pigments, such as biliverdin and oocyanin, can also contribute to the range of colors we see in different eggs.

The genes responsible for egg color are complex and can interact in various ways. For example, the blue egg gene is dominant over the brown egg gene, which means that if a chicken inherits the blue egg gene from one parent and the brown egg gene from the other, it will lay blue eggs. However, if it inherits two copies of the brown egg gene, it will lay brown eggs. This explains why some chicken breeds consistently lay eggs of a certain color, while others exhibit more color variation. It's also worth noting that egg color can vary within a breed. Factors such as diet, age, and overall health of the chicken can influence the intensity of the egg color. The same breed of chicken may lay eggs of slightly different shades depending on these factors. Now, let's explore some of the common chicken breeds and the colors of eggs they produce.

Colorful Egg Production: Blue, Green, and Chocolate Brown

While white and brown eggs are the most commonly seen colors in grocery stores, several chicken breeds produce eggs in more unusual hues. Let's explore the origins and characteristics of blue, green, and chocolate brown eggs.

Blue Eggs: The blue egg gene is believed to have originated from the Araucana chickens of South America. These chickens were brought to Europe and North America, where they were crossbred with other breeds to create the Ameraucana and Easter Egger breeds. The intensity of the blue color can vary among different breeds and individual chickens.

Green Eggs: Green eggs are the result of a combination of blue and brown pigments. Chickens that lay green eggs have inherited both the blue egg gene and the brown egg gene. When these two pigments combine, they create a greenish hue on the shell. The most well-known breed that lays green eggs is the Olive Egger, which is a cross between a chicken that lays dark brown eggs and a chicken that carries the blue egg gene.

Chocolate Brown Eggs: The Maran breed is famous for its dark brown eggs, often referred to as "chocolate" eggs. These chickens have a genetic mutation that allows for a higher concentration of this pigment, resulting in their distinctive egg color.

What Color Eggs do Different Chickens Lay

In this next section, we will cover common chicken breeds and more about them. We will talk about egg color, disposition, history of the breeds, and general egg production.

  1. Ameraucana: The Ameraucana breed is famous for its beautiful blue eggs. These eggs can range in color from sky blue to a deep, almost turquoise shade. The breed is known for its distinct beard and muff feathers around its face, giving it a unique appearance. Ameraucana chickens are excellent layers, laying up to 300 eggs per year. They have a calm and friendly temperament, making them a popular choice among backyard chicken enthusiasts. Overall, the Ameraucana is one of the most popular layers of colorful eggs today. They are easy to procure and make a wonderful addition to any flock.

  2. Araucana: The Araucana chicken is another excellent layer of pale blue to bright, vibrant blue eggs. These birds may be the reason that blue eggs are so popular among consumers today. Although their name is often confused with the Ameraucana, they are a separate breed. They are much rarer than their blue-egg-laying counterpart, though, and are somewhat difficult to find in the United States. This beautiful breed of chicken originated in Chile, and was imported to the U.S. in the 1930s. It wasn’t until the past ten or so years that they rose in popularity. This breed is rumpless, meaning that they have no tail feathers. They have tufts of feathers that grow out from under their ears, giving them a comical appearance. They come in several different colors, including white, red, black, golden duckwing, and silver duckwing. Araucanas are only used for egg production, as their meat is not high quality. They lay medium-sized blue eggs at a rate of about three per week. However, they will stop laying during the winter. When it comes to their temperament, they are known to be friendly, sociable birds. Araucanas are known for their hardy nature and ability to adapt well to various climates, making them a sought-after breed for both egg production and exhibition purposes.

  3. Marans: Marans chickens are renowned duel producer for their meat and chocolate brown eggs, which can range from deep mahogany to a lighter, reddish-brown color. Their eggs are large and rich in flavor. Bakers find them excellent for baking pastries and breads. The breed originated from the town of Marans in France and has gained popularity for its richly flavored eggs. Maran chickens are known for their friendly and docile personalities, making them a great choice for backyard flocks. It should be noted that Marans do not lay their eggs as consistently during the winter months when compared to other breeds. You can find Marans chickens in many different colors, but the most popular are the Black Copper Marans and the Cuckoo Marans. The French variety of Marans have feathered legs, which require some extra care to keep them clean. Although Marans are known for their very dark, almost chocolate-colored eggs, this is generally only true for the first few years of their life. As time goes on, their eggs will become lighter in color.

  4. Welsummer: Welsummer chickens are a dual-purpose breed and lay about 200 eggs per year. Their eggs are colored a warm, terra-cotta brown color and often have dark speckles on them. The breed originated in the Netherlands and is known for its excellent egg-laying abilities. Welsummers are also prized for their attractive appearance. They have a combination of dark and light brown feathers, with vibrant plumage and striking red combs. The roosters have lustrous beetle-green feathers on their chest and sickles. This breed is calm and friendly, making it ideal for beginner chicken owners. They do well as free-range chickens, as they are excellent foragers. However, they can be a bit noisy, so they may not be the best option if you live close to neighbors. They are not a broody breed and make poor mothers. Their egg production also decreases in the wintertime.

  5. Easter Eggers: Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed but rather a mixed-breed or hybrid chicken that carries the blue egg gene. As a result, they can lay eggs in a variety of colors, including blue, green, and even pink. These eggs are large and colorful and they are very popular for these characteristics. These chickens are often chosen by backyard chicken keepers for their colorful eggs and friendly dispositions. They make a good choice for children or first-time chicken owners. They produce about four eggs per week and rarely go broody. The Easter Egger also makes an excellent forager, so if you want to let your flock free range and scratch around for their food in the yard, this breed will likely do well at it. They're hardy and resistant to disease as well. Although they are mainly used for egg production, they do well as a dual-purpose breed. They were created fairly recently by crossing Araucanas and Ameraucanas with other breeds. The only downside? Because they're hybrids (the offspring of two different breeds), there's no way to guarantee what color eggs your hens will lay — but we'll take variety any day!

  6. Cream Legbar The Cream Legbar is yet another type of chicken that is known for laying blue eggs. It was bred into existence in the 1930s by crossing the Araucana with the Gold Penciled Hamburg chicken. By the 1970s, their popularity had declined and they were nearly extinct, but luckily they made a comeback and are now a popular breed for backyard chicken owners and homesteaders. This breed will produce around 280 medium-sized blue eggs each year. Their level of broodiness depends on the strain. They are known to be predator-savvy and are excellent foragers. This means they excel as free-range chickens. They are also friendly and easy to care for and handle, making them ideal for beginners. The plumage of these birds is a combination of cream, golden crele, white and grey barring.

  7. Penedesenca The Penedesenca is another chicken known for laying dark brown eggs. They originated in the Catalonia district of Spain as a local breed. They gained popularity in the 1980s and were imported to other countries, including the United States. The Penedesenca is a dual-purpose breed, meaning they can be raised for both meat and egg production. Hens will lay around 200 dark reddish-brown eggs per year. They do tend to go broody, which can interrupt their egg production. You can find this breed in four different color varieties: partridge, wheaten, black, and crele. They do best as a free-range bird and thrive in both hot and cold climates. If you’re looking for a pet chicken, this is not the breed for you. They are known to be flighty and roosters may become aggressive toward humans, especially during mating season.

  8. Olive Egger The Olive Egger is unique because it lays green eggs! They are a cross between a blue egg-laying chicken and a brown egg-laying chicken. The first generation of their offspring will produce beautiful olive-green eggs. However, if you breed that first generation, only 50 percent of the resulting chicks will end up laying green eggs. This is a great chicken to add to your flock if you want to add a unique color to your egg basket. Hens are good producers of eggs and will lay around 200 medium-large eggs each year. They do not tend to be broody, which is good news if you don’t plan on hatching and raising chicks on your farm.

  9. Barnevelder The Barnevelder is a fairly new breed of chicken that hails from the Netherlands. They are a dual-purpose breed that produces stunning chocolate-colored eggs. These birds have brown plumage with double black lacing, giving them a striking appearance. The feathers on their necks are black with no patterning. Though this is the most common color, there are several other varieties available, including double-laced blue and chamois. Hens will lay between three and four large, dark brown eggs per week. They will occasionally be speckled. They also continue to lay through the winter, which makes them popular with chicken owners who live in colder climates. Barnevelder hens are not known to be broody, and are said to be calm and gentle.

  10. Whiting True Blue The Whiting True Blue is the last major breed of chicken that lays blue eggs. They are a recent addition to the poultry world and were created in Colorado by a fly fishing enthusiast. He crossbred White Leghorns and Ameraucanas to create the Whiting True Blue that we know today. Hens of this breed will lay between 250 and 300 large blue eggs each year, making them prolific egg producers. They are not prone to going broody. This breed is dual-purpose and can also be used for meat production. You can find the Whiting True Blue in several different color varieties, including Blue Wheaten, Black, and Silver Blue. They are easy to care for and are fairly self-sufficient. They excel as free-range birds and are a great choice for beginners. However, they do not make the best pets; they are not very fond of humans or being handled. Their eggs are truly blue, meaning that they are blue on the exterior and interior of the eggshell. Due to their high egg production, they should be fed a high-protein diet.

The Nutritional Differences Between Eggs of Different Colors

Many people wonder if there are any nutritional differences between eggs of different colors. While the color of the shell may vary, the nutritional content of the eggs remains largely the same. The color of the eggshell is determined by the breed of the chicken and does not affect the nutritional composition of the egg inside.

Eggs, regardless of their shell color, are an excellent source of high-quality protein and contain essential vitamins and minerals. They are particularly rich in nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium. The color of the yolk can vary slightly between different breeds, but this does not affect the nutritional value.

Factors That Can Affect Egg Color

While genetics play a significant role in determining egg color, several other factors can influence the intensity and consistency of the color. These factors include:

Diet: The diet of the chicken can have an impact on the color of the egg. For example, chickens that are fed a diet high in pigmented foods such as marigold petals or paprika may produce eggs with a more vibrant color. On the other hand, a diet lacking in these pigments may result in eggs with a lighter shade.

Age: As chickens age, the color of their eggs may change. Young chickens may lay eggs with a paler shade that intensifies as they mature. This is particularly noticeable in some chicken breeds that lay dark brown eggs, such as Marans.

Health: The overall health and well-being of the chicken can also affect the color of the eggs. Chickens that are stressed or unwell may produce eggs with a less vibrant color. Providing a comfortable and stress-free environment for the chickens can help ensure consistent egg color.

The Importance of Egg Color in Culinary and Agricultural Industries

Egg color plays a significant role in both the culinary and agricultural industries. In the culinary world, chefs and home cooks often seek eggs of different colors to add visual interest to their tables and menus. Chefs and home cooks are attracted to the vibrant hues of blue, green, and chocolate brown eggs While the color inside the egg is relatively the same as other eggs, the golden color and rich flavor of the egg yolk are much higher quality when they are fresh and the chickens are fed well. It elevates both the preparation (handling beautiful colored eggs), and the uniqueness of the menu item. The taste of a simple omelet or a batch of homemade pastries is noticeable when the eggs are fresh and the chicken is fed well.

Read this article to find out more about raising healthy layer chickens

In the agricultural industry, egg color can be an important marketing tool. Consumers are becoming more interested in the provenance of their food and are willing to pay a premium for eggs that come from specific chicken breeds known for their colorful eggs. The diversity of egg colors allows farmers to cater to a wider range of consumer preferences and create niche markets for their products. It's important to point out the need to practice egg safety in your business. Here are some food facts about egg safety.

Tips for Selecting Chicken Breeds Based on Egg Color Preferences

If you're considering raising chickens and have a preference for a specific egg color, here are some tips for selecting the right chicken breed:

  1. Research the breed: Before choosing a chicken breed, research the egg color that the breed is known for, what type of disposition they have, etc. This will help you narrow down your options and find a breed that produces the desired color and one that aligns with the flock you'd like to build.

  1. Consider other factors: While egg color is an important consideration, don't forget to take other factors into account, egg-laying ability, and adaptability to your climate. It's essential to choose a breed that suits your needs and preferences beyond just egg color.

  1. Seek advice from experienced chicken keepers: Reach out to experienced chicken keepers or join online forums and communities dedicated to backyard chickens. These resources can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on firsthand experiences.

Caring for Chickens That Lay Colorful Eggs

Caring for chickens that lay colorful eggs is not much different from caring for any other chicken breed. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Provide a balanced diet: Feed your chickens a well-balanced diet that includes a mix of quality chicken feed, fresh fruits and vegetables, and access to insects and greens. A healthy diet will contribute to the overall well-being of the chickens and help maintain consistent egg color.

  1. Provide proper housing and protection: Ensure that your chickens have a safe and secure coop that protects them from predators and provides adequate ventilation. The coop should also have nesting boxes where the chickens can lay their eggs comfortably.

  1. Regular health checks: Schedule regular health checks for your chickens to ensure they are in good health. This includes checking for signs of illness, monitoring egg production, and keeping the coop clean and free from parasites.

Final thoughts

From blue to chocolate brown to olive green eggs, there are many different colors of eggs that you can add to your egg basket. If you’re looking to add some variety to your flock, check out one of the breeds we listed above!

Need a way to keep track of your egg production? Take a look at our Farm Management Software to track chicken flocks, Farmbrite. We help small to medium-sized farms stay organized, and track their production, tasks, and a ton of other features.



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