The Color Of Chicken Eggs

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“We are new at the Chicken raising and I find your newsletter very helpful every week. In June we received 3 hens and they started laying for us in September. We were getting approx 1 egg every other day, maybe 2 between the 3 hens, and then as your newsletter explained to me the days got shorter and we were getting no eggs for quite some time.

The eggs we were getting from the hens were brown, and now for the last week we have received an egg everyday… but the eggs are white. At first I thought someone was playing a trick on us until this morning the one we received was still warm. I may have misunderstood somewhere along the way, but I thought egg colour had to do with the food they eat? or does egg colour have to do with the kind of chicken? Can you help me understand PLEASE? Thanks so much for your time” ~ Crystal, Ontario, Canada

Thanks for the question Crystal.

The color of the yolk of the egg is affected by the food that the chicken eats.

This is due to a group of chemicals called carotenoids that are found in plants. Probably the most commonly know carotenoid that we humans would be familiar with is beta-carotene.

Manufacturers, understanding that consumers prefer the deep yellow yolks of free range chickens, have now started adding these carotenoids to many commercial feeds.

As for the color of the egg’s shell, that has nothing to do with the food consumed by the hen but is strictly due to genetics.

The pigment that colors the shell is deposited in the hen’s oviduct. As a hen ages, it is not uncommon to find subtle changes in the shade of her eggs. This also can happen occasionally for unexplained reasons throughout her laying lifespan.

A hen with white ear lobes will lay white eggs, a hen with red or brown ear lobes will lay brown eggs.

As I said, it is not uncommon to see a little variation in the shade of the egg but it is very unlikely that a brown egg laying hen would suddenly start to lay white eggs.

So here’s what I’m wondering; could it be that one of your hens is a white egg layer?

Could it be that she was a later maturing breed than the other two?

Maybe she came into her molt before she started laying and is just now giving you her eggs where the other two had started to lay before molting and have not yet come out of it completely.

To be honest Crystal, this is the only explanation I can come up with.

If there is an illness that is associated with a drastic change in egg color, I’m sorry but I am not aware of it. I was also not able to find any research on the subject.

If you start to get 2 or more white eggs a day from the 3 hens when you were getting 2 brown eggs a day, you might want to consult a veterinarian.

I hope this has offered you some clarification, best of luck.

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