Today is Easter, and I hope everyone is managing to have a happy day despite the unfortunate global events. To brighten things up, I want to share some interesting info about chicken (and duck) egg colors. Natural eggs come in a rainbow variety that’s pretty amazing to see – no dye required! Besides the usual white and brown you find in stores, eggs can also be dark maroon or pink, green, blue, gray, and speckled… Read on for more pics and an explanation.
Egg color mainly depends on three things:
1) Shell color, which can be either white or some shade of blue.
2) Outer pigment, which comes in various shades of brown and might be composed of multiple layers. A brown egg has that color on the outside, but the inner eggshell will still be white. A blue egg is due to the shell color, so the inside is also blue. Green eggs are produced by a combination of brown pigment over a blue shell.
3) Bloom (aka “cuticle”), which is a protective coating that chickens apply to an egg just before it’s laid. It dries up almost immediately, and seals the pores of the eggs to prevent bacteria from getting into them. The bloom might dry clear, or whitish, or even give the egg a more exotic hue such as pink, purple, or gray! It washes off easily, and once it’s gone the egg is no longer sealed against bacteria – that’s why washed eggs have to be refrigerated! (To see the bloom drying on a freshly laid egg, check out Our Video.)
Some breeds add more layers of brown pigment for an extra dark egg – the dark reddish brown egg in this pic was from Buffy, who is a Welsummer that just started laying a few weeks ago. Some of her eggs have a gorgeous speckled pattern which I’ll add to a different video. Breeds that lay very dark eggs tend to run low on pigment after a while… kind of like a printer that’s low on ink. They usually reset after a rest period in the winter, and go back to laying very dark eggs when they start back up in spring. The gray egg pictured on the plate is from one of my Cayuga Ducks – their eggshell is white, but the outer coating starts out very dark gray early in the laying season.
Patterns on eggs can come from a gradient in the color of the bloom, calcium deposits, or pigment speckles.
Thank you to everyone for reading this – if you found it interesting, please take a moment to share with your friends 🙂 And check back again soon for a post detailing which breeds lay which colors!