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Egg Shell Color

January 14, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQuick – what’s the healthiest egg color?

There is too often misinformation about the chickens that lay eggs. Even animal behavior experts like Temple Grandin have said brown birds lay brown eggs and white birds lay white eggs – this just is not true.

Birds like white Rocks and white Wyandottes have white feathers but indeed will lay brown eggs. On the other hand small breeds like brown Leghorns and Anconas lay white eggs, despite their dark coloring.

A visual of some laying hens:

There are some marketing claims that say there’s higher vitamin E in Araucana or Americauna eggs, or that outdoor eggs are healthier than indoor. The feed that the birds get counts for much more. The egg shell color is determined by genetics of the bird, not by “healthiness” of the egg. Yet many still view brown eggs as ‘healthier’ rather than the conditions the birds are maintained in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s chickens are excellent at their jobs. Dual purpose birds, which lay a good amount of eggs and also a decent meat bird – are maintained by smaller farms. You can, generally, tell what color egg shells a hen lays by the color of her ‘ear lobes’. The two birds in the photo at right – look just below and behind the eye. One has a white patch while the bird on the right has a red patch. The one on the left, an Ancona, lays white eggs, and has a white patch under the eye behind the wattle – the red thing that hangs down under the head. The barred bird on the right, brown eggs and red patch. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but most of the time is true.

What the birds eat affects nutrition more than egg shell color. Choose your preference, but don’t choose on false information!


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