More Than Just Brown And White
If you buy your eggs at your local grocery store, you are probably bringing home the basic white egg. Some folks might get a little fancy and bring home eggs in various shades of brown. To most of the egg eating population, white and brown chicken eggs are all that exist. But there is so much more to discover! Are blue eggs really a thing?
A Rainbow of Colors!
The greatest glory for many a backyard chicken keeper is to have a beautiful basket of eggs to display on their kitchen counter. That perfect basket just wouldn’t be complete without blue eggs! Yes, there are chickens that lay exclusively blue eggs! No food coloring required, chickens can lay eggs in a variety of blues, greens, browns, or even with a hint of pink!
So where are these blue egg-laying magical creatures? There are only a few chicken breeds that will consistently lay blue eggs.
Chicken Breeds That Lay Blue Eggs
Chicken breeds that are known for laying blue and blue-green colored eggs are:
Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1976. They have a pea comb, ear tufts, and rumples (no tail) and green or willow colored legs with yellow foot bottoms. Araucana are good layers of medium sized blue eggs. They are also excellent mothers. They like to wander and therefore need more forage space. They tend to be friendly birds that are good with children.
Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1984. They have a pea comb, muffs and beard feathers, a full feathered tail and blue legs with white foot bottoms. They come in a variety of colors including black, blue, blue wheaten, brown red, buff, silver, white, and wheaten. Ameraucana are good layers of medium sized blue eggs that can go broody on occasion. They do tolerate confinement but as they tend to be independent, they would prefer to free range. They tend to be sweet and gentle, people friendly birds.
Not yet recognized by the American Poultry Association, this breed developed in England, is a mix of a Leghorn, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Araucana. They have a crest, single comb, yellow legs, and colored with a barring of creams and grays. Cream Legbars are very good layers of medium sized blue eggs. The jury is still out on the temperament of this breed. There appears to be two distinctly different strains. One strain is quite friendly and docile, while the other strain seems to be flighty and noisy. Regardless of the strain, they do tend to get picked on and don’t do well in confinement. They are much better suited for foraging larger spaces.
Often mistaken for Ameraucana and Araucana, the Easter Eggers are mixed breeds with the “rainbow” genes. They usually have a pea comb, fuzzy muffs, greenish gray legs and feet, and come in a variety of colors. These birds are excellent layers and foragers. They do well in a mixed flock as well as with hatching and raising chicks. They are friendly, social and good with children. The Easter Egger will lay medium sized eggs in various shades of blues, greens, browns and even pinks. It will be a surprise to see what color each chicken will lay when she starts providing you with eggs! Due to the mixing of breeds, the Easter Egger will come in a large variety of colors and patterns making them an excellent addition to any backyard flock!
With all the talk of blue egg layers and “rainbow” layers, we should not forget the Olive Egger! Very much like the Easter Egger, the Olive Egger is a mixed breed that will lay green eggs every time. This is achieved with crossing a blue egg layer with a brown egg layer. These birds tend to have the same temperament as the Easter Eggers, as well as the same variety in appearance. They are excellent layers of medium sized green eggs.
Why Are Some Chicken Eggs Blue?
No matter the breed, all chicken eggs start out as white as they begin development, primarily made up of calcium carbonate. Chickens get some of what they need from layer feed but must also be supplemented with a good oyster shell or crushed eggshell to produce their eggs.
So where exactly does the color come from? Different breeds of chicken carry different pigment genes. The color that a chicken lays for its very first egg will be the same color it will lay for its entire lifetime. It’s all part of the chicken’s DNA!
· White egg layers have no pigment genes.
· Brown egg layers have a pigment called porphyrin that creates the brown outer shell. The pigment is released near the end of the egg development, leaving the inside of the egg still white.
· Blue egg layers have a pigment called oocyanin. Unlike the brown, the blue pigment is released much earlier in the egg development, resulting in blue eggshell inside and out!
· “Rainbow” egg layers are crossed with both brown and blue pigments.
Can You Eat Blue Chicken Eggs?
Yes! You can eat blue chicken eggs. Whether the eggs be blue, green, pink or brown, they will be just as edible as the white egg. Shell color plays no part in egg quality or flavor. There are however a few things to consider when it comes to that tasty factor.
· Egg quality is directly related chicken diet.
· Chickens eating only grain feed will have a paler yellow yolk.
· Chickens allowed to free range eating a mix of feed, fresh greens, and insects will have a brighter yellow, richer tasting yolk.
The rewards of having a backyard flock are endless! Nothing beats the taste of fresh eggs for breakfast or the sound of the “egg song” while the girls sound off with pride… Except maybe that beautiful rainbow basket of eggs sitting on the counter. Too pretty to eat!