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Egg-splaining why chicken eggs can be different colors

One just needs to look at the color of the hen's ear lobes to determine what color egg they will lay.

TEXAS, USA — With Easter coming up this weekend, it is a great time to talk about eggs, naturally. So, have you ever wondered why chicken eggs can be different colors?

Most eggs we see are either white or brown but they can also come in colors like cream, pink, blue, and green. Some eggs are even speckled.

But, why? The answer is in genetics and can be found in the color of the hen's ear lobes. Yes, hens have ear lobes!

“Generally, hens with white earlobes will produce white eggs,” said Gregory Archer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist in the Department of Poultry Science, Bryan-College Station. “But all eggs start out white because the shells are made from calcium carbonate. They get their color from the hen’s genetics as the egg forms.”

Archer said, more often than not, chickens with lighter earlobes also have white feathers and produce white eggs. Those with colored feathers and darker earlobes will likely produce colored eggs.  

Chickens come in all different colors for various reasons including camouflage, protection from predators and to signal individual identity.

Egg color is determined by the chicken's genes, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service poultry specialist. The breed of hen will also help indicate what color of egg will be produced.

"For example, Leghorn chickens lay white eggs, while Orpington’s lay brown eggs and Ameraucana lay blue eggs. And the “olive egger” breed lays … wait for it … olive-green eggs."

It is important to note that egg color does not have any effect in the taste or composition of the egg. 

You can read more at Texas A&M Agrilife's website here. 


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