CHICKIPEDIA : Bringing practical experience to the domestic poultry keeping world.

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Keeping Domestic Poultry : Coloured Egg Laying chickens These pages are part of a growing information resource inspired by, and based on, decades of helping domestic poultry keepers find the right solutions for their situation and our own experience breeding birds to improve selected pure breeds here in Scotland. No "out of the box, one size fits all" here. We recognise the individuality of your circumstances and have the experience, and the range of answers, to help you and your birds. It is far from complete please bear with us, and return to learn more.

Coloured Egg laying chickens
Most chickens lay eggs with a varying amount of brown tint.
The basic egg is white and then different breeds have been selected to lay more or less brown colour over the top.

  • White Eggs : these should be pure white, not a dirty white. If the latter then the breeding is poor.
There is absolutely no truth in the myth that white hens lay white eggs. There are many white breeds that lay coloured eggs and many coloured birds that lay white eggs.
In some countries the white egg is much more common as the commercial egg, these hybrids that produce them are based on the Leghorn, improved and specially selected as our rhode based hybrids are. It is these strains which have been used to great effect to produce so many of the recently created fashionable hybrids like all the "Stars" and such like. It is very important to remember this if you ever breed from your hybrids. Their parentage will contaminate any pure breeds you use. Just because they might look similar to a pure breed does not mean that its a good idea to breed them, there are few good strains left of the pure breeds. There is a serious danger we will lose what good stocks we have left from the indiscriminate breeding that is now happening.
The pure breeds that lay White Eggs include : Leghorns- all colours; Minorcans; Scots Dumpy;

  • Pale Tinted Eggs : Many of the fancies and non utility breeds lay a pale egg.
This can be because they are often created or refined over the generations using a mixture of breeds, and also because the quality of the egg has not been important to the breeders selection decisions.

  • Brown Eggs : Breeds that have been popular for productive egg laying and most of our commercial hybrids lay a good mid brown egg.
This has been our industry standard since the 1950's since the days of the original Lion Mark and advertising campaigns to promote eggs as a healthy and safe food.

  • Dark Brown Eggs :
The actual depth of colour depends on the quality of the breeding in preceding generations, how well the selection has been done.
It is also determined by the age of the bird and the season. As hens get older the eggs will get paler, but a good dark egg laying hen, even in her dotage, will still lay a noticably darker egg than all the previous colours, in fact, it often becomes blotchy.
The pure breeds that lay Dark Brown Eggs include : Marans; Welsumer; Barnevelder.
There are some of the modern fashion hybrids who have had some darker egg laying genetics included but these are often disappointing in their consistancy.

  • Blue Eggs: The only birds who have a different way of colouring their eggs is the Araucana, which were originally from Chile.
They should have a blue colour to their eggs, and this is laid down earlier in the egg making process so there is a hint of blue to the inside of the shell.
Any chickens which have some Araucana in their bloodlines will have the blue affecting the egg colour.
Unfortunately there are very few strains of Araucana that still have a simple blue egg colour. The breed quickly became contaminated with other breeds when Edwardian breeders tried to extend the colour range of the plumage, and to this day different breeds are introduced to get different markings and colours.
Always feather colouring is more popular amoungst breeders than egg colour or quality so the latter is often the feature to suffer.
This has led to many odd coloured egg layers
The Pure breeds that lay Blue Eggs are : Araucana and Cream Legbar. the latter being a paler colour with the dilution of the leghorn.

  • Olive, Khaki, Aqua and other odd egg colours : these are created from crossing Araucanas with other breeds, adulterating the blue gene with the brown. The strength of the brown genetics from the other parent breed gives you the shading from a dirty blue to olive which is most likely to be a Marans cross.
It is a complete falacy that a hen can lay different coloured eggs in her life BUT certain diseases can cause a brown egg layer to lose most of the colouring of her eggs.

Chickipedia is produced by Kintaline Poultry Centre, Benderloch, Oban, Argyll PA37 1QS

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