What comes to your head when you think of an egg? A tasty, oval-shaped creation with white or brown coloration, right?
Most of us are familiar with white and brown eggs often found in groceries and supermarkets. However, some rare chicken breeds produce eggs with different colors.
No! They are not pre-dyed eggs common during easter or gender reveal parties. These eggs naturally come in cream, brown, blue, chocolate, green, or pink hue.
But what changes the color of the eggs?
This article dives into the science and allure behind these unique creations. It also highlights several chicken breeds that produce eggs with a delightful pink coloration.
Why Do Chicken Eggs Have Different Colors?
Nature is full of surprises that never cease to amaze us. From the vastness of the cosmos to the tiniest organisms, the natural world presents us with an array of awe-inspiring processes, adaptations, and phenomena.
But how does nature relate to the different shades of chicken eggs?
Well, it has offered chickens a range of color schemes and patterns for skin patches, feathers, and eggshells for several purposes. These include camouflage and protection from the ground and aerial predators.
For instance, Oliver Eggers lay eggs with olive color, while Easter Eggers can produce blue or green eggs. On the other hand, Anconas, Leghorns, and Andalusians lay white eggs that have dominated the market for years.
Colorful eggs are pleasing to the eyes and add an element of novelty to your egg basket. However, all eggs are the same, meaning they have no significant differences in nutrient composition and taste.
Can Chicken Lay Pink Eggs?
To better understand the concept of pink eggs, it helps to familiarize yourself with egg formation in chickens.
Hens start laying eggs as early as 16 to 22 weeks old. Your backyard flock will continue to produce eggs for 3 to 4 years. However, the eggshell quality, egg size, and production reduce each year. That’s why, experts recommend retiring old hens and adding pullets (young hens) every 2-3 years.
During egg formation, the ovum or yolk formed in the hen’s ovaries travels to the oviduct. This journey usually takes 26 hours, with 20 hours used for shell formation.
The eggshell starts white because it’s primarily made of calcium. But as it continues to develop, the cells within the hen’s uterus release pigments that permeate the interior and exterior of the egg.
It’s believed chickens that lay white eggs like the White Leghorn have little to no pigments. As a result, their eggs retain the white coloration.
Blue egg layers like Ameraucana birds produce biliverdins, which give their eggs blue and blue-green pigmentation (for olive eggers). These pigments not only tint the exterior surface of the egg but also the interior.
Protoporphyrins or porphyrins permeate eggs to form red, brown, and chocolate coloration. But once you break these eggs, you will realize the interior maintains a white coloration.
Some chickens also produce speckled eggs. But as it turns out, the speckles are simple extra calcium deposits on the shell.
What of pink eggs?
Pink eggs result from variations within the breed. Most brown and cream egg layers like Easter Egger, Buff Orpington, and Australorp have an affinity to produce pink eggs. This holds, especially if they get crossed with backyard flocks that lay blue eggs or olive eggs.
Pink eggs usually have a variety of shades, including Baby pink, Sand, seashell, and salmon.
Chicken Breeds That Lay Pink Eggs
In this section, we will discuss the various breeds of chickens with an affinity for pink eggs. Let’s dive in!
Originating from Australia, the Australorps make great chickens for backyards and small farms because of their exceptional egg-laying ability.
This breed of chicken is calm, active, and family-friendly. As such, they are easy to handle and suitable for families with children or beginner poultry owners.
Besides that, Australorp chickens stand out because of their stunning glossy black feathers and bright red wattles and combs.
Over the year, Silkie have gained worldwide popularity, thanks to their charming traits. This fascinating breed has fluffy feathers, which lack the barbicels common in traditional chicken feathers. The feathers also have a unique texture, like fur, and cover the birds’ tiny heads.
In addition, to their distinctive plumage, Silkies are calm and friendly and enjoy human interaction. For this reason, they are great to have around families with kids. Additionally, they make a perfect addition to backyard flocks as ornamental birds and pets.
In terms of egg production, Silkie hens can lay around 100 small to medium-sized eggs per year. The eggs usually vary in color, ranging from tinted brown to cream or pink.
The only downside to Silkies is that they are a high-maintenance chicken breed. Their delicate feathers require some special attention, especially when it’s raining. If they get wet, they need to be dried off so they don’t stick together.
Silkie chickens are also susceptible to extreme weather, especially during hot conditions. As such, owners must provide the birds with enough shade to protect them from overheating.
3. Buff Orpington
Bred by William Cook In the late 1880s, the Oripington is an amazing dual-purpose chicken. The breed gets its name from a town in Kent England.
However, its variation, the Buff Orpington, is super popular and highly sought after for its egg-laying ability. The hens can lay anywhere from 200 to 340 large, light-brown eggs. But some hens might produce pinkish-brown eggs, introducing variety to egg baskets.
Furthermore, the breed has a gentle, obedient, and friendly personality. Whether you are a novice or an expert chicken keeper, you will love this breed for its hardiness, large colorful eggs, and tasty meat.
4. Salmon Faverolles
As the name suggests, the Salmon Faverolles originated from Faverolles, a commune in Northern France. This breed stands out from traditional breeds because of its unique salmon-colored plumage created by the light brown to light honey feathers.
However, this feature is only common on hens and not the roosters. These birds also have feathered feet with five toes and fluffy cheeks. Most Salmon Faverolles are raised as dual-purpose chickens, meaning they can produce enough meat and eggs.
Besides that, the breed is gentle, friendly, and active. Salmon Faverolles have great personalities and rarely show aggressive tendencies toward other animals and people.
Expect the breed to provide your eggs, meat, and companionship for 5 to 7 years. If you raise them for egg production, the hens can produce eggs 3 to 4 times every week, totaling 180 to 200 eggs annually. Most eggs have a light brown shade, but occasionally some eggs can have a pinkish tint.
5. Mottled Javas
If you’re looking for an ancient breed of chicken that can lay pink eggs, look no further than the Mottled Java. Recognized by the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection, this breed is a variation of the Java chicken that dates back to the 1830s.
You will love the Mottled Java chickens because of the striking black and white speckled plumage, as well their strong red eye color and yellow marks on the shanks and toes. Not only are they stunning but also hardy, withstanding cold and hot climates.
Aside from that, they are good layers with the ability to lay eggs throughout the year provided they stay active and entertained.
A Mottled Java hen can produce between 150 and 180 eggs per year. While they are primarily brown egg layers, some hens have been reported to lay eggs with pinkish-brown undertones.
If that’s not enough, the hens enjoy brooding and usually sit on the eggs until they hatch. Like most Java chickens, Mottled Javas are super protective over their chicks so don’t mess with them when they’re nurturing.
6. Croad Langshan
Here’s another ancient backyard chicken breed you should add to your flock. The Croad Langshan is a majestic and elegant chicken from China that made its way to Europe through Major F.T. Croad.
The breed finally arrived in America in 1870, and immediately became a hit because of its long, glossy black and white feathers.
Another distinctive trait of the breed is its long legs with some areas spotting feathers. It also features long tail feathers and has an upright stance.
Croad Langshan chickens usually produce around 150 to 180 different colored eggs. While brown is the primary color, some eggs have a subtle pink hue and sometimes a blue hue.
In addition to their stunning appearance and beautiful eggs, the hens are also valued for their calm temperament.
7. Barred rock
Another chicken breed worth considering is the Barred Rock. This classic American chicken first graced backyards in the mid-1800s. But dues to several reasons it disappeared from the market until late 1870 when they re-appeared in Massachusetts.
Also known as Plymouth Rock, this chicken breed is sought out by poultry keepers and enthusiasts for its hardiness and versatility. Barred rock chickens also stand out for their unique black and white striped plumage.
In terms of egg-laying capabilities, Barred Rock hens are super layers, producing approximately 200 large, dark brown eggs (chocolate brown eggs). Although some Barred Rocks lay pink eggs, the hue might appear faint.
These birds reach their peak egg-laying age at 3 years and they continue to provide you with eggs until the age of 10 years.
8. Light Sussex
Last but not least, we have the Light Sussex breed. Enthusiasts believe the breed first arrived in England after the Roman invasion 2000 years ago. Originally, it was raised as table fowl but over the year it evolved into a dual-purpose chicken breed.
Light Sussex chickens stand tall, with standard varieties weighing 7 to 9 pounds. Bantam varieties weigh between 2.4 to 3.3 pounds. These birds are renowned for their elegant appearance which commands respect.
They are a hardy species that can withstand cold winter weather but will require protection from the sun during summer. Additionally, Light Sussex chickens love open space, and given the opportunity they will explore the environment while foraging.
On average, a Light Sussex hen lays over 240 large, beautiful eggs per year. While these birds are predominantly brown egg layers, they lay pink eggs more than any breed. What’s more, they are gentle and co-exist peacefully with other breeds.
As we wrap up, some chicken breeds produce colorful eggs, thanks to the pigments produced by the cells in their uterus. Traditional egg colors include white and brown, but blue, cream, chocolate brown, and pink eggs also exist.
Besides pigments, other factors can influence the egg’s color, including genetics. Some breeds tend to produce more colorful eggs than others. In the case of pink eggs, opt for breeds like Silkies, Barred Rocks, Light Sussex, Salmon Faverolles, and Molted Javas.
You can also predict the color of a hen’s egg by looking at its ear lobes. Oftentimes, chickens with white earlobes will lay white eggs. Those with darker earlobes tend to produce colored eggs.
That said, the color of the eggs does not influence their taste and nutritional content. Also, the color affects only the outside and inside surface of the egg, not the yolk.
Hopefully, you’ve found this comprehensive article helpful. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment box below!