So You Want A Colorful Egg Basket

When I bought my first flock of 7 chickens, I got 4 Easter Eggers (blue/green eggs), a New Hampshire (brown egg), a Jersey Giant (brown egg), and...
  1. CarolJ
    So You Want a Colorful Egg Basket!

    I’m very partial to a colorful egg basket. No blah all white or all brown eggs for me! The more colors, the better. Like many people, I grew up thinking white eggs were what you bought at the grocery store, and brown eggs were what you got from a farm. I remember the first time I saw blue eggs. We had gone to our local farmers’ market, and there was a farm family selling eggs. The eggs were beautiful – all browns and blues. After that, and until I got chickens of my own, I went to the farmers' market each weekend and bought my eggs from that farmer. I knew that colorful eggs were what I wanted from my own chickens. As I learned more about chickens, I learned that not only were there white, brown and blue eggs, but there were varying shades and combinations of each color.

    Before selecting chickens for a laying flock, it is important to know two basic facts about egg colors:

    • The color of the egg shell has no bearing on the taste or nutritional composition of the egg. Once you crack open the shell, all eggs are essentially the same. Having a variety of egg shell colors is purely a visually aesthetic endeavor.
    • The color of each hen’s eggs will remain the same throughout the hen’s life. The shade of the color will usually be darker at the beginning of each egg-laying cycle and lighter at the end, but the basic color doesn’t change.

    When it comes to eggs, there are three main colors: white, brown, blue. The other colors are some combination of those three colors.

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    When I bought my first flock of 7 chickens, I got 4 Easter Eggers (blue/green eggs), a New Hampshire (brown egg), a Jersey Giant (brown egg), and an Ancona (white egg). Three of my Easter Eggers laid blue/green eggs, but one ended up laying a cream colored egg – which was disappointing at first until I realized it provided a new color for my egg basket. I'm still missing a dark chocolate brown egg, but I should start getting those any day now.

    Here are some guidelines for building a flock that will lay a variety of egg colors. For the purposes of this article, we are looking only at LF (Large Fowl) breeds that are recognized as good-to-excellent layers. However, if there is a breed you particularly like, it might be worth it to you to get fewer eggs in order to have that breed.

    White Eggs
    Leghorns are the standard for proficient layers of white eggs. There are many varieties of leghorns. The long-favored variety is the white leghorn, but there are also brown leghorns, exchequer leghorns (white with black spots), black leghorns, and even mille fleur (multi-colored) leghorns – and others. While there are other breeds that lay white eggs, you’ll get the most eggs from leghorns. Leghorns are smaller chickens and are known for laying more eggs while eating less (feed to egg ratio).

    Light Brown/Brown Eggs
    Light brown/brown can vary from a pale almost-white cream color to a pinkish color to a rich caramel brown. If you’re looking for lots and lots of brown eggs, you can’t go wrong with a sex-link. Sex-links are cross-bred chickens that can be sexed at hatch by their color. The extra vigor they have as hybrids usually makes them extremely good egg-layers. There are many varieties of sex-links, and often hatcheries come up with their own name for a variety. One popular variety is a Black Star – which is a cross between a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster and a Barred Rock hen.

    Other excellent light-brown/brown layers are Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Black Australorps, and Barred Rocks.

    Dark Brown Eggs
    Marans lay some of the darkest brown eggs – with the Black Copper Marans laying the darkest. There are other varieties of Marans as well - Cuckoo Marans, Blue Copper Marans, White Marans, Wheaten Marans, to name a few.

    Another popular dark egg layer is the Welsummer. Welsummer eggs won’t be as dark as a Marans, but they often have speckles which makes them appealing for variety.


    Blue/Green Eggs – Easter Eggers are the most common of the blue/green egg layers since they’re “mutts” and not recognized as a distinct breed. Despite being mutts, there are some beautiful Easter Eggers, and I particularly enjoy them. They’re usually easy-going, and I love their beards and the muffs on either side of their faces. Easter Eggers are generally good layers, but it is a gamble about what color egg you’ll get. Most lay greenish eggs – but you can also get blue, blue-green, olive or light brown – really just about any color is possible. Still, the odds are that you'll get blue/green eggs from an Easter Egger..

    Other blue egg layers are Araucanas, Ameraucanas and Cream Legbars. Isbars lay a mossy colored green egg – sometimes with speckles. Salmon Favorelles lay a light brown egg that sometimes looks pink. Each of these breeds are fair to good layers, although not quite as prolific as a Leghorn or sex-link.

    Olive-Eggers are a mix between a blue/green layer and a dark brown layer. For example, breeding an Ameraucana with a Black Copper Marans. Depending on which breeds were used, an Olive-Egger could also be a great layer and offer yet another color for your egg basket.

    How to use this information
    Here is a suggested plan of action for building your flock for maximum variety of egg shell colors:
    • Decide how many chickens you want for your flock. On average, you can count on 3 to 5 eggs per week from each chicken. This will vary, of course, depending on the breeds, the time of year and a host of other factors.
    • Decide which color eggs you want and the ratio of colors. For example, do you want mostly blue/green eggs with a few brown and an occasional white to help show off the variety of colors?
    • Research each breed and determine which ones appeal to you the most. Each person has his/her own preferences. Do a Google or BYC search on each breed. Make sure the typical temperament of each breed will fit your needs and situation. Most breeds have a thread on the BYC Forum. Join that forum and ask the members questions to help you make your decision.
    • Locate a resource for each breed you want. It could be a hatchery, a local breeder, or you could obtain hatching eggs and incubate them at home. You can almost always find resources through the BYC Buy-Sell-Trade forum. Sometimes you can find good resources online through sites such as Craigslist.

    Once you have your flock established, be sure to show off photos of your colorful eggs! Good luck!

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Comments

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  1. Beyond Yonder
    Hello, I have a few questions. I have 4 Australorps, 4 Olive Eggers, 2 Anconas, and two Well Summers. I would love to add blue eggs to the mix, but do not want my girls abused. Should I add an Ameraucana Roo or other type to the mix and grow my own rainbow.
  2. chick rookie
    thanks for this great info, I am trying to get rainbow colors and now I know how. thank you
  3. Brandi Leigh
    Very informative article!
  4. RangingChicks
    This was very helpful. Thank you!
  5. dannifer
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  7. farmerfogg
    I really enjoyed reading this article! I just received 6 hens from a friends flock. I have 2 White Leghorn's, 2 Rhode Island Red's, and 2 Dominiques. My Dominiques just hatched out in June 2012, the others were hatched out in Jan-Feb 2012. We are currently getting 2 white eggs and 2 brown eggs from our older hens. Soon we should get brown eggs from my Dominique hen. It looks like my other Dominique is a rooster. I really enjoy going to the nest box every day to see our newly laid eggs. One day I will add other breeds to our flock.
  8. Matovu Paul
    Good article I will look for that breed
  9. micheller1210
    I agree, all the colors are so beautiful, I want an array a small rainbow of colors.
  10. <3 N.C Chicken Chick <3
    When I get a bigger coop I will have to adjust my hens by egg color. :D That was a wonderful article! Thanks :]
  11. Aprilriley
    I have brown layers and some easter eggers. Don't you think it is fun just to color your own eggs? I do Psyanky and have some beautifully colored eggs. ;} Try it; it's alot of fun.
  12. Baby Chick
    How do you get pink eggs?
  13. Marty1876
    I enjoyed your article. I was pleased to find many of the birds I'd hatched this year just for colorful egg baskets were on your list. It was also nice to learn I could cross my BCM with Ameracauna for another egg color. Thanks for taking the time to write such an interesting and suscinct article!
  14. cooguy1234567
    cool im about to buy amricaunas to day
  15. Cindlady
    Thanks real_redhead! I'm working on it. If not this year next year. I do get some pretty dark eggs now, and I get a couple of types of speckeled eggs too! It's cool watching people open a carton for the first time! ;)
  16. fultzie
    I think any color egg is good if its home grown sort of speak ..love them all , i think its so rewardding when you go out to collect your eggs and have all the differnt colors in the box!!
  17. Serama Newbee
    I will be getting partridge pedescenta hens in June, and have heard they lay as, if not darker that Marans. Can't wait to find out!
    :D
  18. l-o-v-e
    great job I have 8 rhode island reds SO THANKS
  19. real_redhead
    Too bacd you are so far away Cinlady I will have an extra maran soon! Keep looking - check craigslist! Good luck
  20. Cindlady
    I was very disappointed at our TSC this year, I was looking for a few breeds this year and not one of 4 came in! I think ours only had 4 or 5 breeds the whole time! :/ I did get 2 + kinds I wanted from a local breeder (haha!) I just hatched a bunch that should have almost any color except the very dark/chocolate ones...I need some Marans!
  21. verity
    great info!
  22. real_redhead
    I love the different color eggs and with the loss of all of my flock but one due to a dog attack I decided to order chicks instead of going to TSC. This way I could get different breeds, I have coming in June - Cuckoo Maran, Barred Rock, Welsummer, EE, Speckled Sussex, Dominique I think I might be missing one or two! Plus since I couldn't wait until June I did get a bantam, Tetra Tint and a Red at TSC to tide me over!! I can't wait for the dark brown eggs!
  23. safyrenice
    I've been looking for an article just like this! Thanks so much!
  24. SarniaTricia
    My goals to a "T"
    I currntly have a small flock of red Sex-links(different shades of light brown) with one EE (green). There are Amerucauna chicks (blue), EE chicks(blue) in the brooder. I also have Brown leghorn (white), Marans (dark brown), Jersey Giant(pinkish eggs!) and Laced Wyandotte (for fun) in the incubator!
    By next year I should have lots of rainbow eggs!
  25. MrsSerfesME
    I am so glad I found this article. I am hoping to have a varied flock to get different colored eggs. I grew up on brown eggs, our grocery stores have always sold white and brown eggs. We've also occasionally have gotten white and brown eggs from friends or family members with chickens, but I have never actually seen and blue or green chicken egg except here on BYC and I am eager to have some of my own chickens laying eggs of those colors.
  26. auto5man
    My sentiments exactly! I love a smany colors as possible and am building my flock by egg color. Hatched out some Cuckoo Marans on Easter Sunday for my dark brown eggs, have two "ameracauna" (probably EE's) that were sold as blue-egg layers but we will see. Also have a friend breeding me some Olive Egger chicks. I would also like to get some welsummers! In my laying flock I have a White Leghorn,RIR cross...pretty much she is all white with some light cream highlights. She is a prolific layer and her color is a beautiful shiny cream color egg. My other hens lay varying shades of brown (except for one green egg laying EE).
  27. Bantamsized
    I just got my Bantam Araucana chick and can't wait for her colorful eggs :D
  28. Whittni
    Nice article...post of pic of your dark brown eggs when they come :)
  29. DawnSuiter
    A mixed color basket is the best. I'm incubating chocolate eggers now to add to my flock!
  30. Cindlady
    Looking for some green egg layers from this last hatch! I love mixed colored eggs and so do the people I sell to!
  31. americana-lover
  32. UnderHisWings
    Very helpful- thanks!
  33. MadabtChickens
    Great article! I have RIRs, Leghorns, a light Sussex, and EEs. I can't wait for them all to start laying. I'm looking forward to a pretty basket and lots of eggs.
  34. Lothiriel
    Congratulations, CarolJ! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for submitting it in the BYC Article Contest.
  35. JasminesCrown
    i think brown eggs are better than white eggs.

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