subtle differences in eggshell color


7 Years
May 15, 2012
We are so delighted that our chickens finally started laying about a week ago. They are Wyandottes - 2 Golden-laced and one Columbian. The Goldens started first, and the Columbian laid her first egg yesterday.

All three lay very pretty (still smallish) eggs that are a light brown with a pinkish cast. Each is slightly different though, and it seemed to me at first that maybe each chicken had their own signature pattern/color - one laid pinker ones, one laid darker brown ones, and one's always had tiny white speckles on them. But now as I'm getting more eggs, I'm not so sure - seems like there are more variations than that.

Was I right at first, that chickens each have a unique signature egg color? Or are there just natural variations and any chicken could lay a different variation every day?

Once my EEs start laying (they're 26 and 24 weeks old) it will get even more fun!
The answer is yes and no. They do generally have their own characteristics but they can vary, both egg to egg and especially over time.

The genetics part is that there are a whole lot of different genes that affect brown egg color. That's why you can get so many different shades of brown. Many people tend to think that a breed will only lay one shade of brown, and they do have tendencies, but the fact is that they can vary a lot within the breed. There are not that many breeders that actually breed for uniformity of egg shell brown shade.

The daily part is that the egg gets its color applied in the shell gland. Adding the color is about the last thing that happens in there. If something disrupts how long that egg is in there, you can get a different shade. And there can be some variation on just how efficient or consistent a hen's shell gland or any other part of her internal egg factory may be.

Over time, a hen uses up stored pigment to color the egg shell. What they eat plays a big part of this and so does how often they lay eggs, but practically any brown egg laying hen will use more pigment than she eats. When she first starts laying, either her first eggs as pullets or when she returns to laying after a molt, her eggs will be as dark brown as they ever will be. I have some that lay a really pretty brown egg when they finish the molt but will practically be laying a white egg by the time they get around to molting again.

Another thing that can happen is that each hen may put her own signature on an egg with spots, freckles, or maybe some calcium deposits. These things can vary day to day, but I have some that normally lay smooth brown eggs and some that usually lay freckled eggs. These freckles and spots are probably more dependable on telling you which hen laid the egg than the actual egg shade unless there is a tremendous difference on shade of brown.

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