what makes the colour of the shell?


12 Years
Sep 29, 2007
My best layer has been laying all winter, most days. She used to lay brown eggs but they have gradually been getting lighter in colour. They are almost white now. My other hen hardly laid any eggs over winter and her eggs are very brown. They both eat the same diet. The brown layer has 'tanned' looking yellow-brown legs and the white layer now has pinky-white legs. I was wondering if something is being 'used up' from the body of the white layer. I am interested in what makes the colour of the shell, and if the hen needs something to improve her shells.
They are about 2.5 years old and in good health.


11 Years
Feb 3, 2008
Raymond, Mississippi
Genetics determine egg shell color as far as I know. Do the hens have oyster shell available to them free choice at all times? My mixed hen't shells vary slightly in color from time to time. They are generally cream colored, but occasionally will be a bit lighter. Do you know if the combs and wattles af both these hens is bright red just before they lay? If the combs are ususally red just before they lay, that is a good sign. If suddenly the comb pigment is pinker, I would suggest having a stool sample checked by a local vet for worms. I don't know if worms/anemia can affect egg shell color; just guessing here.
Best wishes.
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12 Years
Apr 5, 2007
Southern Dallas County, TX
From one of those articles:

Age of the bird
. As the brown egg-type bird ages, there is a corresponding decrease in eggshell pigment intensity. The exact reason for this is unknown. It is possibly due to the same quantity of pigment being dispersed over a larger surface area of shell as egg size increases with bird age or less pigment synthesis. As the hen ages it is normal for the tapered end of the egg to contain less pigment than the rounded end. Stress-related egg retention in the shell gland and subsequent amorphous calcium carbonate deposition on the shell surface have been identified as a major cause of pale eggs in older hens.

I also asked this question in a post this morning, and silkielover told me her birds had lighter eggs as they get older.

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