For people who raise chickens, the color of chicken eggs matters more than you would think. While most eggs at your local grocery store range from off-white to deep brown, chickens can lay eggs in various colors such as blue. Though this is an unusual color for chicken eggs, it’s common for some breeds to produce them. The blue color is a result of overlying pigments, and it’s a trait that has been selectively bred into certain chicken breeds over generations. Some people love the novelty of finding blue eggs in their chicken coop, while others prefer the traditional egg colors.
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What Causes the Blue Color of Chicken Eggs?
The color of a chicken’s eggs is determined by its genes, similar to how hair and eye color are determined in humans. Scientific studies have found that the blue color of chicken eggs is a result of a dominant gene. This means that a hen can produce blue eggs if she inherits the potential for it from only one parent.
Different Shades of Blue Eggs
Just like regular chicken eggs, blue eggs also come in many shades. Some eggs may appear pale blue-green while others can be a deeper, darker blue. The shade of blue is determined by the amount of overlying pigment on the base color of the egg shell which is either white or blue.
Is It Possible to Predict if a Chicken Will Lay Blue Eggs?
Chicken egg colors can be unpredictable, especially if the chicken is a mixed breed. For instance, Rhode Island Red chickens usually lay brown eggs, while Light Sussex Rhode Island chickens lay pale brown eggs. However, if a hen inherits the blue egg gene from both its parents, it will produce blue eggs. The egg color genetics in chickens can be quite complicated since the color isn’t determined by one gene alone but by multiple genes.
If the rooster that fertilizes the eggs is a Crested Cream Legbar with two copies of the blue egg gene on its Z chromosome, then even the male’s offspring will have the potential to lay blue eggs. However, the genetics of egg color are not fully understood, so the egg colors of mixed-breed chickens can be an interesting surprise.
Blue vs. Green Eggs
A chicken egg’s base color is either blue or white. The darker brown or green shades on eggs are formed by the addition of pigments that overlay the base color, and they appear a few hours before the egg is laid. A mixed breed batch of hens may result in delightfully colorful eggs, such as blue or green eggs.
For instance, one of the writer’s mixed breed hens lays pure blue eggs, and two hens lay green ones. The assumption that the green egg-laying hen should have pigment in her feathers is incorrect since a speckled hen lays blue eggs. Understanding the genetics behind egg color will help you learn about which breeds have the potential to lay blue eggs.
The mystery of egg color genetics may still need scientific exploration, but it’s always delightful to have a surprise waiting for you every time you collect your chicken’s eggs.