What Chickens Lay Purple Eggs?
When raising chicken, few things will make you as excited as seeing a beautiful array of eggs in your nest box. To some farmers, the color of their eggs is a non-issue, but others want an assortment in all rainbow colors. You might have heard about colored eggs and wonder what you can do to influence the egg color of your chickens.
Egg color is exclusively determined by the genetics of both parents. However, you can predict the ones you will get by looking at your chicken breed. In general, birds of the same breed have the same egg color. Some farmers also consider a chicken’s earlobes to tell its egg color.
Though not foolproof, most birds with white earlobes lay white eggs, while those with red earlobes often get brown eggs. Nonetheless, this does not apply to hybrid chicken.
You might have heard about purple chicken eggs and wondered about this phenomenon. Below are a few answers that will explain these colored eggs.
What Chicken Breeds Lay Purple Eggs?
Sadly, no breed of chicken will lay truly purple eggs because purple is not a natural color of eggs. Chicks are not able to lay eggs. It takes some time for them to mature and produce eggs. It can take about 26 hours for one egg to form in the chicken’s body. This explains why most chicken breeds will only lay eggs a few times weekly rather than daily.
It will take about 20 hours to form an eggshell and an extra five hours to develop its pigmentation. Initially, all the eggs will be white. They change color because of an internal dyeing process. Some chicken breeds have pigments that make their eggshells colored.
The outer shells are the only ones colored on most eggs. The common colors include blue, green, and brown, with various shades between them but not purple.
Why Do Some Chicken Eggs Look Purple?
If you come across a purple egg, its bloom is probably to blame. Bloom is the protective outer layer of an egg that keeps bacteria from entering the egg and helps it stay fresh. You will most likely notice a purplish tinge on a brown egg. The tinge can usually be washed off. Even so, if you want to incubate or hatch the egg, do not wash it off. The bloom is essential to keep the chick healthy.
The Natural Colors of Chicken Eggs
White, brown, cream, pink, green, and blue are some natural colors your eggs might have. Here is more information on these colors.
– White Eggs
A white crystal called calcium carbonate is what makes all chicken eggshells. This means that all eggs are white when they start forming. Your egg will remain white when there are no pigments deposited on it as it moves through the hen’s oviduct. Most Mediterranean breeds will lay white eggs.
Fortunately, most of the chickens in these breeds are smaller, need less food, and are easier to care for. Some of the chicken breeds that produce white eggs include Altsteirer, Egyptian Fayoumi, Hamburg, Ancona, Andalusian, Ayam Cemani, Augsburger, Brakel, Bresse, Campine, Dutch Bantam, Leghorn, Poland, Sussex, Vorwerk, and White Star.
– Brown Eggs
The brown color of a chicken egg comes from a pigment called protoporphyrin IX. This resembles the haem group that makes part of the hemoglobin in human blood. Your hemoglobin contains iron that gives blood its red color. On the other hand, there is no iron on eggshells. This is why eggs are brown rather than bright red.
The protoporphyrin is deposited on the outer layer of the shell on the calcium carbonate late in the egg formation process. As such, even eggs with brown shells will be white on the inside. If you want dark brown eggs, settle for Welsummer, Maran, Penedesenca, and Barnvelder breeds.
The Barnvelder breed from Holland is a crossbreed of Brahmas and Cochins. It is among the best breeds when you want a steady flow of colorful fresh eggs laying over 180 dark brown eggs annually.
– Cream Eggs
Sometimes, you can get eggs that are neither completely white nor truly brown. Cream eggs are actually light brown with a light deposit of protoporphyrin on their outer shells. Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, Cinnamon Queens, Yokohamas, Asils, Faverolles, Orpingtons, Silkies, Dorkings, and Golden Comets produce light to medium brown eggs.
– Pink Eggs
Protoporphyrin IX is responsible for the cream-pink color of eggs. A few chicken owners report that their pink eggs sometimes turn brown when washed and then become pink on drying. This might be because the same pigment makes brown and pink eggs.
Pink eggs have also been attributed to the cuticle or bloom, a natural coating sealing the pores of eggshells. The most common breed from which you can get pink eggs is the Easter Egger. This breed lays eggs of varying colors, including brown, green, pink, and blue.
– Green Eggs
If you crossbreed a blue and brown layer, you will likely get a green egg. This is because the protoporphyrin IX layer will be deposited on a blue oocyanin shell. This means that a green egg will have a blue inner shell because the blue is deposited first.
If the brown pigment is too dark, the egg will look olive rather than a vibrant green. Isbars, Easter Eggers, Favaucanas, and Olive Eggers lay green eggs. The Favaucana is a crossbreed between the Faverolles that lays light brown eggs and the Ameraucana with blue eggs.
– Blue Eggs
The blue color for eggs follows the depositing of a bilirubin by-product known as oocyanin on the shell. Unlike other pigments, oocyanin will permeate through an egg’s entire shell because it is applied earlier in the egg-laying process. This means the inside and outside of the shell will be blue.
Cream Legbars, Araucanas, and Ameraucanas are the three popular chicken breeds that lay blue eggs. Araucanas and Ameraucanas are pure breeds, while Cream Legbars are cross breeds. Araucanas lay the bluest eggs among the three because of an oocyan gene, a gene mutation attributed to a retrovirus.
These chickens evolved in Chile and are the descendants of all blue egg-laying breeds. Some Easter Eggers also lay blue eggs.
Can Your Hen Lay Different Colored Eggs?
No, your hen will only lay eggs in one color, unlike the yolks, whose colors can change because of changes in the diet. Though the tint of the eggshells depends on genetics, a hen will often lay lighter eggs as the laying season progresses. This is normal.
Nonetheless, your hen will also lay lighter eggs when stressed, aging, sick, or having a poor diet. Stress is often caused by excessive heat and predators, so keep your flock cool and protected from predators. To maintain the normal color of your eggshells, feed an egg-laying hen a good layer feed containing at least 16% protein content and give her plenty of water.
Collecting your eggs from the coop will be more exciting when you have eggshells in multiple colors. If you have been wondering what chicken lays purple eggs, the above information has hopefully answered you, and you can now extensively explain the phenomenon of colored eggs to others.
You now also know the breeds you should add to your flock when you want a specific egg color. Thankfully, colored eggs will not taste any different than regular white eggs. An egg’s taste depends on what you feed the hen rather than the shell’s color.