If white hens lay white eggs and brown hens lay brown eggs, what must the feathers of the green layer look like and why are there no black hen eggs?
Simply inferring the color of the eggshell from the plumage color does not work. But how does the chicken get its shell color?
In fact, only the genes are responsible for the coloring of the eggs. Nevertheless, there is also an optical feature that in many cases gives the right clue to the shell color.
How does the color get to the egg?
The shell gland in the hen’s oviduct is responsible for the coloring of the eggs. It ensures that color pigments are stored in the calcareous shell, which previously occurred as a breakdown product from blood or bile and is temporarily stored in the liver.
When all the pigments come together, the egg color is brown. If the hen lacks the gene responsible for the color formation, it lays white eggs.
Green chicken eggs are another variety of nature. The blood pigment passes through a number of color nuances during degradation, from blue to green to yellow, before it is stored.
While in hens that lay brown eggs this degradation runs to the end, in green-laying hens the degradation ends after the first stage. This is where the greenish pigment is stored directly in the limestone shell.
Eggshell color – a matter of genetics
Which of the three basic color genes (blue, brown, or white) is present in the respective chicken is already genetically anchored. Since genes are difficult to look at, and many old-time chicken breeders can still tell what color eggs a particular hen lays, there must be another way.
In fact, there are no psychic abilities involved here! It is a very specific physical feature that indicates with relative certainty whether a hen lays brown or white eggs. It is the earlobes that in most cases allow conclusions to be drawn about the eggshell color of the hens.
If the earlobes are red, the hen lays brown eggs; if the earlobes are white, it lays white eggs. Incidentally, green-laying hens also have red earlobes!
Things to know about green eggs
Green laying egg breed
If you want to breed green layers, you only need a green rooster. The green color gene dominates over the brown! The shell color of the hen is therefore irrelevant to the offspring. Both brown laying and white laying hens will produce green laying offspring when mated to a green laying rooster.
Green eggs are healthier?
Green chicken eggs are healthier because they are low in cholesterol or cholesterol-free. This assertion is very persistent but unfortunately not correct. The color of the shell has nothing to do with the “contents” of the egg, the shell only serves as packaging.
In fact, the opposite of low cholesterol is often the case with green chicken eggs, because the breed of chicken ( Araucan ) known for its green eggs has a particularly large yolk. If you take a look at the composition of the egg and its ingredients, it quickly becomes clear that a large yolk also contains more cholesterol.
Green eggs are not as stable
Unlike green and brown eggs, white eggs have one distinct disadvantage. They lack a bit of stability due to the lack of storage of the color pigments. White chicken eggs are therefore a little more sensitive when it comes to damage. Green chicken eggs, on the other hand, are just as stable as brown chicken eggs. The color storage has contributed to making the eggshell (more) unbreakable.
Breeds of chickens that lay green eggs
The only breed of chicken that reliably lays green eggs for generations is the Araucana. However, there are also many green-layer hybrids that also lay green eggs.
There are several breeds of chickens that lay green eggs. However, these are different color nuances, so not all breeds are referred to as “green layers”.
The only green layers that exist are the Araucana. It has been proven that they lay purely green eggs, over generations.
On the other hand, there are also “false” green-layers who also lay green eggs.
What are the differences?
The green egg color is genetic and is thus inherited. If an Araucana is now mated with a chicken of another breed, the green-layer gene is definitely passed on to the offspring and in turn to their offspring.
This is not the case with other breeds, which are often included among the green layers. The green gene can be passed on so that the following generation lays green eggs. However, subsequent offspring will usually lay brown or white eggs.
The strong dominance of the Araucana’s genes means that these green layers can be crossed with other breeds, creating many new shades of green.
Eggs of these breeds also have a shade of green
- Lavender Araucana
Distinguished by its blue plumage, described as “pearl grey”.
- Cream Legbar Crossing
the Araucana, this breed also lays blue eggs.