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Can olive eggers lay pink eggs?

Olive eggers are a popular backyard chicken breed known for laying eggs in shades of green, olive, and sometimes even pink. But can olive eggers really lay pink eggs? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the genetics behind olive egger egg color and find out if pink eggs are truly possible from this breed.

What Are Olive Eggers?

Olive eggers are a hybrid chicken breed that do not breed true. They are the result of crossing a hen of brown egg laying heritage (such as a Marans, Welsummer, Barnevelder, or Pendesenca) with a rooster of blue egg laying heritage (normally an Ameraucana or Araucana).

The offspring of this cross produce eggs in a beautiful olive green shade. The color results from a blending of the brown pigment from one parent and blue from the other. Since olive eggers are hybrids, their offspring may not lay the same egg color and can range from blue to olive to brown.

Olive Egger Egg Genetics

The main factor that determines egg color in chickens is pigment deposition. All chickens lay white eggs initially. But some breeds carry genes that cause pigments to be deposited onto the eggshell as the egg develops in the oviduct.

There are two main pigments that contribute to egg color:

  • Brown pigment (protoporphyrin)
  • Blue or green pigment (biliverdin)

Brown egg layers have genes controlling protoporphyrin deposition. Blue egg layers have genes controlling biliverdin deposition. Olive eggers, with one parent from each heritage, inherit genes influencing both pigments.

The concentration and distribution pattern of these two pigments is what creates the kaleidoscope of egg colors seen in olive eggers. More brown pigment results in olive or brown eggs. More blue/green pigment results in aqua or greenish eggs.

What Causes Pink Eggs?

Pink or reddish eggs are possible from chickens that produce brown eggs. The pink color results from a high concentration of brown protoporphyrin pigment being deposited on the eggshell.

Certain breeds that lay dark brown eggs, like Marans, can occasionally produce pinkish eggs. But it takes very specialized genetics. Both the hen and the rooster must carry genes for heavy protoporphyrin deposition in order for pink eggs to be likely.

Can Olive Eggers Lay Pink Eggs?

Because olive eggers inherit their brown egg laying genes from breeds like Marans, it is possible for them to lay pink eggs. However, it is quite rare.

For an olive egger to lay pink eggs, both parents must not only have brown egg laying heritage, but also the specific genetics for heavy protoporphyrin deposition causing dark brown or pink eggs. The odds of this combining in an olive egger are very low.

Additionally, the blue/green pigment from the olive egger’s other parent can sometimes inhibit or alter the appearance of pink coloration. Most olive eggers with the genetics to produce some pink pigment will lay eggs that appear olive, brown, or dark copper instead.

Examples of Pink Eggs from Olive Eggers

While uncommon, there are some documented examples of olive eggers laying pinkish eggs:

  • A breeder named John Blehm reported olive eggers laying eggs from light pink to dark chocolate brown. The hens inherited genetics from their Marans grandfather who also laid dark reddish eggs.
  • Photos shared on backyard chicken forums show olive eggers producing eggs from pink to maroon, likely from a Barnevelder or Welsummer heritage.
  • Some olive eggers with Easter Egger heritage (Araucana/Ameraucana mix) post eggs with a slight pinkish hue.

So while pink eggs are not out of the question for olive eggers, they seem to occur infrequently. Most report eggs in green, blue, brown, or olive shades from this hybrid breed.

Factors That Impact Olive Egger Egg Color

As we’ve discussed, getting pink eggs from an olive egger requires special genetics from both parents. But there are some other factors that can influence the final egg color:

  • Diet – A diet high in yellow/orange plant pigments like marigolds canaccentuate both brown and blue hues.
  • Season – Egg color often intensifies in the summer with more sunlight to impact pigment development.
  • Age – Young hens tend to lay lighter eggs with color darkening as they mature.
  • Individual hen – No two olive eggers will lay the same exact shade.

So diet, environment, age, and the individual bird can all play a small role in the final egg color, along with genetics.

Breeding for Pink Eggs

If pink eggs are your goal, the most reliable way is to breed over multiple generations selecting for dark brown egg color. Breeds like Barnevelders, Marans, and Welsummers have the required genetics. Choosing breeders with darker egg color can help intensify pink hues over time.

You can also cross a dark brown breed like Marans to a blue egg layer. Selecting offspring that lay olive eggs with a pink tint, and breeding those birds together over successive generations may yield more pink eggs. This is a long-term breeding project to concentrate those special pink-egg-laying genetics.


While olive eggers occasionally produce pink eggs thanks to their genetics, it is relatively uncommon. Getting pink or reddish eggs requires just the right combination of heritage from both parents – normally a brown egg layer prone to high protoporphyrin concentrations. Breeding specifically for pink eggs takes generations but can be done by selecting darker brown layers to cross.

The wide range of egg colors from olive eggers is part of their charm and appeal. You may luck out with the occasional pink one, but green, blue, and brown shades are far more likely from this fun hybrid breed!