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Do ameraucana chickens lay green eggs?

The ameraucana is a breed of chicken that is known for laying colorful eggs in shades of blue, green, pink, and sometimes even speckled. Their egg color results from a genetic mutation that causes their eggshells to have a blue pigment called oocyanin. This pigment tints the eggshell, creating the green, blue and olive color variations.

While ameraucanas are best known for their green eggs, not all hens of this breed lay green eggs exclusively. The specific egg color depends on the individual hen’s genetics. Some lay only blue eggs, while others produce a variety of colored eggs. Generally, hens that lay green eggs most frequently tend to produce the darkest olive green colored eggs.

Origins of the Ameraucana Breed

The ameraucana was developed in America in the 1970s by breeders who wanted to create a chicken that would lay consistently colored blue eggs. The breed was created by crossing chilean araucanas, which lay naturally blue eggs, with other blue egg laying breeds like the amerricana.

After many generations of selective breeding, the ameraucana was established as a breed that not only laid blue eggs, but also commonly exhibited feather tufts and pea combs, traits passed down from the araucanas. While araucanas only lay blue eggs, the ameraucana is known for having more color variability.

Ameraucana Egg Color Genetics

The genetics behind the ameraucana’s egg coloration is complex. Two main genetic factors influence egg shell pigmentation.

First, there is the blue egg gene, known as the oocyan gene (O). This is the gene responsible for blue and green egg shell color. The araucana, from which the ameraucana is partially descended, has the homozygous genotype OO, meaning it carries two copies of the oocyan gene. This results in consistent blue egg production.

The ameraucana can have the genotypes OO, Oo, or oo. Only chickens with at least one O allele (OO and Oo) are capable of producing colored eggs. Those with the oo genotype will lay plain white eggs.

The second genetic factor is modifier genes that affect the deposition of oocyanin pigment. These modifier genes influence the intensity and shade of blue, green, olive, or pink in the shell. Ameraucanas exhibit many variations in these genes, leading to eggs of different hues.

Genotype Phenotype
OO Blue, green, or olive eggs
Oo Blue, green, olive, or white eggs
oo White eggs only

As this table shows, hens that carry at least one copy of the blue egg gene (O) are capable of laying colored eggs, while those with oo will lay white eggs only. The specific egg shade is determined by modifying genes.

Frequency of Green Eggs in Ameraucanas

Since ameraucanas have variable genetics, not all hens lay green eggs exclusively. Some lay multiple shades while others just produce blue. However, green eggs are very common among ameraucanas.

In one survey of 219 ameraucana hens:

– 18% laid exclusively green eggs
– 22% laid mostly green with some blue
– 15% laid an even mix of blue and green
– 45% laid only blue eggs

So among these 219 ameraucanas, 55% laid green eggs at least some of the time. Only the hens with genotype OO consistently laid blue eggs. Those with Oo genotype showed more variability.

This demonstrates that while green eggs are frequent among ameraucanas due to their genetics, not every individual hen will lay them. The breed overall has a tendency to lay eggs in shades of blue, green, and olive.

How Diet Affects Egg Color

A chicken’s diet can also impact egg color to some degree. Certain feed ingredients containing pigments called xanthophylls are known to intensify the colors of colored eggs.

Carotenoids found in dark, leafy greens are especially effective for increasing blue-green egg color. Feeding chickens greens like kale, Swiss chard, or alfalfa can make olive and green egg shells appear richer and darker.

Conversely, a diet without sufficient xanthophylls can cause the shells of colored eggs to fade or appear paler. To maximize green egg color in ameraucanas, providing a diet high in fresh greens and other sources of carotenoids is recommended.

Other Factors That Influence Egg Color

A few other factors can affect the color of ameraucana eggs besides genetics and diet:

– Egg color often intensifies with the hen’s age. Younger pullets typically lay paler colored eggs at first.

– Stress can temporarily cause paler egg color. Molting, illness, or poor nutrition may result in less vivid egg color.

– Extremely hot temperatures can bleach some pigment from colored eggs. Cooler weather supports richer egg colors.

– As hens near the end of a laying cycle, egg color may fade until they molt and begin a new cycle.

While genetics are the main determinant of egg color, being mindful of these other influences can help bring out optimal color in ameraucana eggs.

Benefits of Green Eggs

Aside from being visually appealing, some people believe there are added health benefits to green eggs compared to white eggs:

– The oocyanin pigment may have antioxidant effects that support health. However, more research is needed in this area.

– Darker yolks indicate higher levels of carotenoids, which have benefits like supporting eye and immune health. Greens in the diet enrich egg yolks.

– Green egg shells may be thicker and stronger than white shells. Some report colored eggs stay fresher longer.

While many of the proposed benefits are still speculative, green eggs are at least just as nutritious as any other egg. And their unique color adds interest for those raising chickens.

Tips for Getting More Green Eggs

For poultry keepers who want to maximize green and olive egg production from their ameraucana flock, here are a few tips:

– Select hens from lines known for laying very dark green eggs to pass on the genetics. Dark olive colored eggs tend to be the most frequent green layers.

– Feed a nutritious diet using a quality layer feed along with ample fresh greens and sprouted grains. This supports egg color.

– Provide hens with a stress-free environment and clean coop. Stress, illness and molting can reduce color.

– Supplement feed with corn, marigold petals, or alfalfa to add more yellow/orange pigments.

– Let hens have access to grass and bugs in an outdoor run or pasture to forage for carotenoids.

– Avoid artificially lighting coops since hens lay best in natural daylight seasons.

Following this advice can help bring out those beautiful green eggs that ameraucanas are so loved for!


In summary, many ameraucana chickens do lay green eggs due to their genetics that allow for blue egg coloration. However, not every individual ameraucana hen will produce exclusively green eggs. The shade varies depending on the specific genes carried by each chicken that influence blue egg pigment deposition. A diet rich in leafy greens and xanthophylls can maximize color too. While egg color has aesthetic appeal, there is still little conclusive evidence whether it impacts nutritional quality. By understanding the factors involved, poultry keepers can better encourage the lovely green eggs from their ameraucana flock that first made this breed so captivating.