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Which chickens lay the most colorful eggs?

When it comes to egg color variety, certain chicken breeds stand out as top egg color producers. The eggs from these chickens can range from pale tints to rich, vibrant hues thanks to pigments deposited on the eggshell as the egg develops. But what chicken breeds lay the most colorful eggs of all?

What causes egg color variation?

The primary factors that influence egg color are the breed and genetics of the hen. The color comes from pigments that are deposited on the eggshell as the egg develops in the oviduct. The main pigments responsible for egg color are:

– Protoporphyrin – produces brown pigment
– Biliverdin – produces blue-green pigment
– Oocyanin – produces blue pigment

Some breeds have genes that result in higher levels of these pigments being deposited on the eggshell. The production of each pigment can also be influenced by factors like stress, diet, environment and hen age. But genetics play the biggest role in which pigments are produced and how much of each is deposited on the egg.

Chicken breeds that lay colorful eggs

Here are some chicken breeds that are known for laying eggs in a diverse range of colors:


The Ameraucana breed originated in the United States and was developed from Araucana chickens brought from Chile. It does not have the breeding problems associated with the Araucana. Ameraucanas lay blue or green eggs. The blue egg color comes from the pigment oocyanin.


The Araucana comes from Chile and is known for laying blue-shelled eggs. The blue color comes from the pigment oocyanin. However, Araucanas can be tricky to breed and hatch as the gene for blue eggs is linked to a lethal gene that can kill chicks in the shell.


This French breed lays chocolate brown eggs due to higher levels of protoporphyrin pigment. The darker the brown, the higher the concentration of protoporphyrin deposited on the shell. There are also White Marans that lay light brown eggs.


Barnevelders from Holland lay beautiful dark brown eggs. The brown color results from a high level of protoporphyrin pigment.


This Dutch breed is also an excellent layer of reddish-brown eggs due to high protoporphyrin deposits. The color can range from light brown to almost coppery dark red.

Cream Legbar

Cream Legbars from Britain lay blue eggs resulting from biliverdin pigment. The blue color is lighter than Araucana eggs.

Easter Egger

Easter Eggers are a mixed breed that includes Araucana or Ameraucana heritage. They lay blue, green or pinkish eggs resulting from the oocyanin and biliverdin pigments.

Olive Egger

Olive Eggers are a cross between a dark brown egg layer like a Marans or Barnevelder and a blue egg layer like an Ameraucana. This results in an olive green egg color, combining the brown and blue pigments.

Breed Egg color(s) Pigment(s) responsible
Ameraucana Blue, green Oocyanin, biliverdin
Araucana Blue, green Oocyanin, biliverdin
Marans Chocolate brown Protoporphyrin
Barnevelder Dark brown Protoporphyrin
Welsummer Reddish brown Protoporphyrin
Cream Legbar Blue Biliverdin
Easter Egger Blue, green, pink Oocyanin, biliverdin
Olive Egger Olive green Protoporphyrin, oocyanin

Most colorful eggs

When it comes to the widest variety of egg shell colors produced, Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers top the list:

Easter Eggers

As a mixed breed, Easter Eggers display a wonderful diversity of egg colors. While blue is most common, they can also lay green, pink, purple, brown and more. The blend of genetics from their Ameraucana and Araucana heritage leads to an unpredictable rainbow of egg color possibilities.

Olive Eggers

Olive Eggers also show a beautiful range of egg colors from their blend of genetics. By crossing a brown egg layer like a Marans with a blue egg layer like an Ameraucana, Olive Eggers produce an amazing olive green egg. But they can also lay blue, brown, pink, purple and other green shades. The olive green is most prized, but the variety is remarkable.

When it comes to the deepest, most vibrant single egg color, breeds like Marans, Welsummer and Barnevelder stand out for their rich chocolate brown and reddish-brown eggs saturated with protoporphyrin pigment.

Ameraucanas and Araucanas lay the brightest blue eggs thanks to high levels of oocyanin pigment deposited on the shell. Cream Legbars also lay a lighter blue egg with biliverdin pigment.

So in summary:

For most color variety: Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers
Deepest brown eggs: Marans, Welsummer, Barnevelder
Brightest blue eggs: Ameraucana, Araucana, Cream Legbar

The genetics and breeding of the individual hen are the biggest determining factors when it comes to colorful eggs. Choosing breeds known for egg color diversity, like Easter Eggers, is a good place to start for a rainbow coop of vibrant egg layers.

Factors influencing egg color

While breed and genetics determine the pigments responsible for egg color, other factors can impact the actual color that develops:

Hen age – Younger hens tend to lay lighter colored eggs. As they mature, the shade darkens and intensifies. Shell color continues to deepen into the second season of lay.

Stress – Stress can reduce pigment production, leading to lighter or duller egg color. Reducing stressors like predators, overcrowding and heat supports better color.

Diet – Nutrition provides the building blocks for egg color pigments. Key nutrients for color include xanthophylls, protein, zinc, copper and iron. A balanced layer feed supports maximum color.

Environment – Extreme heat, cold or moisture can impact pigment deposition and cause lighter or odd colored eggs. Shelter and climate control helps ensure ideal conditions.

Health issues – Sickness, parasites or molting may reduce pigment production and lead to paler eggs. Good health management prevents these problems.

While these factors can influence the intensity of egg color, the hen’s breed remains the key determinant of which pigments are produced and what color varieties are possible. Focusing on breeds with color genetics built-in is the starting point for collecting colorful eggs.


When it comes to colorful eggs, certain breeds like Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, Ameraucana, Araucana, Marans, Barnevelder and Welsummer are standouts. By selecting hens with superior color genetics, you can end up with a beautiful rainbow of eggs in shades of blue, green, brown, pink and more. The depth and variety of egg color will amaze you when you choose the right breeds for your flock. A rainbow coop full of the best egg color layers will fill your baskets with stunning hues.