Buying eggs in the store can be a pretty dull experience. In the United States, white eggs line the shelves. At the same time, brown eggs dominate the market in Europe and many other parts of the world. Yet chickens have a rainbow of colored egg offerings.
Owning hens that can produce eggs in another color is fun, especially if you have kids or grandchildren. Other possibilities include pink, green, and the highly desired blue. But eggshell pigmentation has nothing to do with diet but genetics. So if you want blue eggs, you need to buy a blue laying breed.
Chickens that lay blue eggs include:
- Prairie Bluebell Egger
- Cream Legbars
- Easter Egger
- Ice Cream Bar chickens
- Whiting True Blue
Read on to find out which chickens lay blue eggs
9 Chickens That Produce Blue Eggs – Blue Egg-Laying Breeds
Hens all make eggs with the same internal assembly line. First, the yolk is formed in the ovary and eventually travels down the oviduct. It isn’t until the second to last stage, where the egg is hanging out in the chicken’s uterus, that the egg shells gains its pigment.
All chicken eggs begin as white eggs. However, depending on the genetics, some hens add a bit of pizzazz to the process. These colorful egg-laying chickens use biliverdin, a chemical compound often found in bruises, as a natural dye. In addition, darker eggs are thought to do better in colder regions, helping the nesting parent(s) keep them at the required incubation temperature.
However, the blue hue is thought to be primarily the fault of a retrovirus. The infection rewrote the DNA of the blue-laying ancestors, and the genetic quirk became hereditary. But the retrovirus is not present in the chickens or the eggs you eat.
In fact, the hen’s internal egg dying process only impacts the shell’s color. Thus, any child hoping to buy green eggs to reenact the famous Dr. Suess book, Green Eggs and Ham, will be disappointed.
However, if all you and the children in your life want are blue-laying hens, there are a variety of different breeds, mix-breeds, and unofficial breeds to choose from.
1. Ameraucana: A Free-Range And Friendly Blue Layer
True Ameraucanas lay medium light blue eggs. They produce about three to four a week. However, this breed is a late bloomer and doesn’t lay its first egg until 18-20 weeks old, sometimes far later. Their average weight is 5.5lbs (hen) and 6.5lbs (rooster). They forge well and are pretty apt at outsmarting predators.
Ameraucana chickens are a modern breed, becoming official in 1984, that hails from the Araucana. The purpose was to take the positives of the tufted Araucanas without carrying the genetic risks. Unfortunately, the Araucana has a tufting gene that pops up. While adorable, if both parents have it, their chicks almost always die before hatching.
Consequently, the Ameraucana has an adorable and puffy beard and muffs without the reproduction risks. Nor does the slightly hawkish look to its beak and eyes reflect the breed’s personality. These birds docile birds are gentle, intelligent (for a chicken), and friendly. But they do not enjoy cuddles or being cooped up. They are a choice for those that want free-ranging birds.
2. Araucana: A Native South American Blue Layer
Araucana chickens are an heirloom breed. South Americans raised them before colonialists arrived. The Mapuche Indians of Chile are believed to be behind their domestication. However, the breed isn’t popular in the United States as it requires knowledge on how to avoid pairing two birds with a gene anomaly. Most chicks will die before hatching if two with the specific gene are bred.
The true Araucana lacks a noticeable tail, thus often being referred to as “rumples,” and resembles a pheasant. They have a pea-type comb and often have two fluffy tuffs extending out from either side of their face as if feathery ears. (So cute.)
Araucanas weigh around 5lbs. They lay around three medium-sized robins-blue eggs per week. These are the bluest eggs known to chickens. Their temperament varies widely. This high-energy bird can be incredibly friendly and adore a cuddle, but some are nervous and wary. However, they do not have a reputation for being mean or aggressive.
Araucanas are cold and hot weather hardy, but not winter layers. They have a low risk of frostbite, thanks to their pea combs. This adaptive breed loves free-ranging and is good at keeping out of a predator’s reach.
3. Arkansas Blue Vs. Prairie Bluebell Egger: Blue egg-laying chickens
Legend has it the University of Arkansas developed the Arkansas Blue, crossing Leghorns with Araucana. But these birds are not easy to track down. But for those interested in the crossbreed, Hoovers Hatchery has developed their version: Prairie Bluebell Egger, a mix from White Leghorns with Araucana.
The Prairie Bluebell Egger produces an average of 240 light-blue eggs a year. However, they need to be at least 16 weeks before they produce an egg, some taking over six months. The chickens weigh four to five pounds and thrive in cold and hot weather. In addition, their pea comb makes them frostbite resistant.
These chickens love to forage and free-range but can handle being in a more traditional coop setting. They are considered active, alert, and friendly birds.
4. Cream Legbar: Laying Blue Eggs Since 1931
Cream Legbars or Crested Cream Legbars are a breed formed from a cacophony of chickens: Araucanas, Gold Penciled Hamburgs, Barred Rocks, and Leghorns. It was established as a breed in 1931. These birds are pretty popular in the United Kingdom, but their fans in the United States are growing.
They lay around four pastel blue eggs to slightly green per week. A typical hen weighs 5.5lbs and a rooster 7.5lb. The name comes from their plumage, not their eggs’ color. They are said to sport creamy and grey coats, which to non-chicken folks seems like a fancy way of saying white, with browns and black.
These chickens have some unique traits. For starters, they can easily be sexed. Thus, if you only want hens, you don’t have to stress that one of your girls will start crowing. They are also curious and voracious forgers, making them low-maintenance and highly independent. Thus, if you have to secure any beloved foliage and vegetables. The chickens are also pretty good at avoiding potential threats.
Cream Legbars are friendly and happy to hang out with other breeds. Thus, they are a great choice if you have children that like to hang out with chickens or want to diversify your flock.
5. Dongxiang: An Ancient Blue Laying Chicken
The Dongxiang chicken is an ancient breed of chicken that hails from China’s southern tropical region. They are tiny, with hens averaging 3lbs and roosters a mere 3.5lbs. They lay two to three eggs a week unless they’ve been cross bread with partridge, which can boost production to four.
These birds are known for having black skin in addition to their plumage. Thus, its meat is sold as “black chicken” and looks like charcoal has been added to the marinating rub.
Dongxiang is rarely found outside of China and is considered a rare breed in the USA; even in that country, they are generally only in that warmer region. So in all likelihood, anyone claiming to have a Dongxiang is lying, and it is another black breed bred with a common blue layer. Thus, while these birds are fascinating, it’s not going to be wandering the backyards of America any time soon.
6. Easter Egger: Potential Blue Layer
Easter Eggers are not a pure breed but a general type of colored-egg laying chickens that weigh 4lbs (hens) and 5lbs (roosters). Many of them lay blue eggs, but the blue color of the egg isn’t guaranteed. Easter Egger chickens might lay pink, dark green, light blue, or pastel green and are often called rainbow layers. While the eggs can differ in a flock, each hen will stick to her eggshell color egg for her lifespan. If you want green eggs consider olive egger chickens. They produce lovely olive-colored eggs.
Easter Eggers do not have one main look. Due to the lack of breeding standards, features from different chicken breeds of chickens pop up inconsistently. Thus, some have beards and muffs, there are chickens with tuffs, and they sport a variety of combs, although pea is the most common. However, their legs are featherless, and they sport four toes.
Easter Eggers are known as friendly chickens and make good backyard chickens. Like their blue-laying ancestors, they enjoy free-ranging, but they do okay being confined so long as they have enough to occupy them as these curious birds can get bored. They are also hardy and able to withstand heat and cold. Thus, they are a versatile and easy-going choice so long as you are okay with a potentially non blue egg layers.
7. Ice Cream Bar: A Modern Blue Laying hybrid chicken
Ice Cream Bar chickens (ICB) are a modern cross breed between the Isbar and Cream Legbar chickens. The Isbar can come from the Blue or the Swedish variation and is known for green eggs. As seen above, the Cream Legbar is known for pale blue eggs.
Thus, the Ice Cream Bar typically provides its owners with aqua eggs. Like their ancestors, they are good forgers and relatively docile. They are considered decent layers, averaging 240 eggs a year. They weigh around 5.5lbs (hen) and 7.5lbs (rooster).
8. Lushi: A Blue Or Pink Layer
Lushi is a Chinese chicken breed that lays one to two medium blue or pink eggs a week and is often raised for their meat. They weigh about 3lbs (hen) and 4lbs (rooster). These birds are not known outside of China. Information about them in English is sparse to non-existent. Thus, not an option for a typical American backyard chicken owner.
9. Whiting True Blue: Dr. Tom Whiting’s Blue Layer
Dr. Tom Whiting developed a heat-tolerant blue layer that produces medium to large pale blue eggs. They are a cross of Ameraucana and White Leghorn. They produce 280-300 eggs a year, making them good layers. They typically begin producing around five months old.
Uniquely, the hybrid breed was not designed for its fine blue egg production. Instead, Dr. Whiting was trying to create a rooster that grew hackle feathers perfect for fly tying. Yes, the man is a keen fisherman and was trying to improve his hobby, not the poultry business.
Nonetheless, after ten years of work, he succeeded in his goal and gave the world another blue-laying chicken option.
The Whiting is not known as a cuddly choice. Instead, they are said to be charismatic and energetic, enjoying their space. Thus, if you were hoping for a breed, your kids can happily carry around, this isn’t it. But if you’d like some good layers in blue, this is a good pick.
What Makes Blue Eggs Blue?
According to a study published in Nature Magazine: The genetic determination of blue egg shell coloration has been identified in Araucana chickens; it has been revealed that EAV-HP insertion promotes the expression of SLCO1B3 gene in the uterus of the oviduct in Araucana chickens, which causes blue egg shell formation.
Essentially there are certain breeds of chickens (many I have listed above) that carry this SLCO1B3 gene that changes the pigment secreted in the uterus to form a blue eggshell rather than white or brown.
Imagine the production of an egg to be a mechanical process.
At the beginning of an egg’s development, a fully developed ovum (egg yolk) will leave the chicken’s ovary, starting its journey through the oviduct.
A professor at the University of Georgia, Dr. Justin Fowler, from their poultry science department, describes the “creating of the egg color” during the whole egg production process.
The ovum undergoes five processes before being laid. The fourth stage is when the shell gland develops, and the shell gland determines the final color of the eggshell.
All eggshells start as being white, seeing the building blocks from which they form are calcium carbonate, a white crystal. After the white shell is formed, the egg continues moving through the oviduct. While traveling through the oviduct, color pigments get deposited on the eggshell.
Note that brown eggshells are white on the inside, and when you rub the egg, you may be able to remove pigment off its surface, proving the layer only appeared after the shell formation. Visualize this step as a car being spray painted.
The pigment that causes eggs to have green or blue shades is called biliverdin, and the pigment that provides reddish brown shades is called protoporphyrin.
What chickens lay the bluest eggs?
Did you know that all blue egg-laying breeds including the Easter Egger are descended from Araucanas which evolved in Chile? Araucana eggs are the bluest eggs known, and are caused by the oocyan gene SLCO1B3.
Do Blue Eggs Taste Different To White Eggs?
Blue eggs do not taste different from white eggs. Pink, green, and brown eggs also taste the same as their unpigmented brethren. This is because eggs are all made the same way and begin with a white shell. Their internal dying process is simply a delightful genetic quirk.
The taste of an egg can be impacted by a hen’s diet, the freshness of the egg, and how the eggs are prepared. There is also evidence that temperature storage can affect taste and texture.
In regards to preparation, season aside, the decision to beat an egg, thereby mixing the white with the yolk, will change the taste of an egg that remains with distinct different color sections. The change of flavor is due to the fats in the yolk making it richer than the albumen, the white part.
Are Blue Eggs Healthier Than White Eggs?
Blue eggs are not healthier than white or other colored eggs. Studies have demonstrated that the blue pigment in the shell does not change the nutritional quality of the inner egg. The genetic difference in hens and their different blue egg color only impacts the final stage of the egg’s development.
Why Do Some Scrambled Eggs Turn Blue Or Green?
Scrambled eggs sometimes change color, gaining a blue or green tinge. This same discoloration is sometimes seen on the yolk of a hardboiled egg. But the shift in hue has nothing to do with the chicken that laid the egg or the shell pigmentation.
When eggs are cooked at high temperatures, it can trigger a chemical reaction between sulfur and iron, resulting in a blue, green, or greenish-gray ring. The change of color is not dangerous and doesn’t necessarily impact the flavor. However, it is often a sign that the egg has been overcooked, and too much heat can change the meal’s texture and taste.
Blue-laying chickens add color to your egg harvest. These breeds also tend to be perfect for anyone who enjoys owning free-range flocks.
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.