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Brown Eggs vs White Eggs

 What makes egg shells brown or white?

Eggs come in a variety of different shades as well as colours. Some appear a brilliant white; others have a creamy shell, some are beige or brown. Different chicken breeds naturally produce different coloured eggs. So, are brown eggs better? In reality, Brown eggs and White eggs are the same. Brown eggs don't taste any different, nor are they healthier. 

What makes eggs different colours?

All egg shells are naturally white - look inside the next time you crack a brown egg if you don't believe me! The outer colour of an egg is like a wash - it is caused by a pigment added to the shell of the egg just before it is laid.

Egg colour is determined by breed. Different breeds of hen produce different coloured eggs. While feather colour doesn't determine egg shell colour, earlobe colour can give you a hint. Chickens with white earlobes typically lay white eggs. Chickens with brown or red earlobes typically lay brown eggs.

Some popular chicken breeds that lay brown eggs include:

  • ISA Browns
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Sussex (can also be more creamy coloured)
  • Australorp
  • New Hampshire
  • Wyandotte
  • Welsummers
  • Marans

Leghorns are by far the most common white egg laying chicken breed, and are used in both commercial farms and backyard flocks. Minorca, Ancona and Hamburgs are other white egg breeds.

But there are also chickens that lay beautiful blue and green-toned eggs, like Aurucanas and Ameraucanas.

Are brown eggs better?

The short answer is no. Egg quality depends on how fresh the eggs are as well as the health and diet of the hen. A happy, healthy free-range hen with a high quality diet will always produce the best eggs, whether those eggs are brown or white or blue!

Do brown eggs taste better?

Generally, taste comes back to the age of the egg and the feed the chicken is eating. To get the most flavour from eggs, coop or pen chickens should eat:

  • An excellent nutritional pellet mix (not scratch seed mix)
  • Extra protein in small amounts, such as Dried Mealworms
  • A wide variety of greens

Free-range chickens will naturally consume some insects and plenty of forage greens on their own!

Are brown eggs healthier for you?

Brown and white eggs are identical nutritionally. Neither one is healthier for you. 

All eggs are healthy, but the diet of the hen determines how healthy eggs are, not the shell colour. Freshness is also important to get maximum nutrition.

Why are brown eggs more popular?

Egg colour preference is mostly based on misinformation. In fact, in some countries, white eggs are the preference, while in others brown eggs are preferred.

Many of the more common dual-purpose chicken breeds lay brown eggs. In the past, these breeds would have been produced on almost every farm and in many suburban backyards. Not only did they supply eggs, but excess roosters and spent hens would have been used for meat. Brown eggs were the norm, so when Australians stopped keeping chickens, they saw brown eggs in the supermarket as closer to home-grown. 

In Australia, we still expect that brown eggs are more natural or healthier. Unless it is in a rainbow dozen, you almost never see white eggs from local pastured or free-range egg producers. This is because egg producers know that consumers expect free-range eggs to be brown. And this is why in Australia, ISA Browns and other brown egg layers are much more common on commercial farms than Leghorns, which are one of the more popular commercial laying breeds in the USA.

Are brown eggs more expensive?

There are definitely exceptions to this rule. Often egg prices are the same regardless of colour, and are instead determined by egg size and the living conditions of the chickens. But brown eggs do generally come from larger chicken breeds than white eggs. Not only are the brown eggs likely to weigh a little more, large chickens cost more to feed and keep. For this reason, brown eggs require more to produce and may cost more.

Brown eggs vs White eggs - the choice is really up to you.

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