Two years ago I noticed that several mainstream magazines, including Gourmet, published little factoids stating that brown hens lay brown eggs and that white hens lay white eggs. Did they not know, I wondered, that there are hens with feathers like this?
I contacted Gourmet Magazine to find out where they got their information. I was not surprised that it came from an egg lobbying group. If you go to the United Egg Producer’s web site it states: The breed of the chicken determines shell color of an egg—the white hens lay white eggs and the brown hens lay brown eggs. Which is true, I suppose at commercial egg facilities (I refuse to call them “farms”) where there are only two types of chickens – white and brown.
However, it is not true for this beautiful La Fleche hen. (She looks sweet even with that devil-horn comb!) Her feathers are black and yet she lays white eggs.
How do I know she lays white eggs? That fleshy patch of skin below her eye is her ear lobe. It’s white, so her eggs will be white.
This Wyandotte’s ear lobes are dark-skinned and so she’ll lay brown eggs.
Blue and green egg layers also have dark ear lobes – which can be hard to see under an Araucana’s muff.
The misinformation that the United Egg Producers send out irks me. It’s a subtle and effective propaganda used to get the consumer to see chickens as boring, uniform manufacturers of eggs. It further separates them from the animals that make their food.
Which is a shame, since it’s a colorful and wonderful world out there if you know where to look.