Egg Color/Ear Color

A few years ago a marketing arm of an industrial egg producers group put out a press release stating “brown chickens lay brown eggs and white chickens lay white eggs.” This erroneous factoid got into such prestigious magazines as Gourmet. While it is certainly true on factory farms, where there are only white or brown hens, that produce only white or brown eggs, it is certainly not true anywhere else. Actually, there is no correlation between feather color and egg color. Although wouldn’t that be fun, if, for example, my black and white hen Veronica laid black and white eggs?

Cuckoo Marans


There is, however, some correlation between egg color and earlobe color. The rule of thumb is that a white-lobed hen lays white eggs, while red-lobed hen lays brown eggs. People love to hear this bit because it sounds so outlandish. No one even thinks about a hen’s ears! Unlike many animals, the chicken’s ears don’t stick out, and they are somewhat covered by swirls of small feathers. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Although the entrance to the ear is hidden, you can often see the earlobe, which is a patch of soft skin. In some hens it’s obvious, and in some it’s not.

Twiggy’s white lobe is that blob to the lower left of her eye. Note that it is white and she does indeed lay white eggs.

white leghorn


Like Twiggy, Opal has white feathers, but her earlobe is red, and she lays brown eggs.

Delaware hen


If the white ear/white egg correlation held true, then Misty would produce white eggs. She is a Blue Andalusian, which the books say have white earlobes, thus the “rule” says that she will lay white eggs. There are her earlobes. White.

Andalusian hen


Oh, wait. On a closer look, Misty’s earlobes are tinged with blue. This does not mean that she lays a blue egg. The egg that she does lay has a faint beige tint to it. Here it is on the top front row on the left. Twiggy’s pure white egg is next to it.

vintage egg carrier


And what of the eggs that are neither white nor brown? What of blue, olive, green and chocolate? What of eggs with speckles? A fairly accurate rule is that hens with white lobes are limited to laying white eggs, but hens with reddish lobes can lay brown eggs, or eggs of other colors. (Yes, I am aware of hens with black lobes, and rare white-lobed hens that lay brown eggs, but I am trying for a sensible clarification here!)

The best known of the colorful egg laying breeds are the Araucanas and Americaunas. These chickens have reddish lobes – not that you can easily see them under their muffs and tufts! This is Beatrix. She lays dusky blue eggs. (The blue eggs in the above photo were laid by Owly.)


In true, there is a far wider variation in feather color, egg color, and earlobe color than any “rules of thumb” or marketing board press releases would have you think. I say, embrace that diversity. It makes the chicken yard, and the world, a much more interesting place.


  1. A lot of people, only familiar with the commercial breeds, think that chickens only come in red or white. Boy, are they wrong.

  2. The color of the eggs make for a nice display, but I feel it’s what is inside that is most important!! MMM nothing beats a fresh egg!!

      • We are also a big fan of eggs and fried taters for dinner at our house. Our hens are cooperating by laying 3 eggs a day now. I am looking forward to next month when they all get going again, hopefully…….

  3. Of course, a cool vintage egg carrier like that is now on my “must have” list. Is it a flea market find?

  4. I love the chocolate brown one! WOW! Is that the Maran that lays those?

  5. I find all the info on the eggs very interesting. Who layed that beautiful chocolate colored egg? Very stunning. Seeing the hens pics just makes me happy. They all are so beautiful and sweet. I must be a chicken nut. I hope some of your readers have baby chicks coming this year. I can’t wait for the posts. I will miss not anticipating the little babies. It was so much fun last year. I thought I was going to blow a gasket when I saw Steve and Jacob putting your little chicks in the brooder. What a great surprise that day! Hope all at Little Pond are staying warm.

  6. One of my friends in high school had Araucanas. I loved checking out the eggs! I had spent my first 11 1/2 years in Long Beach, CA and had NO idea that eggs could come in colors! And NO idea just how nasty and protective a rooster could be either! Their chickens free ranged for most of the day and that roo never let anything get those hens! (I appear to be in an exclamatory frame of mind! :) )

  7. I’m sure you would be happy if Veronica laid a black and white egg…or any egg for that matter! Maybe she thinks she is a rooster and exempt from egg-laying instead of the head hen? Finally my soft egg layer, Scarlet, is molting and has stopped laying this month but my other Barred Rock hen, Amelia, has molted and continued to lay an egg every three days. She lays lovely brown eggs and sometimes they are speckled. I thought there was a correlation between leg and egg color for the blue layers…the more slate colored the legs, the bluer the eggs?

    • This is what I learned, too — that if a chicken’s legs are green or blue, that chicken will lay green or blue eggs regardless of the earlobe color.

      We have 3 brown-egg-laying ladies now, but I can’t wait to expand to new colors in the future. :)

  8. Actually I see red, white and blue on Misty’s earlobe. I expect star-spangled things from her in the future. Onward to greatness, Misty! :)

  9. Wow what a cute photo of Beatrix. My welsummer lays an egg like your Jasper’s. much darker thn my marans egg. My marans eggs vary from day to day in color and speckling. But all my other hens are consistent size and color.

  10. I know this was a long shot, but went back and reviewed how many copper/cuckoo marans you had bought last year and saw that their was just Veronica and her sister Millie who went to the nursing home. So I know you have seen Millie and was wondering if the nursing home staff have ever found a dark chocolate colored egg to confim that Millie has lays, or is like her sister Veronica and never has ?

  11. Cream Legbars have white earlobes, but lay blue eggs. :)

    I love having eggs of all shades.

  12. Industrial egg and meat producers love to tell half truths. They would love to eliminate backyard flocks if they could as well. They fear we will bring some disease in a wipe out their flocks.

    Fresh eggs nothing better!!!!. A few months back I took my son, DIL and grandson to a local greasy spoon for breakfast. I don’t know what I was thinking but I ordered two eggs sunny side up. I poked that yoke with my toast and out ran the yolk the color of a Post it Note. YUKE!!!!! Needless to say I couldn’t eat them.
    The waitress asked me if something was wrong and I politely said “no I’m just full from the waffles” What this restaurant is known for anyway.

    • It doesn’t have to be a greasy spoon. I ordered a salad at an expensive NYC restaurant because it had eggs in it. From my perspective, the eggs were inedible.

  13. Your eggs are beautiful! Nothing is better than freshly gathered eggs.

  14. I also read this but found with my girls it doesn’t hold true. Bluebell a chalkhill blue did start out with blue lobes but they soon changed to pink with a bit of white streaking and she lays blue eggs. Treacle who I sadly lost had pink lobes and laid chocolate coloured eggs.The dominiques have pink lobes and lay white eggs. My bantam vorwerks have turquoise lobes but lay the same white eggs as the dominiques. When I say white they are a slightly pink hue so maybe cream. But the dominiques and the banty vorwerks eggs are the same colour despite quite different ear lobe colour and the bantys have grey legs throwing out that theory too. It is all quite fascinating though.