Do white hens lay white eggs?

Do white chickens lay white eggs and brown chickens brown eggs?
It’s a common misconception that the colour of a bird’s feathers influences the colour of the eggs that they lay. The truth is feather colour has no relation to eggshell colour.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs?
Several studies have found that shell colour has no significant effect on egg quality and composition.

What is the difference between white and brown eggs?
While diet and lifestyle can make slight differences to eggshell colour, the real deciding factor in colour is genetics. Certain breeds will lay eggs with darker shells, while others will lay eggs with lighter shells, and others will even lay eggs with a greenish-blue hue. But the only difference between these eggs of a different colour is the pigment in the shell.

Which chicken breeds lay white eggs?
Many breeds of chicken lay white eggs, the most popular include White Leghorn, Andalusian, Polish, Ancona, Egyptian Fayoumis, Hamburg and California White.

On RSPCA Assured egg-laying farms, most eggs come from commercial hybrid hens such as Lohmann Brown Classic, Hyline Brown, Brown Plus, Silverbrown, Bovans Brown, Shaver Brown, H & N Brown Nick, British Blacktail and Lohmann Brown Lite.

Why are organic eggs brown?
Eggs labelled organic are not necessarily brown. The colour of the eggs is entirely dependent on the breed of hen from which the eggs come and frequently the breeds raised on organic farms are those which lay brown eggs.

Breeds that lay brown eggs include White Plymouth Rocks, Black Australorps, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Single Comb Rhode Island Whites, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Welsummers, Buff Orpingtons, and hybrids like Bovan Browns, Hy-line Browns and Lohmann Browns.

Are blue eggs safe to eat?
Yes, blue eggs are perfectly safe to eat. The blue hue is once again simply the pigment in the shell and entirely dependant on the breed of chicken. Breeds that lay blue eggs are the Araucana, Ameraucana, Dongxiang and Lushi. None of these breeds can be found on RSPCA Assured farms as pure breeds but they may be present as crossbreeds.

What are the healthiest eggs to eat?
The colour of the eggshell does not affect the health value of the egg inside. All eggs are high in protein and relatively low in cholesterol making them a healthy choice when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

As you might imagine, chickens’ diets and lifestyle can affect the composition of eggs. Hens with more access to sunlight lay eggs that contain more vitamin D, making free-range eggs higher in vitamin content. Hens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids will produce eggs that contain much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Are white eggs better?
White eggs come from certain breeds of chicken meaning that they are no better than their brown counterparts, only a different colour.

Why is Tesco selling white eggs?
Prior to the first national lockdown in 2020, the majority of white eggs were used by a very large restaurant chain, when the pandemic caused that chain of restaurants to close, the eggs which had been intended for restaurant use made their way to supermarket shelves.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs?
One of the major misconceptions around brown eggs is that they are healthier than white ones. This myth probably originates from the association people have with darker, whole grain foods being less refined and more natural, and therefore healthier to consume. While this may be true for wheat, bread, rice and sugar it is not the case with eggs.

Why do we not get white eggs anymore?
We are now seeing white eggs appear in our supermarkets more often. The reason we see fewer white eggs is due to the ratio of chicken in the UK. It is estimated that of the 40m egg-laying birds in the UK, only about 250,000-300,000 are breeds that lay white eggs.

Are white eggs better?
Whether eggs are brown, white, blue or even green has no bearing on their quality and more importantly it says nothing about the living conditions of the birds that laid them. What is far more important to look for is the label on the egg box. Does it say the eggs are free-range? By looking for the RSPCA Assured logo when buying eggs you can be sure the birds that laid them lived a better life, cared for to higher welfare standards.

Why do brown eggs taste better?
To date, there has been no evidence that brown eggs taste any different from their white counterparts. However, there are some factors that may affect taste such as a diet rich in protein compare to a low-fat diet.

Do eggs need to be refrigerated?
Eggs do not need to be refrigerated, they can also be kept quite safely in the cupboard. What is important is to try and maintain a constant temperature, so you need to decide whether are you an eggs-in-the-cupboard or an eggs-in-the-fridge household.

Why do brown eggs cost more?
Since there is no real difference between brown and white eggs, any variation in price is merely due to production times and supply and demand. The slightly higher cost of brown eggs has no doubt contributed to the myth that they are of higher quality.

What do different egg yolk colours mean?
For more information on what different egg yolk colours mean see our page on differences in egg yolk colour.

How do I know if my eggs are still good to eat?
There's an easy way to see if your eggs are still good to eat. Try the simple egg test.

What do different egg yolk colours mean? 
Discover what different colour egg yolks mean and find more about RSPCA Assured free-range eggs.

About the author

Jodie Adam

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Digital Communications Manager. 

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