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Egg yolks vary in colour from dark orange to almost white and this variation is almost entirely due to the pigments in the chicken’s food. A diet rich in pigments will produce eggs with darker yolks. Hens consuming yellow corn or alfalfa meal will lay eggs with medium-yellow yolks, while those on a diet of wheat or barley tend to lay the eggs with the lightest-coloured yolks.
Dark orange, light orange or pale creamy-coloured yolks all contain the same nutritional value. But to get the best from your egg, you need to think about the white, not just the yolk; the nutritional content is split, so eat it all up.
During the summer months when hens spend more time outdoors, they tend to eat more seeds, grasses and bugs in addition to their regular feed. This may contribute to darker yolks but it does not affect the nutritional value of the eggs at all.
Some people think that eggs with darker yolks have a stronger flavour. We’ve tried all sorts of eggs with different coloured yolks cooked in all different ways and we haven’t noticed any difference in taste so far.
No yolk colour is better than any other and is no indication of nutritional content. Darker yolks may be the result of the hen’s diet being higher in Omega 3 but the only real difference is how good it will look on your plate when it’s cooked.
Yolk colour does not change as eggs age. Dark yolks are perfectly safe to eat. If you’re not sure, give them a sniff. Whether raw or cooked, your nose will be able to tell you if your eggs are still good or not.
The colour of your egg yolks is no indication of freshness. To determine how fresh your eggs are and if they are still OK to eat, you should try the eggs test.
Find out more about RSPCA Assured free-range eggs and see how hens' feather colour influences the colour of the eggshell.
You can find out more about the higher welfare standards of hens on RSPCA Assured farms.