Eggs are jam-packed full of healthy nutrients and vitamins. They are a good source of protein, and offer an affordable addition to your everyday diet. Chicken eggs come in different colours and sizes, with brown and white eggs being the most common, and it is sometimes believed that brown eggs are healthier than white. Is this true? Let’s discover why eggs are different colours and whether brown eggs are healthier than white.  

Why are Eggs different colours?

Egg colours are determined by the breed of the laying hen. Both white and brown eggs are produced in the same way, by the yolk of the egg entering the oviduct of the hen, before moving along and gaining layers such as the egg white and shell. The only difference is that brown eggs receive a pigment at the end of the process. Brown eggs contain a pigment called protoporphyrin IX, that is not found in white eggshells.  You can tell what colour the eggs of a laying hen will be by looking at her earlobes and feather colours. Generally, chickens with brown feathers and brown earlobes will lay brown eggs while chickens with white feathers and pale earlobes will lay white eggs. Brown-feathered chickens are generally larger than white-feathered chickens. In South Africa, the majority of commercially farmed laying hens produce brown eggs. This is due to the type of poultry breeds that are commonly found throughout the country.

Are brown eggs more healthy than white?

The colour of the eggshell does not determine the nutritional value of the egg inside, and the nutritional value of the egg is influenced by other factors such as the laying hens’ diet, health and even farming conditions.

Nutritional differences are not caused by the eggshell colour but by the diet of the laying hen and other external factors.

Do brown eggs or white eggs taste better?

There is no real difference in taste between white eggs and brown.  The diet of the laying hen is actually the biggest factor that determines the taste of the egg. The feed given to the hens will have a big impact on the colour of the yolk and the taste of the egg.

Do brown eggs have a thicker shell than white eggs?

Shell thickness is not linked to the eggshell colour.  The thickness of an eggshell is determined by factors other than the shade of the shell. Eggshell thickness can be influenced by the age of the laying hen, as younger hens tend to lay eggs with thicker eggshells. As hens age, the eggshell thickness of their eggs can become thinner. This is true for eggs of all colours.

What other factors can impact the colour of an egg?

 The exterior appearance of an egg can be influenced by factors such as the health of the laying hen, stress, the age of the laying hen and other influences could cause a change in the colour of the hens’ eggs. Eggs that have become paler could be due to illness or other issues. 

Why are free-range eggs more expensive?

Free-range expensive are more expensive because the cost of producing these eggs is higher.  Free-range eggs have access to outdoor areas and can roam in an outdoor area.