Difference Between Brown Eggs and White Eggs
When shopping for eggs, which do you prefer to buy, white eggs or brown eggs?
Most people will think that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs because they cost more, others think that white eggs are bleached and some think that brown eggs are from hens eating a type of sand, rocks, and grit.
But what is the real difference between white eggs and brown eggs? The answer lies in the chicken's genetics, specifically on the chicken's earlobes.
Best eggs: White eggs vs brown eggs
White eggs are from chickens with white earlobes, while brown eggs are laid by chickens with red earlobes. Brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs or vice versa.
The nutritional value for both eggs is the same, despite the color. The egg's color depends on the breed of chicken that laid it, and not an indication that one is healthier than the other.
Brown eggs are usually larger than white eggs; this is why they cost more. Hens that lay brown eggs are also more costly to raise because they consume more feeds and take up more space than hens that lay white eggs.
The yolk of both eggs does not differ in color, nor the taste, or have a different nutritional value, and the color of the yolk does not affect the nutritional value of an egg as well.
And if it happen, it is due to the chicken's diet!
Why are Eggs Brown or White?
All eggshells start off as white and are made of calcium carbonate. It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to form an egg.
In the process of developing an egg, usually, around four to six hours before hatching, the egg is 'dyed' according to the hen's pigment gene. Hens that lay white eggs, like Leghorns, do not have pigment genes at all.
Eggs can be brown, blue, pink, and green, all of which may vary in shade. A brown egg is caused by a pigment called protoporphyrin which is applied at the end process of forming an egg; this is why the egg is brown on the outside but white on the inside. While the pigment, called oocyanin, that makes blue eggs is applied earlier in the egg-making process which is why the eggs are blue inside and out.
Chicken Egg Colors
Eggs from hens do not only come in brown and white colors. There are breeds of chicken that can lay pink, green, blue and even chocolate-brown eggs!
Hens can only lay eggs of one color but can vary in shade. If an egg is lighter in color than usual, it may be because the hen is exposed to too much heat or has parasites.
Blue eggs are usually lighter in color. Blue eggs are laid by Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Cream Legbars. Green eggs are produced by a cross-breed of hens and roosters that possess both blue and brown pigment genes (protoporphyrin and oocyanin). Chickens like the Olive Eggers can produce varying shades of green eggs.
Pink eggs and dark brown eggs are quite rare. They can only be acquired through a local farm or if you raise your own hens. Pink eggs are laid by Barred Rock, Light Sussex and Asil, and they produce fewer eggs than average per year. Dark brown eggs or chocolate brown eggs are from Black Copper Marans, Pendescena and Welsummer chickens.
Types of Eggs to Buy
If the color of an egg is not the indicator of its quality, then what is? When shopping for eggs at the supermarket, pay attention to the label in the packaging.
Eggs are packed and classified according to the conditions of the chicken. When identifying the quality of an egg, it's all about the chickens who laid them.
Farm fresh eggs are from battery-caged chickens in factory farms. These chickens are raised in small cages that, at most times, limit them from moving and flapping around.
Farm fresh eggs do not mean anything other than eggs that are picked from caged hens unless you bought it straight from a local farm.
Healthy Eggs to Buy
Cage Free eggs are eggs produced from chickens that are not stored in cages. These eggs produced by these chickens are slightly better than farm fresh eggs because the chickens are in a less harsh condition. Cage-free eggs mean the chickens are stocked inside a hen house, and they don't have access outside.
Pasture-raised eggs are the best and healthiest eggs in the market. Chickens that are pasture-raised are healthier because they are free to roam around fresh pastures and forage for food that is natural for their diet. Rather than being caged, congested and fed corn-based feed, pasture-raised chickens are healthier and happier which results in healthier eggs.
Organic eggs are from chickens that are not in cages, have outdoor access with direct sunlight and option for shade, and are fed certified organic feed. The feeds don't have antibiotics, pesticides, or animal byproducts. The chickens are healthy and in their natural behaviour, which makes the eggs organic and healthy to eat.
White Eggs vs Brown Eggs Researches and References
If you want to know more about white eggs vs brown eggs, take a look at our references below.
Below are few links we have used as references, images we use are from Wikimedia commons, free stock photos (listed here), and the "versus" montage is from Patrice Laborda.
- Chicken's earlobes
- White versus brown eggs
- What's the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs?
- Why are eggs different colours?
- How Blue Eggs Get Their Color
- Eating a type of sand, rocks and grit
- Farm Fresh, Free Range, Cage Free, Organic… What’s the difference?
- The location of protoporphyrin in the eggshell of brown-shelled eggs
- Chicken Breeds That Lay Blue, Green, Pink, White, and Other Egg Colors
Speaking about eggs, now I want to eat eggs...
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The Research and Media Team at Scotty's.