A Carton of Eggs: Part 1 - Hipster Hen Wonder Eggs


Here’s the cool and unique thing about eggs: They come with their own container - the eggshell.  Granted bananas and potatoes have their peel, and oranges and melons have their rind, but what other animal-sourced food is prepackaged?  I can’t think of any!

Of course, you seldom buy just one egg.  They usually come in batches of a dozen, and those dozen eggs need to be contained in something – hence the egg carton.  In addition to keeping eggs grouped together, a carton provides stability and cushioning in transport; an important thing - we’re talking about a product that is “as fragile as eggs”, after all.   An egg carton also provides lots of blank space that can be filled up with information, promotional messages, and art.  And that’s as important a carton function as either of the others.  Selling, after all is about merchandising, and merchandising is about branding.  An eggshell is pretty anonymous.  When you look at an eggshell, you don’t learn a whole lot about the hen that laid the egg.  It’s not like she has the ability to stamp her initials or trademark on the egg as she lays it.  But then the hen really doesn’t care too much about branding.  The egg company cares though, thus all those words and pictures on a carton.

Meet the Flock Roundup - January & February 2017

Meet Paul!  Paul is my "second-in-command" rooster and is a frizzled bantam Cochin.  "Frizzled" refers to his curly feathers, "bantam" to his diminutive size, and Cochin is his breed - a sweet-tempered, feather-footed breed that originated in China.  In this shot, Paul is out for a walk in the leaf-covered chicken run in mid-November.



Here's a 2013 picture of Paul in his awkward adolescence. He was a normal looking fluffy little chick, then he went through his first molt and all these weird curly feathers started coming out every whichway. He survived his teenage years and turned into the dapper little roo that he is today!

Meet Paulette, one of the quartet of Cream Legbar hens that joined the flock as babies last March. All four of the Legbars' pretty blue/green eggs have been increasing in size since they started laying late in the summer last year and Paulette has been leading the pack. Each of her eggs is typically over 60 grams now, which puts them in the "extra-large" category. And she lays an egg pretty much every day. Such a good girl!


Here's a picture of Paulette in her youth (last May). In this shot she appears to be taking great interest in a leaf stuck to the brush cutter.



Here's a picture of from last spring of Paulette doing her daily yoga routine. I think this pose is called "downward chicken".

Meet Rosa the Rhode Island Red. I bought four RIR baby chicks in the spring of 2013. Sadly, Rosa is the only one left. I love my reds - they were all prolific egg layers, personable, and pretty little hens. Rosa seems to be doing just fine, and while she's been on a "winter break" from egg laying ever since last fall's molt, I expect she'll get back to business once spring rolls around.

Here's another picture of Rosa taken on a June day last summer.

 In this old picture from 2013, Rosa and Charlie Barred Rock share scratch direct from the source. Mmmmm! You can't beat scratch fresh out of the bucket!

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Eggshells in a Nutshell: Blue and Green Eggs


What's Up With Blue and Green Eggs?

  • Blue eggs are blue because of biliverdin-IX, a pigment that’s produced in cells lining a hen’s oviduct.
  • Biliverdin-IX, like protoporphyrin-IX, the pigment in brown eggs, is made from an iron-containing chemical called heme that comes from broken-down red blood cells.
  • Biliverdin-IX is added to the hard testa layer of the egg shell during egg formation, so a blue egg is blue all the way through and is blue on the inside of the shell.
  • Chickens that lay green eggs incorporate both blue biliverdin-IX and brown protoporphyrin-IX into their eggshells.  Since most or all of the brown pigment is in the bloom, the inside of a green eggshell is blue.
  • The hue of green eggs will vary depending on how much brown pigment is present—they can run the gradient from light blue-green to a dark olive.
  • While blue eggs are not uncommon in birds (think of robin’s eggs), they are a little unusual in chickens.  All of the chicken breeds that lay blue eggs originated in or contain breeding stock from South America.
Blue egg courtesy of Veronica the Easter Egger

A few of the blue/green egg-laying Hipster Hens
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Eggshells in a Nutshell: Brown Eggs

What's Up With Brown Eggs?

  • Brown eggs are brown because of protoporphyrin-IX, a pigment that’s produced in cells lining a hen’s oviduct.
  • Protoporphyrin-IX is made from an iron-containing chemical called heme that comes from broken-down red blood cells.
  • Some brown-shelled eggs have pigments added to the hard testa layer of the egg shell, but most eggs have the bulk of their pigment added with the bloom—the “paint” layer that goes on right before a hen lays an egg.
  • Because the bloom is still wet when the egg is laid, you can wipe much of the color off of a freshly laid egg.
  • Because the pigment of most brown eggs is in the bloom, the insides of most brown eggshells are white.
  • Different breeds add different amounts of pigment to their eggshells, for example, Black Copper Marans lay eggs that are a deep, dark chocolate, while Barred Plymouth Rocks lay very light brown eggs.
  • There is no nutritional difference between brown eggs, white eggs, or eggs of any other color.  A factor that does influences the nutritional value of an egg is the diet of the hen that laid it.

Brown egg courtesy of Maran the Cuckoo Marans Hen


A few of the brown-egg-laying Hipster Hens


Randy's Chicken Blog participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products available on Amazon.