Dark brown eggs

Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)October 31, 2006

In the cage-free eggs at the super market, we see uniform large dark brown eggs. What breed of chicken do these come from? I have to assume it is a breed that lays lots of eggs. We have New Hampshires, Barred Rocks and they lay a variety of shades of brown.

If we decide to try to sell commercially, I would like some more uniform colored eggs --- or maybe it isn't even important.

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I dont know for sure but would assume some variety of red sex link. There are several names for them depending on source. These are the result of a male line and a female line and the layers are a terminal cross. The males of these lines are destroyed or otherwise dealt with. They are bred for uniformity. The hatchery stock supplied to back yarders is sort of run of the mill quality, mostly bred for good egg production but not great. Uniformity is not the game. They could be from about any kind or breed; there are several smaller producers who run only 100 - 2500 birds and supply some markets.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 1:20PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

The last time I kept hens it was the Rhode Island Reds whose eggs were darkest -- they were beautiful. But I have three RI Reds in my new flock and their eggs aren't any darker than the Orpingtons. I also got three Marans because they're reputed to have the darkest eggs. They're younger than the other hens and all I can say is I hope they're not laying yet, because if they are then they're a BIG disappointment!

I think it's a shame that commercial regulations keep you from selling a "backyard variety" dozen eggs. People love buying eggs from my little flock because you get a little egg and a big egg and some are blue and some are brown and so on. Sometimes they take them as hostess gifts when they go visiting! But I guess the big producers influence the regulations and to sell commercially they have to be sized and I personally feel the dozen loses something then. IMHO.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 7:46AM
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Most states allow selling home produced eggs. Some states have little regulation and some are stiffer. Here in Pa. where there are lots of food laws, eggs are sold by farmers and small producers everywhere, farmers markets, road side stands, et cetera. There are rules/laws but weakly enforced, Pa. is huge on buy local foods programs.
the big producers arent worried about mom and pops 10 dozen eggs per week. They deal in millions. The laws are to protect consumers., not producers; altho, those laws can protect producers from the liability of a poor product.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 1:54PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Here in Michigan the law is you can sell directly from the farm, but as soon as you take them to a farmer's market, let alone to a store, they must be "processed" which includes not only washing in a licensed kitchen, but also sizing them. I don't know how seriously the law is enforced, but the extension service was quite clear on the point when I called to ask.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 6:12PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

The whole "washing" thing is interesting to us. Maybe it is just a free-range thing, but our eggs are never EVER dirty. There is no poop at all in the nest to get on them. Now, maybe if chickens are penned up and walk in their poo, it will get tracked into the nests. Is that what happens??

So far, we haven't seen an egg that needs any kind of washing.

BTW, it is also interesting to me that chickens (all birds) will poo in their drinking water but sure never poo in their nest boxes.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 6:25PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

I guess you've just been lucky -- I've occasionally found poop in the nest boxes!


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:05AM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

Me too, but it's not a big deal. I do wash all of our eggs in hot water, though. Just by virtue of chickens being livestock, I'm pretty sure the eggs have lots of little nasties we can't see!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:10AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Well, now if you are concerned about the "nasties" on the eggs, you might be hurting more than helping. Egg shells are pourous and because of that, washing can push bacteria into the egg.

If I am wrong about this, someone in the know please correct my thinking.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Use water that is warmer than the egg itself. There are commercial egg wash solutions available, even egg washers for the small scale producers. I dont usually wash eggs, if they are dirty in the slightest they go to the dog or back to the chickens.
Ever notice how quick they are to drink from a nasty puddle!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 11:06AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Since my older girls are going through their first moult I have been lucky to get a couple of eggs a week (13 hens). While they haven't been laying they started to use the nest boxes to sleep in and poop in, I have never seen them so dirty! to keep them clean I would have to change the shavings in the boxes every day which is not practical.

So now when I do get an egg I have been washing them with very warm water and drying them off quickly. As soon as I wash an egg (and it's throughly dry) I do put them in the fridge since I'm not sure how much of the bloom is still there.

I hope when my girls start to lay again they stop using the boxes as their latrine!


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 3:34PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Personally, I think we are far too concerned about "nasties" on eggs or anything else. My theory is that we all need to "eat our peck of dirt" and that we are all the more resistant to ill-effects for doing so. Doesn't mean we have to be filthy about things... but I do think a lot of people these days worry far too much.

Hey, I'm still here and healthy, more or less.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 9:42PM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

roberta, I did a quick search online and I don't think you can "push" bacteria back into an egg, but bacteria can penetrate the shell via pores with or without washing. However, the egg does have a natural cuticle which is it's first line of defense against bacteria. I'm not sure if washing or rinsing in warm water for a few seconds is adequate to remove the cuticle. The info I've read is pretty evenly divided over washing, and very few were about home production of eggs. Most were about commercial production and indicated using a chlorine based detergent to sanitize the eggs. I don't think I'll go that far. They did all stress immediate refrigeration, though, which I will be more vigilant about. I've often left the washed eggs on the counter overnight to dry, but no more.

maggie j, I totally agree that we are being inundated with the "germ" syndrome as a means for industries to sell cleaning products that are likely far more harmful than the germs in most cases. The whole antibacterial soap/wipe/sprays thing is a bit overdone. That said, there are also a lot of really bad germs/bacteria/viruses affecting people and at an increasing rate. We've all heard of avian flu, the Waterton water contamination (E.coli), etc., etc. A few weeks ago, it hit pretty close to home when several universities in NB and NS had to shut down and/or take precautions to prevent the spread of Norwalk virus that affected several hundred students. I happen to work at one of the universities - makes you think about the whole germ thing in a different light. Our warnings included "to avoid touching door handles where possible" - that's scary!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 6:57PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

Here is a web page I have saved that compares the various breeds of chickens by egg color, personality, ect. It looks like there are a few breeds that lay very dark brown eggs.

Here is a link that might be useful: chicken chart

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 4:53PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Funny, all i've read says wash eggs lightly, if needed, in COLD water

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 10:03AM
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Thats why it is important to know your resources! Some always have read that eggs can be sexed, or turpentine will cure a horse with heaves, or goats eat tin cans, or inbreeding always causes freakd, or, you get it!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Cage free isn't cage free. They could be in a big house with nest boxes and still never see sun or field. Just like free range can mean only that they can get outside for a bit. Might only be a 20x20 pen for 10,000 birds but they can get outside.
Just like grass fed can mean only that the animal ate some grass sometime during it's life.

My laying flock are mixed brown egg layer and a few odd leghorns. Part of the charm of farm fresh eggs is the non unformity.

Pullets usually start out with a shade or two darker shells then when they mature. The shell can and will probably change a bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: cage free

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 7:38AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

I realize cage-free isn't usually what we think of as truly cage-free and the same with free-range.

How can I differentiate in advertising that mine are the "real thing"?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:20AM
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isn't it a shame that terms really have no meaning. Always someone trying to beat the system.
I dont know how you can make the distinction xcept to have your flosk visible to the customers? The ultimate responsibility is to the purchaser to make themselves educated and aware.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 11:47AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

If you are advertising/explaining for people who won't actually see your farm and flock, you could post a picture or several pictures, or say that the hens range over X number of acres. But, it all comes down to trust - that the people will believe that what you say/show is actually what happens, and trust can't be mandated, only earned. So, you do the best you can, and hope that good results will follow.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 5:20PM
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My birds can be seen from the road so it's a non issue but I think I'd do a little booklet with the birds roaming and a paragraph or two about them and the conditions they are raised under if I was selling at a farmers market or some such thing. I do know that I'd like to get a little apartment fridge to sit on my front porch with a money box. I would put a little sales pitch brochure out there then.

Just like you were selling daylilies Roberta! Little notebook with pictures and description of the plant in bloom. Customers can pick it up and learn at their own pace without high speed sales pitches. Same as selling feathered flowers.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 5:00AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

That's a great idea! I could even have a poster board with pictures of the chickens hanging out in trees and tilling my daylily garden. Pictures of them in the back of the pick-up and sitting in the ATV would be cute too.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 8:54AM
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Hi - I think Marans lay the darkest brown of all chickens eggs. If you want to see pictures of the colours of eggs they lay I have recently set up a site with photos, and a copy of the colour chart for eggs, check it out on the link below

All the best

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.darkbrowneggs.info

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 8:06AM
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