What Color Should Your Egg Yolks Be?

Do your yolks look pumpkiny orange ? It tells you that the eggs are full of nutrition or does it? The answer is yes, and no. The color of the yolk has to do with what the chicken is eating more than how nutritious it is.

white cornmeal — nearly colorless

wheat and barely – pale yellow

yellow cornmeal, alfalfa – medium yellow yolk

marigold pedals, kale, greens – deep yellow yolks

carrots, tomatoes, red peppers – orange to red yolks

The bright orange yolks of our eggs comes from all the grass, bugs and good stuff our chickens eat free-range. But yolk color is about carotenoids (yellow, orange, and red fat soluble pigments), or exantophylls (yellow pigments). These pigment molecules are found in plants and are responsible for the color of vegetables, fruit, and flowers.

If just the orange color was what you were after then you could just add marigold pedals to your chickens diet and some companies do add certain foods to lure their customers into thinking they are getting a large nutritional boost. Granted they do get some addition but if the full range of nutrition is what you are after then let your chickens have a smorgasbord. To do that you would give them free-rang off of lush pastures. Don’t confuse free-range home grown chicken with the label free-range from the store which simply means the chickens had a small piece of dirt to stand on in a yard. There are some operations that do put their hens on pastures but they are far and few in between, especially in our area.

There are simpler ways to raise chickens than free-range so why do we fight fox, coyotes, and the neighbor’s dogs and loose hens and roosters each year?  It is because of an article in Mother Earth News which showed chickens raised on pasture would increase nutrition and lower cholesterol. The numbers were so dramatically different than commercial eggs in a good way that the sacrifice of time and money seems worth it.

Besides the flavor of a healthier egg is far superior in everything it goes in. Healthier chickens means healthier eggs.

As I was researching feed and what color affect it had on egg yolks I came across Haugh units as the commercial judge of quality. The look at the height of the yolk and the diameter of it and score it. No where in the score is nutrition. Of course the better the feed  to a degree the higher the yolk and larger the diameter to a degree. That comes at a price for the farmer though so he is going to figure at what point he makes the most money from his eggs. So if you want it done right, you might just have to do it yourself.


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