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#32048 - 07/24/02 01:37 PM IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Laurie Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 169
Loc: North Carolina
I realize that genetics determines the color of egg shells including intensity or depth of color.

However, chickens are not machines, and what they are fed varies the complex mix of building blocks available to them to produce the color they are genetically programmed to produce.

Since diet affects overall health and the ability of the hen to produce a good strong shell, more viable chicks, and even leg, fat, and skin color, surely their diet might affect the production of eggshell pigments to SOME extent.

I think I remember Leee saying that zinc something might affect blue egg color; what foods or supplements might contain higher than average levels of this ingredient, to test this?

And for dark-brown egg breeds like the Welsummers and Marans, what feeds or supplements would support the hen's ability to produce the maximum amount of color she is genetically programmed to produce?
_________________________
Laurie

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#32049 - 07/24/02 05:58 PM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Rob Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 783
Loc: Pennsylvania
Laurie, we have hashed this over in the past and the archives will be back up at some point.But(my opinion) I believe artificially coloring of the egg will not be a positive step. Not that I would be against the trial. but trace minerals in excess amounts can be toxic. Several people have done feeding trials to enhance egg shell color and I dont recall seeing any permanent, positive results. I believe it has to be achieved through breeding, which is also being done. But as we, who have an interest in shell color, know; there is not a lot of progress there either. Lee and Rocomoto have stated how great the unknowns are relateing to shell color genes and other factors involved. I really think it is going to take a lot of people breedin a lot of birds to make headway. You would have to dedicate your breeding efforts in this direction and keep lots of birds and records. Most folks like to keep to many varieties to be so dedicated. rob

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#32050 - 07/25/02 07:29 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Just curious: Has anyone tried to cross a blue-egg laying breed with a chocolate-egg laying breed? What would the result be? Is it attractive?

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#32051 - 07/25/02 09:10 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Laurie Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 169
Loc: North Carolina
Buddy,

I have a middle-aged mutt "Maranaucana" and the friend who bred her kept her full sister. Their mother was an Easter Egger, the father a Marans. Therefore, our girls are cuckoo marked and muffed. Interestingly, both girls are named "Olive" which is a real old-fashioned southern woman's name. You will see why that name fits in a more literal sense.

We get different external egg colors from these girls due to each sister having inherited a different amount of brown for the external color of the shell, but each has blue visible inside the shell.

My Olive lays a sort of khaki or gold color depending on time of year, but her eggs are blue inside. Iona's Olive inherited a lot deeper brown color, so the outsides of her eggs are dark olive green, with the same pale blue visible inside. If you are familiar with military uniforms, they lay eggs that are the color on the outside of a USMC summer or winter uniform, both having blue inside and throughout the shell.

I have seen other shades of olive in hatchery Easter Eggers, where one parent of the EEC was a brown egger and the other carried the blue gene. In those cases, the interior showed the color of the shell itself to be pale blue.
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Laurie

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#32052 - 07/25/02 10:23 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Laurie Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 169
Loc: North Carolina
Rob,

I hope you didn't intend to insult me, but the way you inferred I wanted to artificially change egg color did just that. Your comments made it sound as if I might feed toxic chemicals to my birds to produce abnormal or unnatural color.

If you knew me, you would know that artificially forcing a trait or behavior in birds is antithetical to my values and to my belief that our care of birds is --or should be-- stewardship.

Don't forget the blue eggers developed in copper country and may NEED more copper naturally in their diets than north American or European birds do. Twice a year my birds get a little copper sulfate in their water, but I know people who treat the chickens' water with copper sulfate year around to protect them from specific local diseases, with good results.

I have not provided more than the minimum simply because I do not know what levels WOULD be normal or safe. But I am certainly curious how much difference there is in the environments, and how I could make up for that difference. Birds inevitably eat some dirt and pebbles with their food, and if there is plentiful copper in the soil and water....

I don't even provide artificial light in winter because I believe the ladies need their rest, and I provide my birds with fresh greens year around, because I care a lot about their health. I select types of greens that provide additional calcium in a nutritional and digestible form natural to a chicken's history and biology. (What I do feed them that is probably not natural is fish meal, but it is high quality protein that is neither beef nor poultry-based.)

I am not a canary breeder working with Red Factors (birds bred specifically for their ability to absorb red pigment when new feathers are forming). My interests aren't aimed that way. In fact, the only canaries I love are a natural sport, the blue ones, and the original greens.

I am a chicken fancier interested in finding out what normal, wholesome food ingredients could best SUPPORT the production of NATURAL color in colored eggs.

It intrigues me that I have seen so many reports of deeper egg colors from Araucanian chickens in the wild than their domesticated descendants in the US and Europe, and wonder what nutritional elements the birds in the wild are able to choose for themselves that we do not know to include (or may not provide enough of) in their distant descendants' diets.

If we knew what chemicals enable a hen to produce the bluest egg her body is capable of, then we could review the foods found in her ancestral environment and similar foods available here that have comparable levels of those key chemicals, and provide such foods to the hens. (My mother has macular degeneration, and to slow the progression of the disease, she is eating a lot of foods that have higher levels of the chemicals she need. Lots of blueberries, lots of fish. I eat a lot of them also, on a preventive basis.)

My goal is NOT to increase the color beyond what is natural, but to have reasonable confidence that what we are seeing as we breed for egg color is a FULL and accurate representation of what the bird's genes are programmed to produce.

Except for the first eggs of spring, hens DON'T lay the deepest color they have proved themselves capable of or producing naturally.

Fading of egg color over the laying season varies by hen. I suspect hens whose egg size is large relative to overall body size, and hens thay lay thicker-shelled eggs, may be depleted more easily than more average hens.

I believe that during their winter rest, the hens replenish and store in their bodies the chemicals that will be needed to color their eggs to the extent dictated by their genes. I love the deep egg colors and the bursting good health of the hens in spring.

It seems to me that if we could determine what chemicals (or more accurately, proportions and balances of chemicals) are found most plentifully in colored egg layers' bodies in spring and then compared them to levels later in the season, we could develop a supplement that would RESTORE the levels that occur in them NATURALLY in the spring, and enable hens to CONTINUE to produce their best egg color throughout the laying season.

Who knows, perhaps they would also feel healthier overall, as they clearly do in spring!
_________________________
Laurie

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#32053 - 07/25/02 11:26 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Rob Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 783
Loc: Pennsylvania
No , my intent was not meant to insult your integrety as a breeder or husband of poultry. Just trying to stir more interested posters,

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#32054 - 07/25/02 06:23 PM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Laurie Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 169
Loc: North Carolina
What about foods said to improve egg color in dark-red/brown egg layers?

Kermit said (apparently after communicating with breeders in France) that the Marans were developed in marshy areas, and that breeders in France said feeding willow leaves (Salix) to Marans hens would improve (deepen) egg color.

Interesting. Salix has been known for ages by many cultures as the natural source of the drug now called aspirin, which can slightly increase the rate of bleeding (or depress clotting) in a normal healthy person. When I take it, I bruise easily. Wonder if this has anything to do with the way the red-brown pigment is secreted and deposited by the hens?
_________________________
Laurie

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#32055 - 07/25/02 08:45 PM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Rob Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 783
Loc: Pennsylvania
There just might be something to that theoty.OOporphryn (the brown coating applied to the white or blue egg) is a compound which is a result of hemoglobin metabolism. May be, by thinning the blood, or causing slight internal bleeding, more of this compound is available to the egg surface as it passes. If there are over a dozen genes affecting egg shell color, there are a lot of unknowns and combinations.

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#32056 - 07/26/02 09:06 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I have done a few experiments with my hens and find that Vitamin C increases the deepth of color for eggs. Why, well I think its because as a premier antioxidant, Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron and calcium from the intestines, protects white blood cells, and regulates many essential body processes. Vitamin C is essential for the production of the protein collagen, a key component of connective tissue and blood vessels. It occurs naturally in Rose Hips which I feed my chickens. I have also found that those chickens who get carrots (beta carotene) and red beets have darker richer colored shells. I had seen an article years ago that vitamin c made eggs darker and I guess I just remembered parts of that article. these work for me, you may want to give them a try.
Janet Tallon

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#32057 - 07/27/02 04:22 AM Re: IF diet affects egg color, which ingredients help?
Nikki Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/19/02
Posts: 181
Loc: Michigan
Mother Mastiff have you ever been to Bill Worrell site, he promotes and sells kelp, DE, garlic ect. he may have some answers for you. His site is Briarpatch Farm www.showpoultry.com. He sells blends of his product 5lbs. for under 20.00. And Janet response sounds like it would deepen the color of the yolk if not the shell, it sure truned my baby orange as he only would eat carrots and sweet potatoes.

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