Egg Yolk Color: What makes egg yolks yellow and healthy?

chicken egg yolk

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Whether boiled or fried, you surely will be looking for a dense and delicious yolk (or two), one of the best parts of eating fresh eggs from your own hens. But what exactly is an egg yolk, and how does it get its vivid hue? Read on to learn more and how you can keep your chickens’ egg yolks flavor and nutrient-packed and improve your egg yolk color.

What makes egg yolks yellow? The orange color in eggs is due to the compound called: Carotenoids. Carotenoids are anti-oxidants and this compound gives the egg-yolk the orange color. This class of nutrients is found mainly in the pasture feeds. Orange yolks are the result of chickens eating more food with high carotene content. Yellow yolks come from chickens eating less carotene.

egg yolk

What is an egg yolk?

The rich yellow color is the part of a hen’s egg that is laid up as an energy and nutrient store for the chick that would develop if the egg was fertilized and incubated. It is suspended within the albumin or white of the egg and tethered by two strand-like tissues called chalazae. Mother hen puts all her tender loving care into producing yolks that are rich in:

  • Protein – almost half the total amount in the egg.
  • Fats – particularly cholesterol.
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Yolks are intriguing as many of the delicious tidbits and foods your hen eats turn up in the yolk unassimilated, i.e. as absorbed after digestion. This makes it a taste of the hen’s experiences and environment for her developing young. 

For us, delicious yolks enrich all sorts of recipes that come to life with fresh, home-laid eggs. 

For a more detail look at egg yolks click here

girl with fresh egg

A kaleidoscope of egg yolk color!

We often think of eggs as being simply yellow, but in fact, the range of colors span from pale, almost white yellow to a deep orange.

Brighter, richer colored yolks are often associated with better quality and nutrition, but actually the color of the yolk is simply a reflection of what the hen has been eating. Darker or more vivid coloring is typically due to the presence of carotenoids in chicken feed.

These are absorbed by the yolk.  Some poultry keepers add paprika or marigolds to their feed to obtain brighter yolks too and avoiding those pale yellow yolks.

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More yellow, more flavor?

This is controversial as there is no established evidence that deeper hued yolks are richer or tastier. A light yolk and a dark yolk will have the same proportions of fat, protein, and other nutrients. However, it is still held that the introduction of garlic, corn or paprika to a hen’s feed adds to the color flavor of an egg.

Boost your hen’s yolks by adding these nutritious foods to their daily feeds.

If you fancy adding some oomph to the yolks from your flock, why not try adding these foods to your daily feed:

  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Dandelion
  • Garlic
  • Alfalfa
  • Basil
  • Marigolds

With hens, you get out what you put in. Good nutrition and care will always keep your hen’s egg production at its best and any improvements you can make to your hens’ diet will certainly show up on your plate. 

egg yolks

What about shell color?

Have you seen in stores that brown eggs are a lot more expensive than white eggs? You might have thought that brown eggs are some more “natural,” which would explain the higher price tag. But that’s not true.

Actually the shell color is entirely down to the breed and even the color of the hen that lays the eggs. Among commercial breeds, hens with white feathers and earlobes lay white-shelled eggs; hens with red feathers and earlobes lay brown eggs. Some hens even lay green and blue eggs!

Healthy chicken, Healthy egg?

Battery hens that don’t have free access to the great outdoors are given additives and supplements to change the color of their yolks and sometimes their shells to fool the consumer.

Some of these additives (like algae, marigold flowers, and orange peels) add some nutritional value, but the benefits but nothing can compare to living freely outdoors where the birds can eat freely and get all the nutrients from the bugs, worms and seeds they eat in between grazing on grass ― specifically heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Conclusion: What makes a chickens egg yolk yellow?

As you can see from the information above it’s mainly down to diet, and the amount of food they eat with a high carotene content.

It’s fair to say that a healthy diet for your chickens will be repaid to you with yummy, deep yellow egg yolks.

A sign that you love and care for you chickens.

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