Diets rich in dark leafy vegetables increase lutein levels in egg yolk, giving it its vibrant golden orange hue. Furthermore, adding 3% rapeseed oil to feed for laying chickens boosts production, egg weight and the ratio between EPA and DHA fatty acids in their blood.
1. Natural Foraging
Chickens who have free access to foraging tend to produce eggs with darker yellow yolks due to consuming an abundance of seeds, bugs, worms, garden weeds and meat that contain unique types of xanthophylls, omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals that have an impactful impact on egg pigmentation.
If you do not live on a farm with access to pasture, and cannot allow your flock to forage freely, an alternative strategy would be adding foraged plants such as calendula blossoms (which can be eaten), carrots, dark pumpkin or paprika foraging into their diet as a supplement – this will add color and depth to their yolks while providing essential nutrition. Nevertheless, such tactics would still count as cheating as it depletes egg nutrition content.
Barastoc Golden Yolk Layer Feed is an exceptional, complete, nutritious pelleted feed specially formulated to encourage golden yolk production in home flocks. Packed full of essential nutrients that deplete as your hen lays eggs, this feed will support strong and healthy eggs being laid.
2. Hens that Peck
Feeding chickens the right diet can have an incredible impact on the color of their egg yolks. Hens fed on corn-rich diets produce pale yellow eggs while those on green pasture consume more carotenoids (sources of xanthophylls) to produce darker yolked eggs. Carotenoids can be found in many different plants including green grass, alfalfa meal, paprika and marigold which all provide abundant sources of carotenoids that contribute to richer yolk production than those fed on diets lacking in xanthophylls produce egg with much richer yellow hued yolks than their counterparts fed diets low on xanthophylls produce eggs with more vibrant hues. Caged hens given diets rich in carotenoids have richer yolks than their counterparts who aren’t.
Pecking at another hen is an instinctual behavior which establishes hierarchy within the flock, essential for keeping orderly. Mild pecking is acceptable; however if a bully targets weak or sick members of their flock it could become quite dangerous and even result in feathers being pulled out by force.
One way to reduce aggression among your flock of chickens is to slowly introduce new chicks, giving treats when all hens come together so that they associate each other with something positive. Or if one of your flock members has become dominant over another, isolate her temporarily until the situation has dissipated.
3. Stressed Hens
Diet is one of the primary factors affecting egg yolk color in hens. Hens fed on diets rich in green grass, vegetables, weeds, seeds and flowers naturally produce yolks with deeper yellow or orange hues due to xanthophylls, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from these sources being passed onto their eggs resulting in deeper yellow or orange hues; caged hens without access to such natural high-carotene sources tend to produce pale yellow or even white eggs due to low levels of nutrients being passed from food sources onto their eggs resulting in pale yellow or even white eggs being produced instead.
Hens exposed to fearful living conditions such as inadequate housing, overcrowding or disruptions in their pecking order may produce poor-quality eggs or have difficulty producing consistently, compromising their health and leading to weight loss and unhealthy feathers. This situation should be avoided at all costs for their wellbeing.
Feeding your hens nutritionally-balanced layer food on an everyday basis is one of the best ways to ensure their health and peak laying condition. Denver Stock Feeds Golden Yolk pelleted complete chicken feed is designed specifically to meet their needs from point of lay through peak lay.
4. Seasonal Changes
People often assume that golden egg yolks indicate healthier and more nutritious chickens when raised free-range or pastured hens, particularly if their diet includes dark leafy vegetables, flax seeds, marigold petals, saffron or corn. Unfortunately, egg color alone cannot accurately measure nutritional value; what really matters most is the diet of each individual hen and her ability to produce eggs with deeper and richer hues.
As winter nears, hens’ access to green grass may decrease and their intake of carotenoids will dip accordingly. Offering them a balanced feed that contains plenty of essential vitamins will ensure they maintain regular egg production as the seasons shift.