One of the most popular trends in chicken keeping is chickens that lay chocolate eggs. Go beyond basic brown and white and enjoy beautiful, deep eggshells.
A few specific breeds of backyard chickens will lay this lovely color: Marans, Welsumers, Barnevelder, and Penedesencas. It is one of the most rare eggshell colors, so you’ll need to choose carefully if this is what you’re after.
Whether you’re new to raising chickens or already have a flock and want to add some color, you’ll find helpful tips and breed suggestions to help you make the best choice.
Let’s find the breed that’s right for you.
Why do some chickens lay chocolate eggs?
Chickens lay different colors of eggs because of their genetics. Basically, the breed of the chicken determines the color of the eggshell. Inside the hen, a sort of “paint job” happens when the egg is being formed. Depending on the breed, a pigment gets added to the eggshell, changing its color.
Now, why do some chickens lay dark brown eggs? The dark brown color comes from a pigment called “porphyrin.” As the egg goes through the hen’s system, it gets multiple layers of this pigment. The more layers, the darker the brown on the eggshell. Some breeds are known for laying darker eggs because they naturally add more of this pigment.
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So, when you see a dark brown or chocolate-colored egg, it’s because that chicken has genetics that tells it to add a lot of pigment to the eggshell. It’s not a sign of the egg being more or less healthy; it’s just a unique and beautiful feature of certain chicken breeds.
Marans (particularly Black copper Marans)
Beautiful chocolate eggshells, not super productive. The best choice if dark brown eggs are very important to you.
- Color Varieties: Black Copper, Black, Wheaten, White
- Eggs Per Year: 150-160
- Egg Color: dark brown, very dark brown from Black Copper
Marans Chickens are a French breed that has recently gained popularity because of their unique, dark brown eggs. In fact, Marans eggs are some of the darkest you can find.
All Marans will lay dark brown eggs, but the specific type of Marans will determine how dark. And, throughout the year, the shells will be slightly lighter or darker.
When it comes to personality, Marans are generally calm and friendly. They get along well with people and other chickens, so they’re a good choice if you have a mixed flock.
Now, let’s talk about the most exciting part: the eggs. Marans are famous for laying dark brown, almost chocolate-colored eggs. They usually lay about 3 to 4 eggs per week, which is decent but not great.
A bit more productive than Marans, but slightly lighter and speckled eggs.
- Color Varieties: Partridge, Silver Duckwing and the Gold Duckwing
- Eggs Per Year: 160-200
- Egg Color: Dark brown, speckled
Welsummers have a classic farmyard chicken look with reddish brown feathers and bright red combs and wattle.
When it comes to their personalities, Welsummers are usually friendly and easygoing. They’re not overly noisy or aggressive, which makes them good neighbors if you’re in a more crowded area. he best spots to lay their eggs or how to get the tastiest bugs to eat.
As for the eggs, Welsummers lay dark brown (but not super dark) eggs. The eggs often have little speckles, making them look even more unique.
These chickens lay about 3 to 5 eggs a week, so you can expect a steady supply. The beautiful, speckled eggs will make a wonderful addition to your egg basket, and they’re sure to catch the eye of anyone who sees them.
If you’re looking for chickens that lay dark eggs and lay a bit more frequently than Marans, these are a great choice.
Heat tolerant, lower productivity, dark shells, unfriendly.
- Color Varieties: Black, Crele Partridge and Wheaten
- Eggs Per Year: 200
- Egg Color: Reddish dark brown
Penedesencas are a Spanish breed from the Catalonia region. They are not as well-known as Marans or Welsummers but have a devoted following, especially among those who appreciate their unique eggs.
Penedesencas are known to be a bit more independent compared to other breeds. They’re good foragers, meaning they love to scratch around and find their own food, like bugs and seeds.
They’re not as friendly as some other breeds and have a reputation for being aggressive in a mixed flock.
They usually lay about 3 to 4 eggs per week, so while they’re not the most frequent layers, the unique color of their eggs more than makes up for it.
This breed is ideal for someone in a hot climate who wants dark shells and is not looking for a pet.
Beautiful, great personality, but lightest eggs of the chocolate layers
- Color Varieties: double-laced brown, double-laced blue, black, and white
- Eggs Per Year: 170-200
- Egg Color: medium to dark brown
Barnevelders are a Dutch breed highly valued for their beauty and friendliness. They lay dark brown eggs but not as deep as French Marans or even Welsummers.
Regarding their personalities, Barnevelders are known to be calm and good-natured. They’re easy to get along with, making them great for families, even those with children or other pets. They are quite “pet-like” themselves and will follow you around the yard. All in all, they’re a pleasant and low-maintenance breed that gets along well in a backyard setting.
Over time, they have been bred for looks and their eggs have become lighter. But they’re still a lovely, well-balanced breed that’s worth a look.
Looking for more chicken breeds to round out your flock?
- Chickens That Lay Blue Eggs
- Chickens That Lay Green Greens
- Chickens That Lay Brown Eggs
- Best Chickens for Meat
- Chickens That Lay the Most Eggs
the best choice for chocolate eggs
Each breed has its unique qualities, from their history and temperament to their egg-laying capabilities.
However, if you’re looking for the cream of the crop when it comes to chocolate-colored eggs, the French Black Copper Marans stand out as the best choice. These birds lay some of the darkest eggs and are known for their calm and friendly nature.
Choosing the right chicken breed for dark brown eggs ultimately depends on what you’re looking for—egg-laying frequency, temperament, or ease of care.
But you can’t go wrong with French Black Copper Marans if it’s the richest, most beautiful dark brown eggs you’re after.