A good egg

French Property News - - Interiors -

We have Marans chick­ens bought last spring from the lo­cal French mar­ket. They’ve laid beau­ti­ful dark-brown eggs but then, af­ter the moult and a short rest­ing time be­fore be­gin­ning to lay again, one of them is now oc­ca­sion­ally pro­duc­ing an egg much lighter in colour than the rest. Is there any rea­son for this? Mal­colm Cur­tis

Al­though it is known that it is def­i­nitely re­lated to ge­net­ics, the breed does not alone guar­an­tee a con­sis­tent sup­ply of con­tin­u­ally dark brown eggs. For in­stance, a male bird could hatch from a dark brown egg but may not have the genes to fa­ther pul­lets that pro­duce dark brown eggs (it seems to be ac­cepted by most that the fa­ther is the de­ter­min­ing fac­tor for the colour of eggs in the next gen­er­a­tion) but that is ob­vi­ously not the rea­son in your case.

Egg shell colour is ‘poly­genic’, mean­ing that there are a mul­ti­ple of genes that af­fect the end re­sult. The par­tic­u­lar pig­ment that is re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing a brown eggshell in the oviduct is a he­mo­glo­bin por­phyrin – in effect, a blood prod­uct. A hen that lays a sin­gle dark choco­late coloured egg and then re­verts to those of a paler pig­ment, most likely does so due to an ab­nor­mal­ity in glan­du­lar se­cre­tions as the egg passes through the oviduct. But, as you’ve no­ticed, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily hap­pen with every egg laid.

In­ci­den­tally, the spelling of Marans is al­ways with an ‘s’ on the end – ir­re­spec­tive of whether talk­ing of sin­gle or plu­ral.

Marans eggs stand out in the crowd!

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