Changes in Brown Eggshell Color As the Hen Ages

By A. Z. Odabai, R. D. Miles, M. O. Balaban, and K. M. Portier, University of Florida and published in Poultry Science, Volume 86, Issue 2, February 2007 edition.
calendar icon 12 March 2007
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The color of eggshells from eggs laid by commercial-type Hy-Line brown hens 25 wk of age was studied over a period of 10 mo.

Color measurements were made by a color machine vision system and were analyzed using a mixed model to calculate between and within hen variances and to investigate the effect of time on shell color.

Hens laid eggs with lighter colored shells as the flock aged, as evidenced by the lightness (L*) values increasing in time. A decrease in pigmentation was associated with a decrease in the amount of redness (a*) in the eggshell. When L* and a* values were corrected for egg weight, the rate of change in the L* and a* values decreased, indicating that size of the egg was a major factor affecting the color of the eggshell.

These findings quantified the observations that older hens lay lighter colored eggs due to an increase in egg size associated with no proportionate change in the quantity of pigment deposited over the shell surface.

Using a 2-stage sampling analysis and the variances between and within hens, sample sizes required to estimate the color of eggshells within 5% of the true mean were calculated. Accordingly, 11 eggs would need to be collected from each of the 51 hens housed for a study of brown eggshell color using the L*, a*, and b* (yellowness) coordinates.

February 2007

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