Eggs

Black Chicken Eggs Myths Busted

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The internet is full of stories about black chicken eggs. It’s all hype, there are no chickens that lay black eggs.

The key takeaways are:

  • Black Copper Marans lay very dark brown eggs
  • Entirely black chicken breeds exist but lay creamy eggs
  • Ducks and Emus can lay eggs with black-looking shells
  • Boiling chicken eggs in volcanic water turns the shell black

Let’s dive in head first with the million-dollar question.

What Chicken lays Black Eggs?

There are no chickens that lay black eggs. Black chicken breeds like Ayam Cemani, Mystic Onyx, and Svarthona lay cream-colored eggs. Black Copper Marans lay dark chocolate-colored eggs. Only the eggs of ducks and emus can have a black appearance. Black chicken eggs on the web are chemically or artificially colored.

Do Black Chickens lay Black Eggs?

Black chickens do not lay black eggs. Some chickens, like the Ayam Cemani, are genetically predisposed to turn entirely black. Their feathers, beaks, eyes, combs, wattles, organs, meat, and bones are all black. The only thing that isn’t black is their eggs.

Ayam Cemani chickens and their light-colored eggs
Source: Daniel Tuttle (Unsplash)

The Ayam Cemani is a rare Indonesian breed with hyperpigmentation or fibromelanosis. Due to cross-breeding, the black Fm-gene can now also be found in other breeds, like Svarth√∂na, Vietnamese Black H’Mong, and Black Silkies.

However, none of them lays black eggs.

Black Chicken BreedEgg Color
Ayam CemaniTinted, creamy, light-colored
Svarthöna, Swedish BlackWhite, cream-colored
Jet Black KadaknathCream-colored
Black H’MongOff-white, tan
Black SilkieWhite, cream, tinted

Chicken genetics can express several egg colors, but there are no black-colored chicken eggs.

Birds that lay Black Eggs

The only birds that come close to laying black chicken-like eggs are Cayuga ducks and emus. Black Cayuga ducks can lay blackish eggs at the beginning of the season. The color is sitting in a layer on top of a lighter eggshell.

When an emu lays an egg, it has a dull green color, which turns dark and glossy after a while. From a distance, the egg can give a dark black impression. However, emu eggs are twice as big as regular chicken eggs.

There have been some historical reports of honeycreepers laying solid purple-black eggs. However, these reports are considered rumors by scientists.

Black Chicken Eggs of Hakone

Monks in the volcanic valley of Owakudani in Japan are famous for their magical black chicken eggs. The local Buddhists boil chicken eggs in the hot spring waters, which turns the eggshell black. These legendary black chicken eggs, or kuro tamago, are sold with the promise to increase one’s life expectancy by seven years.

black boiled eggs of hakone on brown paper
Black Chicken Eggs of Hakone [Wikimedia Commons]

The eggs they boil are just regular, light-colored chicken eggs. They baptize the eggs for more than an hour in the 175F (80C) hot water, which triggers a chemical reaction. The water contains a lot of sulfur and iron, which penetrate the pores of the eggshell and form iron sulfide. After 15 minutes of hot steaming at 212F (100C), the chicken eggs turn charcoal black.

iron and hydrogen sulfide react chemically to create iron sulfide, which turns the egg shell black

The same chemical reaction happens in the yolk when you boil a regular chicken egg for too long. Overcooking creates a black or green shade on the surface of the egg yolk. The black egg yolk results from iron in the yolk reacting with sulfur in the egg white to form iron sulfide.

Black Chicken Eggs on social media

We urge you to be very critical of any photos or videos you see on social media. Many manipulated photos go viral depicting Ayam Cemani chickens sitting next to black chicken eggs. Videos of chickens laying black eggs should be reported as animal abuse.

Summary

There are no chickens that lay black eggs.

  • Black Copper Marans lay dark chocolate eggs, but they are not black
  • Black chicken breeds with hyperpigmentation, like Ayam Cemani chickens, lay creamy, light-colored eggs
  • Cayuga ducks and Emus can lay black-looking eggs
  • The shells of the Black Chicken Eggs of Hakone turn black due to a chemical reaction while boiling
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Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.