Which Poultry Breed Lays a Black Egg?

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The internet is rife with photographs of eggs from chickens and other poultry that have black shells. Are they a trick of the imagination? Poor photographic lighting? Or true poultry eggs with inky shells? If so, which poultry breed lays a black egg?

Maybe Ducks

Among ducks, the Cayuga sometimes lays eggs with black shells. Often the first eggs of the season have a coating of inky film. But the film easily washes off. As the season progresses, the film becomes gray and then disappears, revealing the true shell color, which is white.

Not Emu

Emu eggs are often described as being black, but they are actually a shiny dark green, like a ripe avocado. One big emu egg is the equivalent to nearly one-dozen chicken eggs. These high-value eggs are often etched in intricate designs that reveal layers of increasingly lighter shell color.

Not Chickens

Marans eggs are darker than those of any other chicken breed. But the darkest they get is deep chocolate brown.

When the melanistic Ayam Cemani chicken became available in the United States, practical jokers tried to make people believe the hens lay eggs with ebony shells. As “proof,” some went so far as to dye an egg black. But, like the eggs of most black chicken breeds, Ayam Cemani eggs have white shells.

Black Chicken Egg

In Japan, in a volcanic region west of Tokyo, a major tourist attraction is kuro tamago, or black eggs. But they are really white-shell chicken eggs boiled in sulfuric hot spring waters.

The area was originally known as Jigokudani, or the Valley of Hell, but was later changed to the less frightening name Owakudani, or the Great Boiling Valley. There the active volcano Mount Hakone has given rise to multiple hot springs and geysers.

In a sulfuric hot spring, or “egg pond,” where the temperature is 175°F, raw eggs soak for one hour. Then the eggs are boiled for 15 minutes at 212°F. Iron in the sulfurous waters turns the white shells black.

Inside the shell is a normal hard-boiled chicken egg. Even the underside of the shell remains white. So if you’re still looking for a poultry breed that lays eggs with black shells, dream on.

And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.

Gail Damerow has written numerous books about poultry, including The Chicken Encyclopedia.