Chicken Breeds that lay dark brown eggs

5 Best Breeds of Chickens That Lay Dark Brown Eggs

One of the most fun things about having chickens that lay eggs is having multi-colored eggs, especially a dark chocolate brown egg. Most people don’t realize how dark brown some chicken eggs are and think of the common tan eggs.

You’ve already learned which chicken breeds lay blue eggs. Next, we will cover how to add some rich, deep, chocolate eggs to your basket.

Although many hens lay a tan egg, only a few chickens will lay deeply brown eggs. These eggs add beauty to the egg basket and value at a Farmer’s Market.  Remember, not any chicken can lay brown eggs.

What Chickens Lay Dark Brown Eggs?

Five chicken breeds that lay a dark brown or chocolate-colored egg are: Barnevelder, Maran, Penedesenca, Welsummer, and Empordanesa breeds. Pendesenca and Empordanesas hens lay super dark brown eggs, while Welsummer is an easier breed to find. Barnevelders and Marans lay a dark chocolate-colored egg.

Most of the best brown egg-laying chickens such as Welsummer hens are unique because they are a hickory brown color with darker speckles. But, brown eggs aren’t the only amazing thing about these breeds. Some of them lay a high number of eggs and other breeds function as both a meat and an egg chicken.

Plus, find out which breeds are better at foraging and which do the best in smaller, confined spaces. This article will cover which breeds work best in hot and cold climates and which birds are quieter for close neighbors.

5 Breeds of Chickens That Lay Dark Brown Eggs

1. Barnevelder Chickens: Dark Chocolate Eggs

The Barnevelder hens are renowned for being excellent brown egg layers, known for producing deep brown and dark chocolate-colored eggs.

Developed around 200 years ago in Barneveld, Holland, these chickens were selectively bred to lay large chocolate-colored eggs, which were highly valued at the time.

Over the years, the breed has also been bred for their attractive feathered plumage, and the egg color has further darkened to a rich chocolate brown, with the possibility of having spots. Barnevelder dark chocolate brown eggs are hard to imagine if you haven’t seen them before.

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Barnevelder Hen

2. Empordanesa Chicken: Elegant Deep Brown Eggs

The Empordanesa chicken is renowned for its exceptional egg-laying abilities, producing a notable quantity of dark, vivid brown eggs. These chickens lay approximately 3 extra-large eggs per week, amounting to around 130-180 eggs per year.

Their egg production does slow down during the winter. But, this natural break allows the Empordanesa hens to rejuvenate and darken their eggs once again. This results in a deep coloration in the spring.

The Empordanesa eggs, being among the darkest chicken eggs in the world, are highly sought after and often command a premium in various markets.

Their rich, deep brown hue remains a distinguishing feature and a testament to the breed’s impressive egg-laying prowess.

The Empordanesa breed has a long history, cultivated by local Catalina farmers, with the first recorded mention dating back to 1921. Professor M Rossell I Vila was crucial in promoting the breed and emphasizing the importance of preserving the local Penedes chickens.

However, the breed faced challenges during the Spanish Civil War and World War I, which nearly led to its extinction. In 1981, a Spanish Government program collaborated with local farmers to revive the breed using the remaining birds. White Empordanesa chickens were first imported to the U.S. in 2001 as part of these conservation efforts.

There are three Catalina chicken breeds: the Empordanesa, the Penedesenca, and the Prat Lleonada, which lays pink eggs.

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Empordanesa Chicken Photo Credit: Huhnerwelt

Maran Chickens: Lovely Chocolate Egg Layers

Maran chickens are a popular breed known for their unique and distinctive dark brown egg coloring. Originating from the Marans region in France, these chickens lay eggs with rich, dark brown shells.

Maran’s egg color ranges in shades from chocolate brown to nearly black. Their eggs’ exceptional color is due to a pigment called protoporphyrin, which is deposited on the shell during the egg formation process.

Maran chickens are moderate layers, producing approximately 150 to 200 eggs annually, with the highest production occurring during the spring and summer months. The eggs are known for their large size and exceptional taste, making them highly sought after by egg enthusiasts and culinary enthusiasts alike.

Maran eggs’ captivating deep brown hue adds an aesthetically pleasing touch to any dish and makes them stand out in an egg carton.

Hens are prized as a dark brown egg layer.

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Maran Chicken

Penedesenca Chickens: Spanish Dark Eggs With A Love Of Heat

Penedesenca chickens are celebrated for their remarkable dark brown egg coloration. The deep, dark reddish-brown eggs, often resembles the rich hues of terracotta.

Penedesenca chickens are also famous for their commendable egg-laying abilities. They lay approximately three to four medium-sized eggs per week. Penedesenca hens are consistent and reliable layers.

Penedesenca chickens are considered a smaller-sized breed, with hens weighing around 4-5 pounds (1.8-2.3 kilograms) and roosters reaching approximately 5-6 pounds (2.3-2.7 kilograms). Despite their modest size, their egg production and stunning dark eggs make them a prized addition to any poultry enthusiast’s flock.

Penedesencas and Empordanesa chicks are related.

Penedesenca chickens lay a dark brown egg

Welsummer Chickens: Gives a Lovely Speckled, Brown Egg

Welsummer chicken eggs are known for their distinctive color and excellent egg-laying capabilities. These eggs possess a rich, dark brown hue that often resembles a deep terracotta shade.

One of the remarkable features of Welsummer chickens is their high egg production frequency. On average, a Welsummer hen can lay around four to five eggs per week, contributing to a consistent supply of fresh eggs.

When it comes to weight, Welsummer hens usually weigh around 6-7 pounds (2.7-3.2 kilograms), while the roosters are slightly heavier, ranging from 7-8 pounds (3.2-3.6 kilograms).

Their weight ranges provide a good reference for the size and stature of these delightful birds, making them a popular choice among poultry enthusiasts.

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Welsummer chicken
Photo Credit: Josh Larios Flickr

Features of Best Brown Egg Layer Breeds

To make it easier to choose a rare dark-laying hen, I’ve put together a lot of the things people look for so you can quickly see which breed is the best for you. Find the birds best for your climate and go from there. Be aware that you can often take a heat-tolerant chicken into a colder climate if you will take the extra care they need to provide a dry, draft-free shelter and protect them from frostbite. 

Likewise, a cold-tolerant chicken often does well in the heat if they have shade and plenty of water to keep them cool.




Barnevelder XXXX7 lbs180XYesYes
EmpordanesaX   X6.5 lbs160X Yes-Loud
Maran XXXX8 lbs150XYesYes
PenedesencaX  XX6.5 lbs140X Yes-Loud
WelsummerX XXX7 lb160X Yes
Maran Chicken Eggs
Maran Chicken Eggs

Chickens Lay Dark Brown Eggs FAQs

Can a chicken that lays brown eggs lay a white egg?

A chicken that lays brown eggs can’t suddenly lay a white egg. A chicken will lay brown eggs due to their breed and genetics. However, they may lay a pale to white colored egg if they are infected with a respiratory disease such as bronchitis. Their diet can also affect their eggs’ coloring if they lack certain nutrients or vitamins.

Do organic chickens lay brown eggs?

Organic chickens can lay brown or white colored eggs depending on the breed of the chicken. The color of the eggshells has nothing to do with whether they’re organic or not. The only difference is that an organic egg has come from a hen that’s fed organic feed and is raised under strict guidelines by the National Organic Program.

What chicken lays small brown eggs?

A young chicken (under a year old), known as a pullet, lays small brown eggs. This is because their reproductive system is not fully developed yet. Therefore when they lay eggs, they come out smaller than the average layer’s eggs. Other breeds that lay small-sized eggs are the Bantam chicken breed.

Are dark eggs as nutritious as regular eggs?

Dark eggs are just as nutritious as regular eggs. The color of the eggshell does not impact the nutritional content within the egg. Dark eggs contain the same essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals as any other chicken egg.

Can I mix chickens that lay dark eggs with other chicken breeds?

You can mix chickens that lay dark eggs with other chicken breeds. However, keep in mind that if you want to preserve the dark egg-laying trait, it’s best to breed the dark-egg layers with each other or with roosters of the same breed. Breeding with other breeds may dilute the dark egg color in future generations.

Are dark eggs more expensive than regular eggs?

Dark eggs are often priced slightly higher than regular eggs due to their uniqueness and the demand for specialty eggs. However, the price may vary depending on your location, the breed, and the specific market. Generally, they are considered a premium product in the egg market.

My Favorite Chicken and Duck Supplies

This list contains affiliate products. Affiliate products do not cost more but helps to support BestFarmAnimals and our goal to provide farm animal owners with accurate and helpful information.

Manna Pro Oyster Shell keeps eggs strong. Before I gave my chickens oyster shell, I had the oddest eggs, many with weak and irregular shells. Now, I don’t have an issue.

Layer Feed by Manna Pro. I like pellets rather than crumbles as my chickens eat them better and less gets wasted or scavenged by rodents. A good layer feed makes the difference in hens laying many more eggs.

My chickens love this mealworm treat, which gives added protein, something that’s great during molting and winter months.

There are many ways to feed and water your chickens. I like this food and water setup the best because it reduces waste, saves me time feeding and watering, and keeps the food fresh longer. Except, in the winter, I use a heated waterer. The only problem is the heated waterers need to be replaced every few years.

I love this chicken veggie hanger. It makes it easy to give your chickens produce from the garden and keep them occupied in the winter with a fresh head of lettuce.

These chicken toys are a hoot! They will help curb bullying and keep your chickens active, especially in the winter when hens tend to get more lethargic.


No matter whether you live in the cold parts of Northern America, or the hot Mediterranean, have a backyard or a farm, if you are a newbie or an experienced chicken raiser, there is a perfect brown egg layer for you.

You may have noticed that all of these dark-brown egg-laying chicken breeds are fairly rare in the United States. They can be purchased from hatcheries and ordered, but you probably won’t find them at your local feed store or hatcheries.

Next, let’s talk about common brown egg layers. They don’t lay as striking of an egg as the five breeds in this article, but they will lay brown eggs and many of these breeds are easy to find anywhere in the world.

If you are ready to add some brown egg layers to your flock, check out Part 3 of our series.

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