EGGstreme Myth Busting: What does yolk color mean, really?

Deep orange, egg yolks are a sign of happy, healthy hens.

That’s what most folks have heard anyway.

But, as always, there’s more to the story and it’s a serious caveat emptor situation.

Did you know that eggs are easily the most green-washed food category?

Cage Free. Free Range. Pastured. 

Industrial food companies have made sure these words mean little to nothing.

So if you can’t believe the label, many are confident the proof of good production practices shows up in the egg’s yolk . . . Deep orange yolk color must mean the hen ran around on green grass in the warm sunshine living a happy life.

That, my friends, is NOT always the case. 

It’s not even the case for Bauman’s Authentic eggs . . .

who most definitely are produced by happy hens spending their days on pasture.

You can buy eggs at the store that have a beautifully rich colored yolk . . . from massive eggs barns with 180,000 hens who never stepped outside a day in their lives.

What? How? Science. 

Industrial Egg hires people to monitor yolk color and manipulate feed additives to hit targeted shade. And just like an interior designer has a fan deck of paint colors, there is a Yolk Color Fan to standardize things. 

There are even studies that have determined which yolk shade is preferred by consumers in different European countries so Industrial Egg can dial in additives to make sure everyone is happy when they crack open an egg:

In Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, consumers prefer more orange colors, with values between 13-14 on the scale of La Roche, while countries such as Ireland, Sweden or the north of England prefer paler colors, with values between 8-9. There are also countries looking for intermediate colors such as northern France, the South of England and Finland, who demand colors with values between 11-12 in the La Roche scale.

Egg yolk color fan used to dial in feed additives to manipulate color.

EGGstreme Myth Busting: What does yolk color mean, really?

Deep orange, egg yolks are a sign of happy, healthy hens.

That’s what most folks have heard anyway.

But, as always, there’s more to the story and it’s a serious caveat emptor situation.

Did you know that eggs are easily the most green-washed food category?

Cage Free. Free Range. Pastured. 

Industrial food companies have made sure these words mean little to nothing.

So if you can’t believe the label, many are confident the proof of good production practices shows up in the egg’s yolk . . . Deep orange yolk color must mean the hen ran around on green grass in the warm sunshine living a happy life.

That, my friends, is NOT always the case. 

It’s not even the case for Bauman’s Authentic eggs . . .

who most definitely are produced by happy hens spending their days on pasture.

You can buy eggs at the store that have a beautifully rich colored yolk . . . from massive eggs barns with 180,000 hens who never stepped outside a day in their lives.

What? How? Science. 

Industrial Egg hires people to monitor yolk color and manipulate feed additives to hit targeted shade. And just like an interior designer has a fan deck of paint colors, there is a Yolk Color Fan to standardize things. 

There are even studies that have determined which yolk shade is preferred by consumers in different European countries so Industrial Egg can dial in additives to make sure everyone is happy when they crack open an egg:

In Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, consumers prefer more orange colors, with values between 13-14 on the scale of La Roche, while countries such as Ireland, Sweden or the north of England prefer paler colors, with values between 8-9. There are also countries looking for intermediate colors such as northern France, the South of England and Finland, who demand colors with values between 11-12 in the La Roche scale.

Egg yolk color fan used to dial in feed additives to manipulate color.

Actually, yolk color can be manipulated using natural ingredients. The most common additives are marigold powder and red pepper powder.

As you can see in the photo, excessively high amounts of red pepper powder will result in a RED yolk!

[ But, hey, it’s a natural ingredient! Should we try to do this for the Valentine’s special next year?!? ]

It doesn’t harm the hen when added in proper amounts, but here at Cedar Valley Farm, we also don’t see the need for it.

Our hens obtain most of their yolk color through the dark leafy greens they find in the pasture and the non-gmo corn, alfalfa and soybeans that we mix in their feed.

This is one of the biggest reasons why we have our very own, on farm feed mill: we KNOW what’s in that feed. ( and there’s no flower petals!)

So if the eggs you’re currently buying have the same deep orange color year around, know that this is a product of additives.

There’s just no way to guarantee consistency unless there’s manipulation.

Red pepper powder will result in a RED yolk

We don’t do that at Bauman’s Authentic Cedar Valley Farm.

The yolk color of our eggs varies with the season. It changes based on the goodies they add to their diet when foraging on our pastures. It changes over the lifespan of the hen. If they get stressed by hot (or cold) weather, it shows up in the yolk.

Now you know that yolk color isn’t a guarantee of happy, healthy hens and great tasting eggs. 

So how CAN you know?

There’s really only ONE answer to that question . . .

Know your farmer!

And ask questions. . .

The folks you see working the cash register at the mobile meat market are the real farmers, not sales clerks.

These are the Baumans and their farmhands and we can answer any production related questions you have.

And best of all: come on out and see for yourself!

While the Baumans maintain an open door policy at the farm, we do have an annual event where you’ll get our undivided attention! Stay tuned for this year’s late spring  Farm BBQ and farm tour!

Bauman's Authentic Pasture-raised Eggs from our own Cedar Valley Farm in Garnett, Kansas.

Remember, you can’t trust the color of the yolk.
You’ve got to trust your farmer.

A Healthier Way Forward

  • Bauman's Authentic Pasture-Raised Poultry
  • Bauman's Authentic Pasture-Raised Poultry
  • Bauman's Authentic Pasture-Raised Poultry
  • Bauman's Authentic Pasture-Raised Poultry