What to Feed Your Chickens for Darker Orange Yolks

When it comes to yolks, the general consensus (in America, at least) is the darker, the better.

So how can you get your backyard chickens to lay those coveted orange-yolked eggs—naturally? And what makes some yolks lighter or deeper-colored than others?

A few things factor into the making of an orange yolk: xanthophylls, omega-3 fatty acids, and meats.


The carotenoids that cause deeper yolk coloring are xanthophylls, which are more readily absorbed in the yolks. (Lutein is one such xanthophyll, and a lot of lutein means a lot more orange.)

Xanthophylls are found in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards, as well as in zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in oily fish (especially cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel), shellfish, algae, tofu, and high-fat plant foods (like brusssels sprouts, navy beans, and avocados).


Did you know that chickens are not meant to be vegetarian, no matter what your premium carton of organic/grain-fed/cage-free eggs tells you?

Chickens are omnivores by nature and their healthiest diets include meats, such as mealworms, beetles, grasshoppers, grubs, and whatever creepy-crawly they can pull out of the ground. I’ve even heard of chickens attacking and feeding on small rodents and snakes!

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