Why Are Baby Chickens Yellow At Birth? [Do They Change Color?]

For most of us, when we think of chicks, we naturally envision little yellow balls of cuteness. Why is that? Is it because we associate Easter or springtime with yellow chicks? Or is it because most chicks in cartoons and children’s books are yellow?

Why are baby chickens yellow at birth? Do they change color as they age?

Not all baby chickens are yellow at birth! Some are born yellow, brown, or even black.

This article will explain why some baby chicks are yellow at birth, and I will also explain why it is certainly not true for them all. 

The New Baby Chick

It’s incredible the way nature works. Baby chicks hatch out of their eggs, knowing how to peck through their shell by instinct. And that instinct also tells them how to begin foraging for food immediately. 

We would assume that their colors at birth are indicative of what they will look like once they have matured into adult birds. But this is not entirely true!

Aren’t All Baby Chicks Yellow at Birth?

Well, they aren’t exactly. Baby chicks appear yellow when they first come out of their shell because of the sac of yolk they developed in. The yolk will temporarily stain their feathers, but once they begin to dry off, you will see their true colors emerge.

Those of us who hatch our chickens or are lucky enough to see them being born with mom. Know exactly what this sticky yellow substance is.

Just as many of us assume that all chickens are white, most people assume all baby chicks are yellow. But neither is true! Generally, we see white birds at most commercial processing plants, but this is because they are primarily used as meat birds. 

Are Yellow Chicks More Common?

Chickens became domesticated close to 10,000 years ago, and certain breeding tactics were soon used. As with most animal breeding, humans began to breed chickens selectively to breed out traits we didn’t care for and keep those we did. 

An example of this may have been breeding chickens to be more accepting of humans and other animals. 

Over time, the commercial industry grew more prominent, as did selective breeding. For example, one of the desired traits of chickens was to breed out the color of their feathers. 

This made the chickens more visible to farmers and reduced colored spots on the chicken’s skin.

However, this practice is not usually carried out on smaller farms or homesteads. Most farms have a wide variety of different colored chickens, and they seem to all blend in with one another. 

So while yellow chicks may be more common on commercial farms, this is not the same elsewhere. In fact, because of the wide variety of colored chickens, seeing all yellow chicks on a farm isn’t as common as you would think.

What Color Are Baby Chicks?

Baby chicks can vary from yellow to black and even different patterns of colors in between!

A chicken’s genetics play a part in its color, just as it does with humans regarding our hair and eye color. As a result, there is a mixture of colors throughout the chicken world, and each gene pool gives us something different. 

The chicks’ parents are pretty good indicators of what they will look like at maturity. And chicks, unless their parents are all white, will show some of their colorings in those newly hatched fuzzy down feathers. 

Are Different Breeds of Chickens Different Colors?

They sure are, and so are their chicks! It would be impossible to go through every breed of chicken, but I have picked out the more popular ones to explain the different colors.

  • Sussex
  • Orpington
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Leghorn
  • Wyandotte

The Sussex

The Sussex is a hen that can come in buff or white, and they have a beautiful black skirting around their shoulders. The Sussex can also be found in speckled.

The Sussex tend to be born yellow but quickly begin to develop that black skirting. 

The Orpington

The Orpington hen is found in yellow, black, and lavender. The babies generally reflect the exact colors they will be as adults, and the lavender babies are a beautiful whitish shade of lavender.

The Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red is a dark yellow with a brown hue at birth. As adults, they develop beautiful bronzed red-colored plumage.

The Leghorn

The Leghorn is one of the few chickens that are all white at maturity. However, as a newborn, she is the palest of yellow. 

The Wyandotte

The Wyandotte has beautifully laced plumage and is found in grey, golden, and bluish-black. As newborns, Wyandottes are the most adorable golden and black mixture color.

Will All Yellow Chicks Become Yellow Adults?

Not necessarily. As discussed earlier, yellow chicks can be almost any color as adults. But I’ve made a list of chicken breeds that are born yellow and will stay yellow (for the most part) so you can better reference yellow chicks.

  • Buff Rock
  • Buff Easter Egger
  • Buff Brahma
  • Buff Silkie
  • Buff Orpington

The Buff Rock

The Buff Rock is one of the most adorable chicks as it is a delightful bright yellow at birth. And it will grow into a hen with gorgeous yellow feathers, yellow feet, and a yellow beak. I can honestly say it is like a little ball of sunshine!

The Buff Easter Egger

The Easter Egger comes in several different colors, but the Buff Easter Egger is another breed of chicken that tends to be a light yellow at birth, and they grow into a golden-colored chicken. 

One thing that makes the Easter Egger popular is that they lay different color eggs, sometimes blue and green.

The Buff Brahma

As babies, the Buff Brahma is a dark yellow with a brownish hue, and as an adult, they are more than eye-catching. A dark yellow, they also have brownish-colored tail feathers that truly make them stand out. 

Sometimes known as the Queen of Chickens, the Buff Brahma knows she is gorgeous.

The Buff Silkie

The Buff Silkie is the epitome of the perfect little yellow fluff ball. Both as newborns and adults. Babies are dark yellow, and adults are just as lovely. However, silkies are unique because they have fluffy down feathers into adulthood. 

Their beautiful golden buff-colored feathers even cover their feet, and they have a ridiculously cute sprout of feathers at the tops of their heads. And they have five toes! 

The Buff Orpington

The Buff Orpington is my favorite breed of chicken. They are sweet as can be, but they are also gorgeous. The adorable little yellow chicks grow into stunning hens with plenty of yellow plumage. Their undercoat of down feathers is almost white and so soft!


Despite what we think or envision about baby chicks, they aren’t all yellow as newborns. Many factors come into the color of their feathers, including genetics and breed. 

Many different breeds of chickens are born yellow and stay yellow but not all!

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