Why Is Chicken Yellow? (3 Fascinating Reasons)

When it comes to chickens, their meat can vary in colors from that most usual white and pink color to a quite yellow color. There are reasons behind that, so it isn’t just something extremely rare and unusual.

This article will teach you why chicken meat is sometimes yellow and some additional facts about chicken coloring. Before we get into that, we need to learn why chicken yellow is in the first place.

Chickens are yellow due to feeding, genetic, and age. Chickens turn yellow when fed with corn and marigold; therefore, the older the chicken, the more yellow it is. Also, there are two main chicken species, and if the chicken’s genetics come from Grey Jungle Fowls, then the chicken’s meat is yellow.

These 3 main reasons will determine whether the chicken is yellow, to begin with, and how yellow it will be. Usually, we are more used to the white chicken, so seeing yellow chicken from time to time can be weird; however, I can assure you that there is nothing to be afraid of about yellow chickens. Let’s take a look at the 3 reasons individually and see how do chickens turn yellow.


Red Jungle Fowl – Grey Jungle Fowl

Genetics is to most determining factor in whether the chicken turns yellow. In short, there are two main species of chicken: Red Jungle Fowl and Grey Jungle Fowl. All chickens have wild ancestors, as do all animals, so yes, the tame chickens that we are familiar with nowadays originate from jungle fowls.

Red Jungle Fowls date back to whole Asia and northwestern India. Red Jungle Fowls are the stereotypic roosters with that beautiful coloring and fierce bright red comb. In most cases, the Red Jungle Fowls have white meat instead of yellow.

On the other hand, Grey Jungle Fowls originate specifically from India, and as the name suggests, they have far more grey feathers than the Red Jungle Fowl. However, under the feathers, Grey Jungle Fowls have yellow flesh, and it can be extremely noticeable if it has been fed with corn or marigold. Even if fed with only grains etc., the flesh would still be yellow.

These two chicken species make the majority of the chicken species today. The reason for that might be that Red Jungle Fowls produce the most eggs annually of all chickens, and the yellow meat that Grey Jungle Fowls have is considered quality meat.

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Food has a lot to do with the color of the chicken’s flesh as well. Chickens are fed every day with various foods that affect the pigment of their meat; therefore, it is understandable that it has a major effect. You have heard the saying; you are what you eat.

The most common foods that chickens are fed are grains, corn, marigold, pellets, wheat, seeds, and even fruit and vegetables. Like most living things, chickens too need protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins.

From country to country, the chickens’ foods will vary; for example, over 85% of all chickens in Canada are fed with grains and seeds made from canola or soybean meals. At the same time, 65% of chickens in America eat corn and corn-based products. This understandably creates big variations between countries where one might see yellow chicken more commonly, and the other might see it rarely.

Chickens fed with corn are the most yellow ones, so areas like Mexico and America encounter more yellow chicken than Canada and Europe, for example.

The reason why certain foods make chickens yellow is Carotene. Carotene-rich food such as corn, bell pepper, carrot, and marigold will turn the chicken’s skin and meat yellow.

Finally, let’s talk about marigolds. Marigold is often used to keep the insects away from the chickens in addition to health benefits such as antioxidants detoxing. Naturally, the chickens will eat marigold seeds or petals, and their skin tone and flesh color can be altered, their egg yolks become beautifully orange, and their beak and feet will also turn yellowish.

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Chickens age will also greatly impact to the skins and fleshs coloring. Think about it, if the chicken have had more time to eat carotene-rich foods such as corn and paprika, or if they are surrounded with merigold, they will naturally become more yellow the more time they have to consume these foods.

However, if the chicken is only young, it wouldn’t have the time to turn as yellow as an older chicken. This is another reason why chicken meat produced in a factory is far more white than a chicken that lives on a farm.

Let’s see some facts about age. Naturally, chickens can live more than six years; they can live without a head, for crying out loud. However, it is usual that chickens produced to make meat are slaughtered in only six weeks; therefore, the time difference is astronomical. When it comes to organic broilers, they are usually slaughtered at the age of 14 weeks, which isn’t much.

Therefore a farm-bred chicken surrounded with marigold and fed with corn used to produce eggs will have noticeably more yellow skin than a factory-produced chicken that eats mostly grains.

Read also: Why Is Restaurant Food so High In Calories?

Why is Mexican chicken yellow

In Mexico, it is common to use marigold seeds as a part of the chicken’s diet which will turn the chicken’s meat yellow and eggshells dark. This is done because yellow meat and dark-colored eggs are higher in value. Also, many carotene-rich foods such as corn and carrots are fed to chickens in Mexico.

Why is organic chicken yellow

Organic chicken may be more yellow than regular chicken because they live more than twice the age. Usually, regular chickens are slaughtered at 6 weeks old, whereas organic ones at 14 weeks. This gives the chickens more time to turn color by eating carotene-rich foods such as corn and marigold.

What is the difference between yellow and white chicken

white skin from the Red Jungle Fowl

yellow skin from the Grey Jungle Fowl

Is yellow chicken better

Generally, yellow chicken is valued higher than white for various reasons. First, the yellow color shows that the chicken has eaten more quality foods; therefore, it can taste better. Also, a yellow color is usually a sign of organic chicken; therefore, it is considered healthy. Hence, the higher price.


When determining why the chicken is yellow, it is important to remember that the Species, Food, and Age will be the reasons. By now, you should have learned that there is nothing to fear about yellow chicken; in fact, it is usually valued more and priced higher because it can be more of quality meat.

If you are unsure whether a chicken is safe to eat, you should check the date on the packaging and smell the chicken. If the date checks out and smells normal, you are one cooking session away from a delicious meal!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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