Dark chocolate brown eggs are a certain product of Marans chickens. The French hamlet of the same name, located roughly 240 miles southwest of Paris or 100 miles north of Bordeaux, is where Marans chickens first appeared. In the Bay of Biscay is the port town of Marans. Over the years, a constant stream of trade ships brought new poultry breeds with them. These breeds crossed with the indigenous chickens to create the various types of Marans chickens that are available today.
There are differences in how the breed name is pronounced. According to the rules of the French language, the last “s” is silent. Pronounce Marans as Muhran. Rolling a “r” is perhaps the hardest thing for Americans to do. It proved to be my undoing in foreign high school speaking lesson.) In England as well as France, marans are highly favored. Author of the James Bond novels Ian Fleming made Marans eggs Agent 007’s favorite, ensuring the egg’s exclusive standing among the British.
Marans chickens are becoming more common, yet they are still unusual in the United States. Originally, Cuckoo imports were primarily from the United Kingdom. Shanks should be clean according to U.K. standard, however they should be lightly feathered according to French norm. Breeders trying to get their breed recognized under the American Poultry Association Standards of Perfection have found that there is a significant disagreement on the distinction between feathered and non-feathered shanks. Although Cuckoo is the most popular type in the United States, a greater range of colors is now accessible because to the efforts of committed breeders and more recent imports. These include the Black Copper (Brown Red), Splash Copper, Blue Copper, White, Black, Blue, Splash, Birchen (Silver Black), Black Tailed Buff, and Silver Cuckoo. From Columbia. All of them are included in the official French standard, with the exception of the Blue Copper, Splash Copper, Blue, and Splash variations. Nonetheless, the French Marans Club recognizes that blue has always been a part of Marans chickens. Marans hens are a robust, multipurpose breed that are raised for eggs as well as meat. Though they are extremely uncommon, bantam marans do exist.
The Famous Egg
Marans chickens are the cleanest and most obedient of all the breeds I have raised. Seldom do they sully their nesting boxes. Excellent rooster behavior is seen in Marans chickens. I grow out several hundred each year to choose my breeders, and I have never owned an aggressive Marans rooster. This more submissive attitude also permeates other facets of conduct. To maintain your fertility with Marans, you must operate a larger cock to hen ratio. Compared to my other breeds, where I run one cock for every 10–12 hens, I run one cock for every 6–8 hens. Additionally, I’ve seen that at five months old, when I introduce a group of younger birds into the main breeder flock, they don’t become harassed by the adults as much. When dusk falls, they are also the first birds inside. All of this may sound very pleasant and optimistic, but generally speaking, inactive behavior is not linked to extremely productive birds. Think of flighty, tense, highly strung birds that are the last to return to the roost as dusk draws near when you picture Leghorns or Production Reds. It’s common knowledge that your more bold, active birds will make the most productive layers.
Raising Marans hens has many advantages and disadvantages if you want to raise them for eggs. In the past, Marans hens in France were renowned for producing 200 eggs annually. We haven’t encountered that in the United States. I want to keep choosing better so that I can enhance this. The Marans chicken breed, like other birds created in the first half of the 20th century, is a hefty, dual-purpose breed. There will inevitably be a lower lay rate with this meat type conformation. You will lose the heavy type if you choose to go for heavy egg production. Additionally, some claim that choosing hens with the darkest egg color will result in eggs passing through the oviduct more slowly. chickens that lay less eggs. (More coats of brown/red color are added the longer it takes for the egg to pass.)
Porphyrins are pigments that give Marans eggs their brown/red hues. Porphyrins are made from blood hemoglobin. Iron is responsible for the red hue of blood, as you may remember from your high school biology class. A Marans egg’s crimson pigments rust and turn dark brown when exposed to light for an extended length of time. Some less ethical breeders use this approach to take photos of extremely dark eggs that they are selling. A picture of a Marans egg can never be trusted because they can be readily manipulated or falsified. It is better to trust a breeder’s reputation. I’ve also observed those eggs are just not very good in pictures. Our Marans chickens produce eggs, which I have frequently photographed, but the photos never quite capture the beauty of the eggs in person.
The color of Marans eggs is a hotly debated and frequently misinterpreted subject. Each bird’s egg color varies depending on the season, food, health, and care (free range on lush pasture vs. confinement). Hens who go on the line in the spring usually lay the darkest eggs. Then, as the laying season extends into late summer, the color of the eggs decreases. The cycle then restarts when she molts in the winter and comes back online to rest. At that point, the dark egg color reappears. A brown egg might have a uniform tint or be speckled and stippled in different brown tones. Only the even brown color is hatched out by certain breeders.
Both Black Copper Marans and Blue Copper Marans are raised here. You will also receive Splash as a breeding byproduct, just like with any Blue kind of chicken. For your breeding program, we also have Splash Copper Marans, which can be quite helpful. Like many heritage chicken breeds, most American stock is descended from a small number of bloodlines, therefore flaws are often shared. When choosing your best variety for breeding, keep an eye out for the following flaws in any of these varieties:
Yellow on the bottoms of the feet or on the shanks (often seen as yellow foot pads on willow shanks)
- On the earlobes, white
- Black eyes, a recessive condition that is readily fixed
- Side stems
- Hen’s body is brown, red, or copper (apart from the head, neck, and hackles).
- Overly brown, red, or coppery breasts in men
- Males with excessively long tails
- Overly feathered toes and shanks
- tidy shanks
- Males under 8.0 lbs., females under 7.0 lbs., underweight/undersized
- hens that produce eggs with pale hues
The Future of the Breed
For Marans, 2009 was a very eventful year. This past September, the American Poultry Association (APA) held its inaugural qualifying meet for the breed in Belvidere, Illinois. Fourteen exhibitors displayed eighty-two birds. There was a great turnout. The Marans Chicken Club USA is the newest and best-run breed club to date. They participated in the National Qualifying Meet organization. The Black Copper cultivar was competing in the qualifying meet. In France, the most popular kind is the Black Copper Marans. In addition, it has the best egg color and is the most matured. More seasoned breeders use it to enhance and progress the other kinds. Doing this requires a thorough grasp of color genetics. and supported by careful documentation. If not, it’s quite easy to ruin a decent bloodline.
Along with the Standard Revision Committee, Dave Anderson, the APA president at the time, served as a judge for the Marans Qualifying Meet. The APA expressed their admiration for the hens’ high caliber but said that the cocks’ consistency in type was lacking. The birds were mostly young. Dave Anderson confirmed that the Black Copper Marans were almost recognized by the APA in a letter to the Marans Chicken Club USA. However, the APA ultimately chose to keep the application open and current and permit a second qualifying meet in 2010. This implies that more breeders that work with and exhibit Marans are required. Marans may be the breed for you if your pens have any extra space. James and you Bond may share a similar experience!